The proposed new education center to be operated by Texas A&M University in McAllen moved a step closer to reality Thursday (Sept. 1) with approval of conceptual plans for a multipurpose academic building and appropriation of $36 million for construction and related costs—advancing the plan for offering more young men and women in South Texas the opportunity to attend Texas A&M, a top-tier university, while staying close to home.
The elements of a ground lease and project scope for the first building for the proposed Texas A&M University Higher Education Center in McAllen were approved by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents, pending approval of the center by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
The building will be constructed on a 100-acre site in the Tres Lagos development on the north side of McAllen. The regents previously appropriated $4 million for construction planning and now have budgeted $40 million for the total project construction. The City of McAllen, in conjunction with Hidalgo County, is providing a lease for land and also financial support for various aspects of the project, including installation of utilities and other necessary infrastructure.
Plans call for the first building to include over 61,000 square feet of floor space for classrooms and teaching laboratories along with office space for faculty and staff, teaching assistants, security and operations personnel.
“It’s gratifying to see this project move forward. We have submitted our proposal to the Coordinating Board and are hopeful their review during the next few months will be positive,” Texas A&M President Michael K. Young said. “Our proposal, developed in concert with industry and community leaders in the Rio Grande Valley, provides greater opportunities for students to pursue higher education and prepare for careers in high-need fields that will benefit their future and the economic wellbeing of the region.”
“This McAllen project has been a great example of the university and the community working together to bring educational opportunity to South Texas,” said Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp. “Community support has been critical to the process, and I am especially thankful for the far-sighted leadership of local and state officials.”
Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in December, pending receiving all necessary approvals. The Higher Education Center will be completed in time for students to begin studying there in fall 2018.
Initially, degree programs from the College of Engineering and the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences will be offered. These degrees were identified from discussions with local industry as being high-need fields for the region. The Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Education, Science, and Liberal Arts are providing some of the coursework necessary for the degrees and are considering future program offerings. The courses will be taught by Texas A&M faculty, and graduates will receive the iconic Aggie ring and fully accredited degrees from Texas A&M University, university officials noted.
Additional information on the project can be found at http://valleyhec.tamu.edu.
Texas A&M University is one of the largest and most diversified institutions of higher learning in the nation, with a record enrollment of more than 60,000 students. As one of the world’s leading research institutions, with expenditures of more than $866 million, Texas A&M is conducting cutting-edge research that is changing lives worldwide and helping to stimulate the Texas economy. One of a select few institutions to hold triple federal designation as a land-, sea- and space-grant university, Texas A&M develops leaders of character dedicated to serving the greater good.
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