Key senator endorses decision on building
Holding off 15-story headquarters ‘both businesslike and insightful.’
The chairman of the state Senate’s Higher Education Committee has endorsed the University of Texas System’s decision to hold off on building a new headquarters in downtown Austin.
“I think it’s both businesslike and insightful,” Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, told the AmericanStatesman on Friday, a day after the UT System announced that it would “delay and rethink” the $102.4 million plan.
The UT System over- sees 15 academic and health campuses, including the flagship in Austin. System employees currently work out of a five-building complex downtown.
Consolidating into a new, 15-story building at the northwest corner of West Seventh and Colorado streets offered savings of $2 million to $5 million annually in maintenance, security and other costs, officials had said.
Seliger said he had been in touch with UT System officials about the project but did not press them to put it on the back burner.
“I had expressed concerns — just that it was a lot of money to house a large group of people that are not directly contributing to the education of young people, understanding of course that it is a very large and complex system as well and the system has a lot of responsibilities,” the senator said.
The UT System does not need legislative approval to build a new headquarters. Chairman Gene Powell of the Board of Regents noted in a memo to fellow regents that the system does need such approval for its plan to merge UT-Brownsville and UT-Pan American into a new university in the Lower Rio Grande Valley that would also oversee a planned medical school.