A&M Prepares For A Central TX Campus

COLLEGE STATION (March 20, 2009)—Texas A&M Regents will discuss buying land for a future Killeen campus when they meet next Thursday and Friday in College Station.

Regents will consider whether to acquire 672 acres at the southwest intersection of State Highway 201 and State Highway 195 on Fort Hood for the future campus of Texas A&M University-Central Texas and a potential research park that would be developed in cooperation with the Army.

According to the proposal submitted to Regents, the site is large enough to accommodate a freestanding university with an enrollment of as many as 15,000 students and more than 700 faculty and staff members, as well as the potential development of a research park.

Baylor University in Waco has a spring enrollment of about 13,600.

Congress approved transfer of the land in 2004.

The land is valued at about $1.7 million, but according to background information supplied to Regents, the Army has agreed to accept in-kind consideration in exchange for use of available classroom space and for educational services in areas including nursing, computer networking, mental health education and business.

Fort Hood area community leaders and lawmakers have been working for a decade to win approval and funding for a freestanding public university campus.

On Sept. 1, 1999, Tarleton-State University Central Texas opened its doors to students with the primary mission of developing an upper-level graduate university to serve Fort Hood soldiers, their families and Central Texas residents, facilities supplied by Fort Hood, Central Texas College and the Killeen School District, but supporters always intended the school to become a freestanding public university.

Fulltime spring enrollment at Tarleton State-Central Texas exceeded the 1,000 students required for the University Center to become Texas A&M Central Texas in the fall of 2009.

Once fulltime enrollment reaches 1,500, $25 million in tuition revenue bonds can be sold to fund the start of work on the new campus.

State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, pre-filed legislation in November aimed at protecting the potential funding for the standalone university.

His bill would strike the expiration date for issuance of the bonds, which is currently Jan. 1, 2010.

“We must ensure that funds are available for the necessary construction when we reach the next threshold,” he said.

The developments come almost two years after Gov. Rick Perry dealt supporters a setback when he vetoed bills would have changed enrollment-counting methods to make Tarleton State University-Central Texas eligible to become part of the A&M System and would have reduced the enrollment requirement for issuance of tuition revenue bonds.

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