On Tuesday, January 22, the UT Board of Regents approved UT Brownsville's request to seek legislative approval for a tuition revenue bond for $151.6 million to build a new UT Brownsville 21st Century Campus. This is the largest request that UTB has ever made to the legislature. The last building funded was in 2006 for the Biomedical Research Building for $34M. Other UTB buildings funded by the Texas Legislature in the past include the Science and Engineering Technology Building (SETB), the Life & Health Sciences Building (LHS) and the Education and Business Complex (EDBC).
Having these important facilities has allowed us to expand our degree program offerings to include everything from mathematics to physics and engineering technology, from bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing, to a doctoral program in education that focuses on bilingual education. The facilities have also provided important space that helped us achieve national accreditation for the School of Business and for the degree in Computer Sciences. Without these facilities, we could not recruit faculty to UT Brownsville or offer these and many other degree programs.
But, we still have much work to do. We estimate that when we fully separate from Texas Southmost College, we will have about 7,500 students at UTB. Currently, UT owns space for only 3,000 students. Leasing space from TSC in the interim will be of great help to us. But by August of 2015, the lease agreement with TSC ends and UTB must be well on its way to establishing its own campus. This conservative request for $151.6M would bring us to about 60 percent of the space recommended for our student population and will go a long way to taking that next step to establish a separate campus and continue the university's expansion.
If we are able to acquire this important funding, the impact extends way beyond the university. The economic impact of this kind of public university construction project is estimated to create 1,500 jobs and result in $217 million of economic activity in our region.
During this session, the Texas Legislature will also consider a bill to establish a new university in South Texas. The UT System has provided a fact sheet that will begin to answer many of the questions related to this bold plan that would be life-changing for generations of students in our region. Please feel free to share this material with others to inform our community discussions.
Thank you again for the strength of your support in this important legislative process.