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Do Cinco Ranch, Sugar Land support switch to A&M System?

By Gabe Semenza
March 20, 2011 at 11 p.m.
Updated March 19, 2011 at 10:20 p.m.




In the 11th 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.

How do Cinco Ranch and Sugar Land feel about the switch?

The intent of Rep. Geanie Morrison's bill, HB 2556, is to move all University of Houston-Victoria property, employees and students into the Texas A&M University System.

A healthy portion of UHV's faculty, administration and students work or attend classes via the Sugar Land and Cinco Ranch centers.

So, how do leaders there feel about the efforts to switch systems? The majority of faculty members who teach and students who attend classes via those centers, after all, are UHV affiliated.

Phone calls and emails to Richard Phillips, the associate vice chancellor at Sugar Land and Cinco Ranch, were referred to the system's media department.

Richard Bonnin, the system's spokesman, reiterated a point he shared last week: "As stated in Government Code 556.006, state agencies and their boards are specifically prohibited from advocating for or against the passage of any particular piece of legislation."

He then emailed again the one statement the system released since Morrison filed her bill. Nothing in that statement discusses how folks in Sugar Land and Cinco Ranch feel about efforts to switch.

Doug Adolph, spokesman for the city of Sugar Land, said simply, "The city does not have a position on this legislation."

Clearly, Morrison's legislation has ramifications for the two multi-institutional learning centers. Leaders there have, historically, expressed a desire for the centers to become freestanding institutions.

"Most communities want more than what they're getting out of their university system," said Don Smith, UHV's interim president. "Most communities want a residential campus. I'm aware Sugar Land and Cinco Ranch have certainly wanted, over the years, a substantial university in the community, but again, that's not surprising."

For now, it remains unclear if leaders in Sugar Land and Cinco Ranch support or oppose a switch to the A&M System.

Sen. Glenn Hegar, a Katy Republican whose district includes Victoria, offered his understanding.

"As the only member of the Texas Legislature whose district includes all three campuses, I can tell you that this bill is in response to a Victoria issue and addresses the concerns of residents in the Victoria community," Hegar said. "The communities of Sugar Land and Katy have not engaged in this discussion."

How much would a system switch cost?

The university system switch would not cost taxpayers any money, Morrison said.

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