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Cigarroa Announces University of the Future Encompassing UTB, UTPA, New Medical School

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – DECEMBER 7, 2012 – Leaders from local and state politics, civic service and higher education gathered on Friday, Dec. 7 at The University of Texas at Brownsville to hear the vision for The University of Texas System’s newest university that will transform one of the fastest-growing regions of Texas into one of the most productive, vibrant and well-educated contributors to the well-being of the entire state.

Cigarroa Announces University of the Future Encompassing UTB, UTPA, New Medical SchoolDr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, Chancellor of The University of Texas System, said combining The University of Texas at Brownsville and The University of Texas – Pan American in Edinburg with a medical school based in Harlingen would create The University of Texas for the Americas, second-largest Hispanic serving institution in the nation. The transformational plan was unanimously approved by The University of Texas System Board of Regents at their meeting on Thursday, Dec. 6 in Austin.

The Regents also approved a $100 million appropriation for the next ten years to convert The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen into a medical school that would be part of the new university.

“This achieves all the things we thought were so far out of our reach,” said Dr. Juliet V. Garcia, President of UTB.

Several speakers noted the significant presence of Rio Grande Valley natives in the System’s leadership and how the timing was right for such a bold idea to take shape. Cigarroa is a native of Laredo, Regents Chairman William Eugene “Gene” Powell is from Weslaco and Dr. Pedro Reyes, Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, is from Alamo.

“We are embarking on an idea,” said Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, President of UTPA. “We don’t know the name of what the university will be. We don’t know how we will do this but everyone knows this is the right thing.”

 

By the numbers

Cigarroa Announces University of the Future Encompassing UTB, UTPA, New Medical School The Rio Grande Valley is one of the few geographic gateways on the U.S. border that is the first to reach out to international students and economic development.

“While we did not invent the global economy, we meant to take strategic advantage of it,” Garcia told Regents at their Thursday meeting in Austin. “We are poised to be able to produce bi-literate graduates with complex cultural competency to deal in a global environment. With the well-earned and enviable brand of the UT System and the fast growing human capital hungry for opportunity in the Valley propelling our trajectory, we stand poised to innovate, to expand and to claim our unique and authentic advantage.”

The face of the new university is expected to initially have:

  • More than 27,000 students
  • More than 1,490 faculty
  • 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

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.

Cigarroa cited an economic analysis by Jon Hockenyos, Founder and President of the economic analysis and public policy consulting firm TXP, that estimates the new university could create 10,000 new jobs by 2022.

 

Cigarroa Announces University of the Future Encompassing UTB, UTPA, New Medical SchoolMedical school

Cigarroa said when UTB and UTPA merge, the new university would be the only emerging Tier One university in the state with its own medical school.           

A key for producing successful medical students is providing opportunities for core residencies in the region. Cigarroa said 85 percent of students who attend medical school and perform residencies in the same area typically stay to practice in their field.

Cigarroa said students initially enrolled at the Harlingen medical school would take the first two years of classes at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and the last two years of education in the Rio Grande Valley. Eventually when accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the Harlingen medical school would become independent from the San Antonio campus and educate students for all four years.

 

Next steps

The Texas Legislature has to have a two-thirds vote to approve the new university. Members of the Cameron County’s legislative delegation declared their intent to carry the legislation to its final successful vote. The 83rd Legislature is scheduled from Tuesday, Jan. 8, to Monday, May 27, 2013.

District 27 Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, said the Regents’ decision set the groundwork for a new era of education in the region.

“When we get to Austin it will be for one university and one medical school located all over this Valley region,” said Lucio.

Having one university means access to something UTPA or UTB 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. District 37 Rep. Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville, said there is about $9.1 billion in funding now.

“We are going to storm the Capital and let everyone know this is the most important thing for the Rio Grande Valley,” said Oliveira.

 

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