During the University of Texas System Board of Regents meeting on Thursday, Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa briefed the board about the process that led to the creation of the new institution in South Texas.
According to Cigarroa, transition teams have been assembled by Pedro Reyes, executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs of the system, and by the region’s two corresponding university presidents. Julio Leon has been hired as an adviser to Reyes.
UT-Pan American President Robert Nelsen and UT-Brownsville President Juliet V. Garcia were at the meeting.
Although the system was planning to hold town hall meetings during August, spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo said “that goal was a little too ambitious.”
“There has been a lot of logistical work under way for this mammoth project,” LaCoste-Caputo said.
“The chancellor has been in the (Rio Grande) Valley - and has more meetings scheduled - with certain groups but community meetings and town halls will begin in September,” she added.
In July, representatives from the system and Gov. Rick Perry traveled to the Valley for a ceremonial signing of Senate Bill 24 — the legislation which combines UTPA and UTB assets that will merge into the new university.
“We had a signing ceremony,” Cigarroa told regents, “not because we were celebrating it as chancellor and regents, but because the citizens of the Rio Grande Valley were celebrating it.”
During the regents meeting on Wednesday, the board approved a request for qualifications for development of a campus master plan for the new university, according to the agenda.
The RQF “will begin the groundwork for the development of the University,” the agenda item reads.
Cigarroa said he used to receive phone calls from people asking about when the system’s South Texas campuses would be allowed to use money from the $13 billion Permanent University Fund, but with the establishment of the new university that is now possible, he added.
Now, Cigarroa said his office receives calls asking who will be the new president.
Board Chairman Eugene Powell said the establishment of the new university is a testament to the regents aggressive movement.
Powell said he received a call from Cigarroa on a Saturday in October, “and in July of the next year we are in the Valley for a signing of the ceremony.”