Texas A&M University gets one step closer to new McAllen facility

McALLEN — The Texas A&M University Board of Regents approved conceptual plans for the first academic building coming to McAllen and appropriated $36 million for its construction during a meeting Thursday.

McALLEN — The Texas A&M University Board of Regents approved conceptual plans for the first academic building coming to McAllen and appropriated $36 million for its construction during a meeting Thursday.

The new 60,000-square-foot facility is slated to be an extension of Texas A&M in College Station, led by its President Michael Young. The next step is to receive approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

“We have submitted our proposal to the coordinating board and are hopeful their review during the next few months will be positive,” Young said in a statement sent Thursday.

If approved by the coordinating board, groundbreaking could take place in December and the facility should be up and running by fall 2018, according to a news release sent Thursday.

The facility will initially offer degrees in the colleges of engineering, veterinary medicine and biomedical sciences, which will be taught by Texas A&M faculty. Other colleges, such as agriculture and life sciences, education and liberal arts, will also offer basic courses linked to these degrees.

Chad Wootton, associate vice president for external affairs at the office of the provost, said the plan could be to begin offering some of the courses in the fall 2017 if approved by the coordinating board.

“Our proposal includes the opportunity to teach some courses beginning fall of 2017 and then moving to the location the fall of 2018,” Wootton said.

An official location for students to begin taking courses next year has yet to be finalized, but this will also be part of the discussion during the proposal review by the coordinating board, Wootton said.

At the time of the announcement, Young also stated they are expecting to start with a cohort of about 100 to 200 students and expand to 750 or 1,000 in the next five years.

The total cost of the building, which will be located on about 100 acres in the Tres Lagos development in north McAllen, is now budgeted at about $40 million — coming from Permanent University Funds — as the regents had initially appropriated $4 million for its construction.

Texas A&M’s plans to expand were announced in September 2015. The city of McAllen and Hidalgo County partnered to donate the land and up to $10 million toward facilities and infrastructure.

dperez-hernanez@themonitor.com