Students at the University of Texas at Brownsville questioned administrators Tuesday about the coming changes to the university as it transitions from UTB to the newly formed, yet unnamed South Texas school.
Discussion topics included construction on campus, growth of the university and tuition costs for the new school
UTB President Juliet V. Garcia told students that if she receives money from the Permanent University Fund later this month she would move forward with plans to construct more buildings on campus.
“We should see some construction on this campus by late spring,” she said.
Tentative plans have any construction projects beginning in the area adjacent to the Biomedical Research Building between the Casa Bella residential student buildings, she said.
“That’s like a no man’s land,” Garcia said. “It looks so ugly because it’s like an old parking lot.”
She said construction would need to begin quickly because the university is leasing space from Texas Southmost College and from the city of Brownsville to accommodate its operations.
“Our job is to get as much money as we can, as fast as we can, to build more space for the student body we currently have and for the growth we are expecting,” Garcia said.
The university has approximately 280 acres, enough for an estimated 20,000 students, Garcia said. That number, she added, would give the community an average college-going size compared to other areas of the state.
“We’ve got to educate twice as many people as we are here,” Garcia said.
The land across the street on University Boulevard that the university plans to receive from the city of Brownsville, which includes Lincoln Park, would probably not see any development until necessary, Garcia said.
“The land across University Boulevard will be there 10 years from now when we run out of space and need to expand toward the expressway,” she said.
“There is compelling need everywhere,” Garcia said regarding the kinds of buildings on the construction list.
“This campus should always be growing,” she added.
Garcia told students that tuition for the new school hasn’t been discussed, but the UT Board of Regents has asked presidents from all campuses to keep costs low.
Discussions to develop a budget for next year’s operations have begun, UTB Provost Alan Artibise said.
“That budget calls for hiring more faculty and additional staff to meet the increase in student body that we have experienced this year,” Artibise said. “We will grow our support staff and faculty positions as quickly as the budget allows us to do that.”
Student Government Association President Stephanie Mendez said she was pleased with the number of students — approximately 50 of them — that attended the event. Mendez said SGA will likely plan another town hall meeting during spring semester.
“A lot of people are just very, very concerned or they just want to know the name of the university, the colors, the mascot, the location,” Mendez said. “These are questions that everybody has and I am so glad these very important people who are so busy all of the time were able to hear those questions.”