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Students Eagerly Anticipate Merger Between UTB and UTPA and Medical School Creation
 
BROWNSVILLE, TEXASJULY 12, 2013Keeisi Caballero of Brownsville first saw the Arecibo Remote Command Center in the Science, Engineering and Technology Building when she was a freshman at the Brownsville Early College High School.
 
Now Caballero, 17, a member of BECHS’ Class of 2013 and a junior working on a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s degree in physics at The University of Texas at Brownsville, is eager to do the radio pulsar research that physics students do using data from telescopes in West Virginia and Puerto Rico.

“You get to start researching as an undergraduate,” said Caballero. “That’s not something a lot of universities offer.”
 
Caballero also looks forward being among the first students attending what will be a merged UTB and University of Texas – Pan American in Edinburg expected to begin classes in fall 2015. A new four year-medical school with a presence in Cameron and Hidalgo counties will also be created within the university. The new institution is expected to be the second-largest Hispanic serving institution in the nation.
 
“I think it’s a big opportunity,” said Caballero. “It’s all about research in physics. I’m excited for my friends because a lot of them are going to biomedicine and having a medical school here will be great. It will not be expensive to move away.”
 
Gov. Rick Perry and leaders from The University of Texas System and UTB will gather at 1 p.m. Tuesday, July 16 at the Texas Southmost College Arts Center for a ceremonial signing ceremony for the legislation passed by the state Legislature in late spring merging the universities and starting the medical school.
 
Earlier in the day, the governor will participate in a signing celebration at 9:30 a.m. at the UTPA Student Union in Edinburg.
 
Brandon Gonzalez of Brownsville dreams of one day learning about cancer while taking medical classes in the Rio Grande Valley.
 
“For me that’s great,” said Gonzalez, 18, a senior biomedical sciences major at UTB. “That’s what I want to do after my undergraduate work. If I can be in one of the first cohorts for that medical school, that will be cool as well.”
 
Gonzalez, a 2012 graduate of the Brownsville Early College High School, took university-level courses and high school classes to get ahead in semester credit hours before enrolling in fall 2012 at UTB. He is a Greater Texas Foundation Scholar.
 
Project South Texas, as the new university plan is being called by The University of Texas System, will be developed in the next 12 to 18 months. The plan will give shape to every facet of the university including a new name, academic programs and the make-up of the medical school.
 
The face of the new university is expected to initially have, according to the UT System:
 
·         More than 27,000 students
·         More than 1,490 faculty members
·         More than 3,780 staff members
·         The average salary for jobs at the university would be $65,000
·         Total restricted research expenditures at $11.4 million
·         An endowment estimated at $70.5 million
·         An operating budget of $419 million
·         Total net assets worth $540 million
 
UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa estimated the cost savings by having one university with a medical school component would save about $6 million a year that could be re-invested into student learning.
 
Having one university means access to something UTB or UTPA has never had before: money from the Permanent University Fund that is readily available to most campuses in the UT and Texas A&M University Systems.
 

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