Economic development group discusses UHV switch


March 15, 2011 at 1:01 p.m.
Updated March 14, 2011 at 10:15 p.m.

The proposed University of Houston-Victoria move into the Texas A&M system was the top issue at the Victoria Partnership meeting Tuesday morning.

Dennis Patillo, vice-chairman of the Victoria Economic Development Corp., who advocated for the change, explained what led to the house bill that was filed last Tuesday by Rep. Geanie Morrison R-Victoria. The bill was expected to be assigned to a committee Tuesday.

"The vision that had been developed, and the vision that the University of Houston had were not together," he said. "That's not a bad thing. Very often great things come from two groups having respectful disagreements."

Texas A&M was appealing to Victoria because of its track record of building rural-type destination universities, he said.

"This is a university system that believes their strength comes from the community," he said. "That is an interesting perspective and one that I wholly embrace and one that I belive Victoria embraces."

Patillo, who heads a group that studies how to make a Victoria destination university, answered questions about school funding and a suggested conspiracy for the campus relocation to land near Loop 463.

"Never one time was there a condition for a university to accept that land," Patillo said. "Never once was there a conspiracy to line the pockets of landowners at all."

Patillo said the Texas A&M Foundation already owns 600 acres of land in Victoria County, although he did not elaborate on specifics.

"The point is they already have a footprint in this community," he said.

Patillo talked about what could happen to the $61.5 million that the UH System has already requested from the state for the Victoria campus. If granted, the money was intended to help UHV build new facilities.

"Whatever funds are allocated to this university in Victoria, would continue to this successor system," he said.

Patillo explained the bill has a couple of things that might help it pass: It's a local effort and it doesn't have a cost to it. He then encouraged people to contact Morrison to show their support.

"Your activity makes an enormous difference," he said.

Mayor Will Armstrong explained making the switch would be controversial and calls for experts who know the legislature.

"This is going to be controversial. We're going to be on strange grounds. I know nothing about how Austin works," he said. "We I think would be very foolish if we went into this scenario with one hand tied behind our back. ... At one time it was thought that we could negotiate something, but now it's a nuclear war."



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