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Why leave a longtime partner? Series answers questions about UHV/A&M switch

By Gabe Semenza
March 19, 2011 at 10:03 p.m.
Updated March 18, 2011 at 10:19 p.m.




In the 10th part of an ongoing series, the Advocate answers questions related to HB 2556,legislation filed March 8 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.

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BILL?

Contact Advocate Public Service Editor Gabe Semenza at gsemenza@vicad.com or 361-580-6519.

Hasn't UH System supported expansion and invested much into this community?

Those who oppose moving the University of Houston-Victoria into the Texas A&M University System wonder why many leaders want to leave a longtime partner.

The UH System, opponents say, is vital to UHV's success.

"There's nothing broken here. What are we trying to fix?" said Emett Alvarez, a Victoria businessman. "What's so incredible, is that you're seeing all of the usual suspects all working toward additional expansions of the university. The UH System makes the final determinations of what happens here."

The last point Alvarez makes is a contentious one for supporters of switching systems.

During the past four decades, many Victoria civic and business leader became increasingly frustrated by what they call impediments to growth imposed by the system.

These leaders say they want to align with a system that shares the goal for creating a so-called destination university. Of the many arguments they make, a few highlights:

UHV President Tim Hudson in 2006 announces new athletics programs. This addition occurs without the help of the system, he has said.

In recent years, the system fought expanding to four year-university status, proponents of the bill say.

The system in December 2009 turned down 100 acres of donated land. The system did not even consider the donation - accept it in case it ever chooses to expand, for example.

A former UH regent emailed Hudson in February 2010. "The UH System will never do much for UHV," Dennis Golden, the former regent, wrote.

The system announced its focus is the University of Houston becoming a Tier 1 school and the most successful metropolitan campus in the country.

In August, the system reassigned Hudson, thus removing the man many credit for driving much of the school's advancements.

"I've been in on many, many, meetings with various people - administration with the system, former board members," said Victoria County Judge Don Pozzi. "I don't have any animosity toward the UH System, but they made it very clear to us we don't fit into their long-term future plans."

Victoria Mayor Armstrong discussed a plan the UH System presented Victoria officials after locals warned in June they might consider a system switch.

The plan was hastily created and fraught with technical errors, Armstrong noted. System officials suggested UHV could expand on its current campus. To illustrate one of the errors, the system showed new buildings, but those buildings were located on land owned by the adjacent Victoria College, the mayor said.

"The UH System is good, but A&M is better," Armstrong said.

Who attended meetings with A&M?

Discussions with A&M spanned months and included a great many Victoria leaders and residents.

A meeting in recent months with the A&M chancellor, according to the mayor, was attended by: him; Pozzi; Morrison; Dale Fowler, president of the Victoria Economic Development Corp.; Dennis Patillo, a Victoria businessman and education advocate; Donald Day, a businessman; Bill Blanchard, chief executive officer of DeTar Healthcare System and an education advocate; and Randy Vivian, president of the Greater Victoria Area Chamber of Commerce.

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