MCALLEN, Texas—The Texas A&M University System today broke ground for the Texas A&M University Higher Education Center at McAllen, which for the first time will bring world-class education programs from Texas A&M University to the Rio Grande Valley.
Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp was joined by university officials, McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia, Texas Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa and Congressman Rueben Hinojosa at today’s ceremony initiating construction of the Multi-Purpose Education Building.
The $40 Million project will create over 61,000 square footage of space to include mid-size, general use classrooms, wet and dry laboratory spaces, an auditorium for large class teaching, student and other gatherings, as well as student services and administrative support offices. Additionally, parking and utilities to the site are included.
“Today’s groundbreaking demonstrates what can be accomplished when a community — really the whole region — works together to bring educational opportunity to the young people of the Rio Grande Valley,” said Chancellor Sharp. “People’s lives will be changed by this beautiful facility, and they, in turn, will change the Rio Grande Valley and South Texas.”
The facility was designed by PBK Architects, Inc. and will be sited in a prominent location that addresses one of the major circulation intersections in the Tres Lagos development. Design features create dynamic connections between the outdoors, a covered terrace and interior student spaces as well as mirroring similar structural elements found in recent construction on the University’s primary campus in College Station.
Jessica Brehm Soliz, Project Manager for PBK’s higher education projects, said, “We wanted to help Texas A&M and City of McAllen design a building that was cost effective, functional and representative of the unique tier one university setting.”
BE&K is the General Contractor on the project, which is employing over 200 construction professionals, including a number of subcontractors from across the region.
Texas A&M University has committed over $30 million from its allocation of the permanent university fund and other reallocated university sources in addition to an agreed $10 million investment in infrastructure from the City of McAllen and Hidalgo County.
“This type of expenditure by the city is an investment in our collective future through education. We are proud to join Texas A&M University in this effort,” said Mayor Darling.
“Hidalgo County has been at the forefront of Texas’s growing population, industry and community needs, and this partnership expresses our best hopes for how we can work together for the future success of the region,” said Judge Garcia.
The ceremony took place at the 100 acre site in the Tres Lagos Development that is leased to Texas A&M by the City of McAllen in an unique arrangement to allow maximum flexibility and resources for the educational endeavor.
“Congratulations to The Texas A&M University System and Chancellor John Sharp on the groundbreaking of their Multi-Purpose Academic Building! This is a significant moment as Texas A&M University takes the first steps to expand their presence in the Rio Grande Valley and to create new higher education options for our students,” said State Rep. Hinojosa. “Texas A&M’s desire to grow their presence in the Valley builds on our region’s tremendous economic growth and development for the benefit of all our communities.”
The proposed new education center, which is to be operated by Texas A&M University, is slated to open in Fall 2018, although some degree program offerings are already available for students in public health, nursing, and soon-to-be-announced interdisciplinary engineering. Additional degree offerings from Texas A&M University are being discussed for future enrollment.
“Only 15 months after announcing our intent to explore a partnership, we are back putting shovels in the ground to begin the real work of providing access to one of the nation’s leading universities right here in the Rio Grande Valley,” said Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young. “As president of this great flagship university, I couldn’t be more proud to see this next step in our partnership come to life, and I look forward to many accomplishments to come.”
Additional information on the project can be found at http://valleyhec.tamu.edu.
About The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $4.2 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities and seven state agencies, the Texas A&M System educates more than 140,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceeded $946 million in FY 2015 and helped drive the state’s economy.
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