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UHV/A&M switch: Why did leaders choose A&M System?

By Gabe Semenza
March 11, 2011 at 6 p.m.
Updated March 10, 2011 at 9:11 p.m.


WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Have questions about the proposed legislation?

If so, contact Advocate Public Service Editor Gabe Semenza at gsemenza@vicad.com or 361-580-6519. Semenza will collect and answer questions for this ongoing series.

In the third part of an ongoing series, the Advocate answers questions related to HB 2556, legislation filed Tuesday by Rep. Geanie Morrison.

If passed, the bill would change the University of Houston-Victoria's name to Texas A&M University-Victoria, and move everything and everyone under its umbrella into the A&M system.

Q: Why did leaders choose the A&M System?

For several months, Victoria leaders courted representatives from both the Texas A&M and Texas Tech University systems.

Both systems found Victoria an appealing partner. Ultimately, community leaders went with the Aggies - but why?

A&M has a successful track record of joining with and growing rural institutions, as well as partnering with community colleges - two obvious components to Victoria's higher education scene, Morrison said.

Additionally, the A&M system boasts hordes of alumni in the Crossroads and is located nearby, a convenience during the transition and for fostering strong relationships going forward, the representative added.

Donald Day, a Victoria businessman and realignment advocate, said leaders would have been happy with either system.

"We just thought in the end our success might have been a little bit improved with A&M because of geography," Day said.

Q: How would a system switch affect funding already allotted to UHV?

State money allotted to UHV would remain with the school and its new host system, said Don Smith, interim UHV president.

According to Sec. 87.883 of Morrison's bill: "All funds that, on the effective date of the transfer, have been appropriated or dedicated to UHV are transferred to the board of regents of the Texas A&M University System for the use and benefit of Texas A&M University-Victoria."

Q: How does news about efforts to switch systems affect student recruitment?

Smith, said he's uncertain how such news will affect student recruitment, but the university will inform prospective newcomers about the possibilities ahead.

About 37 percent of the current freshmen class come from the Houston area, Smith said. Whether that Houston brand recognition draws those students here is difficult to say, he added.

"I don't think the news will make things easier," Smith said. "Whether it'll make it harder or not, I don't know. A&M is a very recognized name, so my guess is it won't have a major effect on student recruitment at the freshman level."

Q: Would a system switch force the school to change mascots?

Texas A&M University-San Antonio, a school in the A&M System, already uses the Jaguar mascot.

If UHV switches into the A&M System, it is likely the university's mascot would change, too, Smith said.

A change to the mascot would also require new athletics uniforms and other alterations, such as to the Jaguar Hall dormitory name and sign on Rio Grande Street.

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