Texas PUF Funding to Create New Construction for Unified University
TEXAS – NOVEMBER 20, 2013 – Chayse Sundt wants to do his part to convince younger students to consider
staying close to home for higher education a serious look.
Sundt, 20, of Brownsville and a junior English
education major at The University of Texas at Brownsville, is a University
Scholar scheduled to graduate in late 2014 or early 2015. Afterwards, he wants
to pursue a master’s degree at what will be one of the largest Hispanic-serving
institutions in the nation starting in summer 2015. That university will be a
unified UTB and University of Texas – Pan American in Edinburg and a new
four-year medical school.
Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, Chancellor of The University of Texas System, speaks at a ceremony on Wednesday formally announcing the allocation of $196 million in PUF funding to UTB and UTPA
“There will be new procedures and an expansion to
academics. Students can look forward to coming here. It can challenge who you
are,” said Sundt.
The University of Texas System Board of Regents Vice Chairman Gene Powell and Regent Ernesto Aliseda ceremonially
presented a $196 million Permanent University Fund check to the presidents of The University
of Texas at Brownsville and The University of Texas – Pan American in Edinburg at an afternoon ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 20 at The
University of Texas Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen.
“I think with us being here, this is a great opportunity
seeing how history is being made. This check will open the door for future
students,” said Sundt.
UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D.,
Texas legislators and community leaders from throughout the Rio Grande Valley
also took part in the event.
“It is because of the leadership of Gene Powell and
the understanding that The University of Texas System needed to plant a larger
flag in South Texas and to understand this great region of the state needs to
have a research university,” said Cigarroa about the work that went into making
south Texas PUF money a reality.
The money approved by the Board of Regents on Thursday,
Nov. 14 is the first ever to be awarded to south Texas institutions and the
first for the new university. The first freshman class will begin at the yet to
be named university in fall 2015.
Students from UTB and UTPA with Vice Chairman Eugene Powell, Chancellor Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, Regent Ernest Aliseda and a ceremonial check for $196 million in PUF funding
PUF is a public permanent endowment established in
1876 by the Texas Constitution and draws revenues from gas, oil, and land
leases from state land to support members of The University of Texas System and
Texas A&M University System. But up until this year, state law did not
allow UTB and UTPA to access PUF funds.
The financial allocation will bear a $54 million,
140,000-square-foot academic building at UTB and $18 million for the UT System
to pay for purchased buildings owned by Texas Southmost College.
“For too long, the people of the Rio Grande Valley
have been heavily laden with the unfulfilled dreams of our parents,” said Dr.
Juliet V. Garcia, UTB President. “Today brings that era to an end. Today the
promise to fulfill those dreams has been kept.”
Powell, a native of Weslaco, said the idea for the
unified university came up during a late night telephone conversation with
Cigarroa in October 2012. He said all of the work that went into creating the
university and securing funding was a strong team effort.
“I was fortunate to be chairman when it happened,”
The UT Board of Regents announced their idea in
December 2012 to merge the universities and create four-year medical school.
The new university and medical school will combine the talents, assets of UTB,
UTPA and the RAHC.
Gov. Rick Perry used part of his State of the State
address to call for the 83rd Texas Legislature to pass legislation creating the
new university and granting access to this important funding. The Legislature
successfully passed a merger bill this spring.
“Today, the students of south Texas are able to stay
closer to home to earn their college degrees,” Perry told legislators in
January. “This area of the state is crucial to our state’s future, and our
investment in the children of south Texas will be returned a thousand-fold.”
A campaign is underway to seek community input on the new name of the institution until Friday, Dec. 6. The
Board of Regents is expected to decide the new university’s new name by the end
of the year. Also, a search advisory committee is recruiting
and reviewing candidates to serve as president of the new university.
The new university is expected to offer expanded
learning and research opportunities, boost the quality of life, attract new businesses
and fill critical needs in the health care field.
“It’s not just going to be a regional university,
but it’s going to be a national university, an international university. It
will be one that we can be proud of,” said Texas Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr.,
information, visit the Project South Texas website.