The site of the future Texas A&M University-San Antonio was dedicated Thursday at 4 p.m. during a ceremony hosted by The Texas A&M University System and Verano Land Group LP.
Helping dedicate the site were three state senators, all of whom have strongly supported development of the campus, slated to become the first full-fledged, four-year institution of higher education on the south side of San Antonio.
Sen. Carlos Uresti, a Democrate representing San Antonio said, “San Antonio is proud to be a part of the A&M family. This university will change lives forever, and open the doors to opportunity, to hope, and to the future.”
Democratic Sen. Leticia Van de Putte said, “As a proud Aggie mom, I am delighted to see this prestigious university in San Antonio. This campus will help us to meet our ever-growing higher education needs and will further enhance our city’s ability to attract and create high-paying jobs. It is so satisfying to finally see the late Senator Frank Madla’s dream become a reality.”
Sen. Judith Zaffirini a Democrat from Larado who serves as chair of the Higher Education Subcommittee and vice chair of Senate Finance said, "Last year it was my pleasure to sponsor and pass the bill that authorized $40 million in tuition revenue bonds for A&M-San Antonio. Thursday we celebrate not only growth and progress, but also new opportunities for students. By collaborating with The University of Texas at San Antonio and The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, this new institution can attain rich, exciting goals and serve as a role model for cross-system cooperation and efficiency.”
Delivering remarks on behalf of The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents was Ida Clement Steen of San Antonio, and delivering remarks on behalf of the A&M System were Michael McKinney, chancellor, and Frank Ashley, vice chancellor for academic affairs.
Several officials participated in the dedication, including Lila Cockrell, mayor emeritus of the City of San Antonio; State Rep. Joe Farias (D-San Antonio); Roland Gutierrez, councilman (Dist. 3), San Antonio City Council; Trey Jacobson, assistant to San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger; State Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon (D-San Antonio); Sergio Rodriguez, Bexar county commissioner; and the Hon. Nelson Wolff, Bexar county judge. Representing Verano Land Group LP were principals Ralph Lampman and Tom Lozzi.
Chancellor McKinney noted the System center operating in San Antonio since 2000 already has had a noticeable impact on the local community, sending more than 1,000 graduates into the workplace, many of whom are teachers working in classrooms in Bexar County. He added, “No project excites me more than making sure the four-year campus succeeds, reaching 1,500 students by 2010 so we can take advantage of the tuition revenue bond financing provided by visionary legislators.”
McKinney added the A&M System is strongly committed to “grow” the center and build the university to one day serve 25,000 students.
Since 2000, the A&M System has operated a center called the Texas A&M University-Kingsville System Center-San Antonio that is managed by Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Classes have been held on the Palo Alto College campus until this fall, when the center moved its classes and administrative offices into a 51,000-square-foot facility at 1450 Gillette Boulevard. Last week, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at that facility, which the A&M System is leasing from the South San Antonio ISD and which will enable the center to accommodate increasing enrollment.
In 2003, the Texas Legislature authorized the creation of the future Texas A&M University-San Antonio. To date, the Legislature has authorized $10 million, including $6.7 million from the 2007 Legislative Session to help the center develop academic programs and hire faculty and staff.
Enrollment at the center is currently the full-time equivalent of 576 students. If enrollment at the center reaches the full-time equivalent of 1,500 students by Jan. 1, 2010, the Legislature has authorized $40 million in tuition revenue bonds to finance facilities for the new, permanent campus, to be called Texas A&M University-San Antonio.
Thursday's dedication was held at the 694-acre site the A&M System has identified for the future, permanent campus of Texas A&M University-San Antonio, south of Southwest Loop 410 between Zarzamora and Pleasanton roads. A 580-acre site will be used for the university’s main campus, plus 10 acres for entrance frontage along Loop 410. An additional 104 acres farther south will be allocated for the A&M System’s Irrigation and Technology Center.
In July 2007, Verano Land Group LP, which is managed by Triple L Management LLC, agreed to donate the 694-acre site to the A&M System.
In Sept. 2007, a memorandum of understanding was signed by A&M System Chancellor McKinney and representatives from Verano, the City of San Antonio and CPS Energy, the city-owned public natural gas and electric utility. The memorandum sets forth the intent of the parties to develop the site and necessary infrastructure.
The A&M System is moving forward with preliminary work in developing a campus master plan, which is expected to be completed by Jan. 2010. After enrollment reaches the full-time equivalent of 1,500 students and the $40 million in tuition revenue bonds can be tapped, the A&M System will proceed with construction of the campus. Two major roadways providing access to the property, as well as water and wastewater utilities, will be constructed or installed at no cost to the A&M System.
The City of San Antonio plans to provide up to $15 million for campus site development to include design and construction of roads and utilities, including a main entrance boulevard leading into the campus from Loop 410, as well as an arterial road providing access to the campus from Zarzamora Road.
CPS Energy plans to provide up to $8 million in community infrastructure and economic development (CIED) funds for the campus. CPS will work with the A&M System and Verano to design and construct utility infrastructure for natural gas and electric utility service and deliver it to the site by Jan., 2009.
In addition to the land donation, Verano has committed $1 million toward an endowment supporting scholarships for students at the center and eventually at the university. Verano is hosting an event this evening to raise scholarship funds at the Red Berry Mansion on the Lake in San Antonio. The program will include remarks from event co-chairs, the Honorables Henry and Mary Alice Cisneros, as well as A&M System Chancellor McKinney, and special recognition of the late State Senator Frank Madla (D-San Antonio), who supported development of the campus for many years.