Today, the University of Texas System Board of Regents unanimously approved an initiative to establish a new university that spans the entire Rio Grande Valley, with a presence in each of the major metropolitan areas of Brownsville, Edinburg, Harlingen and McAllen. The proposed single institution would include a future South Texas School of Medicine, as well as the University of Texas at Brownsville and the University of Texas at Pan American.
Jon Hockenyos, founder and president of the economic analysis and public policy consulting firm TXP, estimated that the new university and school of medicine would likely account for 7,000 new jobs in the Rio Grande Valley – 10,000 if economic development impact of the new university is factored in.
The new university’s overall size and portfolio would be similar to other existing UT emerging research universities with a student population of 28,000, research expenditures of $11 million, an endowment of $70.5 million and a total operating budget of $419 million.
The new university would also be one of the two largest Hispanic-serving institutions in the nation, both for total Hispanics enrolled and number of bachelor’s degrees awarded.
The board authorized chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa to work with the Texas legislature to establish the university. It also approved the allocation of $100 million over the next 10 years to accelerate the transitioning the Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen to the school of medicine.
UT Brownsville and UT Pan American are not eligible for revenue from the Permanent University Fund, a public endowment created by the Texas Constitution. A new university would be eligible for PUF funding. As an emerging research university, the new institution would also be eligible for more funding sources such as the National Research University Fund, the Texas Research Incentive Plan and matching UT System money.