Re­gents vote to merge 2 col­leges

Austin American-Statesman - - B METRO & STATE - Re­gents B

new univer­sity, is in­tended to ex­pand ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties, health care and eco­nomic devel­op­ment in the Lower Rio Grande Val­ley, a part of the state that is both fast-grow­ing and poor.

“It’s a his­toric day for South Texas,” said Gene Pow­ell, chair­man of the Board of Re­gents, who grew up in Wes­laco, in the heart of the re­gion.

The plan needs leg­isla­tive ap­proval, but Pow­ell ex­pressed con­fi­dence, not­ing that merg­ing UT-Brownsville and UT-Pan Amer­i­can would not cost the state any­thing and is pro­jected to save about $6 mil­lion a year by elim­i­nat­ing du­pli­cate ser­vices.

Un­der the state con­sti­tu­tion, two-thirds votes in the House and Se­nate would be needed to make the com­bined univer­sity — for which a name has not been se­lected — el­i­gi­ble for fund­ing from the Per­ma­nent Univer­sity Fund, a multi­bil­lion-dol­lar en­dow­ment ben­e­fit­ing cer­tain in­sti­tu­tions in the UT Sys­tem and Texas A&M Univer­sity Sys­tem.

The roughly $100 mil­lion a year that would flow to the new school would come out of the UT Sys­tem’s two-thirds share of the fund and would not sig­nif­i­cantly erode pro-

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