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Chancellor joins celebration of UHV's new dorm (Video)

By Carolina Astrain
Aug. 30, 2012 at 3:30 a.m.
Updated Aug. 31, 2012 at 3:31 a.m.

A crowd gathers at the Jaguar Hall parking lot for the groundbreaking ceremony for Jaguar Suites.

TRANSFER OF POWER?

In the last legislative session, Rep. Geanie Morrison filed HB 2556, a bill that 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.

The bill died in committee, but the talk continues in the community.

Earlier this year at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Victoria native and Texas A&M chancellor John Sharp said he would like to see the Victoria campus join his system.

At the groundbreaking, Renu Khator, chancellor of the UH system, said she has not been contacted by Sharp about the switch and did not comment on the matter.

Victoria Chamber of Commerce ambassador Barbara McCain was at the ceremony to celebrate the campus' growth and was enthusiastic about the possible system transfer to A&M University.

"I think it would be awesome because I'm an Aggie mom," McCain said.

Two fingers shot up into the air from Renu Khator at a groundbreaking ceremony at the future site of Jaguar Suites.

The University of Houston system chancellor was signaling for two more shovels to be distributed.

Dirt drifted off the ceremonial shovels Thursday as the future of residential life at University of Houston-Victoria was planted in a lot adjacent to Houston Highway.

Set to open in fall 2013, Jaguar Suites will be the third member of UHV residential hall family.

"This has been a big day for us," said UHV President Phil Castille.

The crowd was made up of Victoria Chamber of Commerce members, UHV professors and staff.

Khator, chancellor of the UH system, had been on campus most of the day, first attending the campus convocation, before going to the groundbreaking. In her black and gold jaguar print heels, she stepped onto a patch of earth to welcome the groundbreaking attendees.

"We'll continue to move forward," Khator said. "This is a destination place for students who want to be in a small college setting."

Enrollment at UHV this semester hit a preliminary average of 4,400 students, Castille said. Official numbers won't be out until next week, but preliminary numbers hint at a record year of enrollment.

"This showcases how successful we've been bringing in residence halls to Victoria," Castille said.

The new residential building will be in the lot between Jaguar Hall and Jaguar Court.

As of Thursday, rooms at Jaguar Hall were full, but there are still some spaces left at Jaguar Court for sophomores.

"This is the beginning of a lot of growth," said Roger Welder, UH system board regent. "It's a great day for Victoria."

The design for the new hall includes gabled roofs, a large fitness center, a commons area and an open courtyard in the middle of the building that will have a swimming pool and sand volleyball court.

In a news release, UHV Vice President for Administration and Finance Wayne Beran said Jaguar Suites will be one of the best residence halls in Texas.

"It was designed to bring more students to the university," Beran said. "We think it will help meet that objective as well as encourage freshmen to return for their sophomore year at Jaguar Suites."

Freshmen and sophomores are required to live in the residential halls, unless they have been granted a waiver. Castille said having an additional dormitory will help enforce this requirement.

"We're spending $11.5 million on this project," Castille said. "UHV has played a major role with the uplift of Northeast Victoria."

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