The University of Texas System Board of Regents on Thursday approved plans to construct an 88,260-square-foot building on the Edinburg campus for the approaching UT Rio Grande Valley medical school.
With a ticket price of $54 million, the project will be paid for by the Permanent University Fund and will provide space that UT-Pan American President Robert Nelsen has said is much needed.
According to system documents, the space will include lecture halls that can convert into smaller breakout rooms for multiprofessional education and simulated patient cases.
During a committee meeting on Wednesday, system officials said the space would allow for incorporation of future phases of the medical school.
Core administrative offices, including offices for the medical school dean and approximately 30 faculty members, will be located in the building.
To make room for construction, the university will have to demolish Lamar Academy, which houses the ROTC program and the service-learning center, among others, Nelsen said.
He said staff in the building has already begun to move out.
“Everyone will be out of the Lamar Academy so they can begin taking it down,” Nelsen said “We are very excited about it. It will be state of the art. It’s just going to be a marvelous building for the new university.”
UT System descriptions paint a picture of a highly connected, technology-infused facility where advanced teaching methods will be used for medical education that will connect medical students with healthcare professionals.
“The project will include an auditorium, a digital library, and a clinical skills center for sophisticated testing of students’ knowledge, skills and values; preclinical M.D. labs; and a human structure lab to accommodate shifts in the technology of teaching of human anatomy,” system documents state.
According to the agenda, the building will be ready for the first class of medical students scheduled for the summer or fall of 2016.
Although plans for the new building have caused people to move on the UTPA campus, Nelsen said the building is good news for the campus community.
“There’s tremendous shuffling around right now, but for all of the right reasons,” Nelsen said.
The Board of Regents also gave preliminary authority for the new university to include a Doctor of Medicine degree. By doing so, the degree proposal is then submitted to the board and notification is given to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.