Legislative process for UHV's possible switch to the Texas A&M University system switch might take time


April 13, 2011 at 5:03 p.m.
Updated April 12, 2011 at 11:13 p.m.

Dennis Patillo

Dennis Patillo

The University of Houston-Victoria might become part of the Texas A&M University system but the bill remains at a standstill until evaluation by the House Committee on Higher Education's chair.

"The fate of higher education in Victoria and higher education in Texas rests in the hands of one man," said Dennis Patillo, vice-chairman of the Victoria Economic Development Corp.

Patillo spoke to about 150 people Wednesday during the Victoria Chamber of Commerce's monthly luncheon, updating them on HB 2556 and the possible system switchover.

It's impossible to know whether the bill will continue through the legislative process this session, Patillo said to the group gathered at the St. Mary's Catholic Church activity center. Some issues take years to reach resolution.

"It is a process," he said. "It is not an event."

The higher education committee must have a hearing before the bill can move forward, he said, and three things can happen from there.

The bill could be voted out, where the calendars committee sets the date and time the bill goes to the floor; it could be defeated; or it could be left pending, with no action taken.

Victoria Realtor LuAnn O'Connor asked during a question-and-answer session whether it was possible the University of Houston System could retaliate, were the decision held up during the legislative process.

O'Connor, a UHV alumna, said she has an allegiance to the school but believed the system has not provided the support Victoria needed in recent years.

"It just makes me wonder what might happen if they got mad," she said.

Patillo, however, said such retaliation was unlikely.

Judith Barefield, with DeTar Healthcare Systems, said she attended the Wednesday meeting to learn more about the legislation and to show support for the community as a whole.

"Higher education is important to me and I hope this bill moves forward," she said.

Bertha McDowell, with First Victoria National Bank, agreed it's important to get involved in an issue that could have such an impact.

"If we don't get our say-so now, soon it might be too late," she said.

Patillo urged community members to contact Dan Branch, the House Committee on Higher Education's chair, via phone or email to make their voices heard. Whether for or against the possible change, he said people have an obligation to make education a priority.

"If community support is there, eventually the will of the community wins," he said. "It always wins."



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