Community, UH System divided over where to build campus


Aug. 14, 2010 at 3:14 a.m.

Geanie Morrison

Geanie Morrison

Some community leaders and the University of Houston System are sharply divided over the best location for future growth of the University of Houston-Victoria.

Members of the Crossroads Commission on Education met Friday with the University of Houston System to discuss its plan to build on the 20-acre UHV campus.

The commission, formed by State Rep. Geanie Morrison in February, researched and recommended a new campus to be located on a donated 100-acre plot of land near Loop 463.

"We're looking at both of those plans and looking at the positives on both of them and working together on what the needs are and seeing what we need to do," Morrison said.

The existing 20-acre campus is projected to run out of space in the next five years if no other buildings are constructed, said Jeff Bauknight, who helped research university projected growth for the commission.

At that point, UHV would have about 1,800 face-to-face students and could build one additional building, but would be completely out of space by 2020, he said.

"We know that if we meet these projected growth goals of students, then we're going to run out of square footage on campus. So we're going to look at different options to satisfy that," he said.

But building on the campus could be problematic not only because of space concerns.

"We're also looking at issues related to the infrastructure," said Dennis Patillo, who chaired the infrastructure sub-committee for the commission. Things like water and sewer lines would have to be taken into consideration, as opposed to building at the 100-acre location near Loop 463 where there is little development.

Patillo said the system is not looking far enough ahead for growth in the community.

"They're looking at really immediate needs and when you talk in terms of a major expansion or development then 10 years is a fairly short horizon," he said.

The commission also recommended the system request $71.5 million from the state to make the expansion happen.

The system will submit Monday a request to the legislative budget board and the governor's office of budget and planning asking for $61.5 million in tuition revenue bonds and about $6.5 million of special funding for expansion and UHV programs.

A hearing will be held in September, then the board and the system will have a chance to add corrections to the request.

The request is one of five the UH System is submitting.

Carroll Robertson Ray, chairwoman of the UH board of regents, said although plans are not final, she believes the current location will be sufficient for the near future.

"The ability for us for to give the students a good student experience would be very difficult if we had one lone building out on 100 acres miles away, as opposed to bringing that building into the complex that's already here," she said.

The requests come at a time when the state is in an $18 billion deficit and less than a week after the transfer of former UHV president Tim Hudson, who adamantly advocated for university growth.

Morrison said the change in leadership will have no effect on plans to expand the campus.

"That will not impact the campus expansion," she said.

After Friday's meeting, a subcommittee was developed with members from the commission and the UH System to continue studying plans to build on the current campus.

That group plans to meet again soon.



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