Texas A&M System Announces Major Projects in San Antonio and Kingsville

COLLEGE STATION – Development plans for the future Texas A&M University-San Antonio campus on the Alamo City’s Southside should be ready for review by August, with groundbreaking slated as early as mid-2009, according to a special update presented to The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents at its regular bimonthly meeting Thursday.

“Students from the Southside of San Antonio can look forward to the same local access to higher education as is found in other parts of our great city,” said Dr. Maria Hernandez Ferrier, executive director of Texas A&M University-Kingsville System Center-San Antonio. “With the rapid growth of the student population in the city, and the relatively limited four-year university options, Texas A&M-San Antonio will represent a significant expansion of academic opportunities. The people of San Antonio are so excited.”

Ferrier’s remarks came during a 45-minute briefing to the board reviewing the status of site development, academic planning, and student recruitment projections for the Texas A&M University-Kingsville System Center-San Antonio, which has been in operation since 2000. In 2003, the Legislature authorized the facility to eventually become Texas A&M University-San Antonio. For that to happen, the A&M System Center must increase its enrollment to the equivalent of 1,500 full-time students. A total of 1,021 students were enrolled for the spring 2008 semester, Ferrier said, including 626 attending full time.

Ferrier pointed out that the city’s 18-24-year-old population is expected to increase by almost 20,000 by 2015. San Antonio, the second largest city in Texas, currently has only one public institution of higher education, compared to four in other major metropolitan cities in the state, she said, noting that enrollment at the A&M System Center has increased more than 35 percent from last year.

Projections for the physical evolution of the 694-acre site were provided by Michael D. McKinney, M.D., chancellor of the Texas A&M System, and representatives of Verano Land Group, LP, developer of the area surrounding the future Texas A&M-San Antonio campus.

In addition to donating the land for the site, Verano has pledged a donation of $1 million and assistance in raising an additional $7 million for scholarships. Representatives from Verano outlined their concept for City South, an “integrated urban village” on about 2,700 acres along South Loop 410, west of Pleasanton Road and east of South Zarzamora Street. Texas A&M-San Antonio effectively would be surrounded by that mixed-use development, and serve as its anchor.

McKinney said that the A&M System has contracted with the San Antonio architectural firm of Marmon Mok to lead a professional team in preparing a campus development plan. Also part of the team is Sasaki Associates, a nationally known planning firm with strong experience in higher education.

The A&M System planning team began meetings in April and will continue to do so over the next two months. The planning team is coordinating with Verano, the City of San Antonio and utility providers on infrastructure extensions and related development issues.

The Marmon Mok team is scheduled to present its initial conceptual ideas on May 29 to A&M System and A&M System Center representatives. If approved, the proposal will be turned into a plan for phased campus development and presented to the regents at their September meeting in College Station.

Plans Underway for Redevelopment Projects at A&M-Kingsville Campus

COLLEGE STATION, Texas—When students return this fall to the campus of Texas A&M University-Kingsville, they will notice a number of improvements, including new signage, refurbished classrooms and the start of construction on a new dorm.

The improvements are all part of the university’s $27-million redevelopment plans, which include both short-term and long-term projects for the 83-year-old campus. The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents was briefed on the plans during its regular meeting on Thursday and board members expressed their continued commitment to the project.

“This is an investment in the students, faculty and staff of Texas A&M-Kingsville, and the redevelopment plan will help us bring the university to a new level of academic excellence,” said Michael D. McKinney, M.D., chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. “Getting a top-notch education is about more than bricks and mortar. It is important for us to provide students and faculty with the latest technologies and an environment that fosters learning and discovery.”

“All of these projects are focused on creating a quality environment for the students,” McKinney said. “We want to provide them with the type of facilities that will help propel the campus to prominence.”

Short-term projects that will be completed by the end of the summer include:

· Demolition of the married student housing complex. The aging structures will be torn down this summer, but will be replaced with a new 600-bed facility. Construction will begin in October and is scheduled to be completed in August 2009.

· New signage will be added throughout the university, as well as at the entrance to the campus and throughout the city of Kingsville. The A&M System is working closely with the City of Kingsville and Mayor Sam Fugate on the best placement of the new signage.

· New lighting will be added to central campus, an addition that is aimed at assuring student safety.

· Another measure to ensure student safety will be the installation of new, easily detected emergency call boxes throughout campus.

· The auditorium and two classrooms in the Biology Earth Sciences Building will be refurbished, utilizing a new benchmark for interior finish-out for classrooms and auditoriums campus wide.

· The game rooms in the Student Union Building will be repainted and equipped with new lighting fixtures and some furnishings.

Long-term plans include the possible acquisition of additional land for housing needs, demolition of two more aging dormitories and relocation of the serpentarium and archives. A feasibility study also will be performed to determine if the student center should be renovated or replaced.

About the A&M System
The A&M System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $2.9 billion. Through a statewide network of nine universities, seven state agencies and a comprehensive health science center, the A&M System educates more than 106,000 students and makes more than 15 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. Externally funded research brings in almost $627 million every year and helps drive the state’s economy.

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