UH System seeks $130M for UHV development

Johnathan Silver By Johnathan Silver

July 25, 2014 at 2:25 a.m.
Updated July 26, 2014 at 2:26 a.m.

The University of Houston-Victoria's chances of getting $130 million in state funds to develop its campus rest with Texas voters in November.

Whoever makes it to the Capitol in Austin could affect whether UHV could get funds from tuition revenue bonds, which the University of Houston System will seek in a legislative request to Texas' Legislative Budget Board. System leaders said they hope the Texas Legislature will allocate the funding during the 2015 legislative session, helping UHV move closer to realizing the status of a destination university.

"Our goal is to develop a campus that will accommodate around 6,000 students," UHV Interim President R. Vic Morgan said Friday.

Those dollars can only go toward academic buildings, he said, which is why the university also will be looking for philanthropic support to finance buildings such as athletic facilities and student centers. The $130 million also would go toward developing the two properties near campus that were purchased in 2013.

Overall, the university is attempting a transition physically and academically with the goal of attracting more people to the campus, he said.

"It's a total package," Morgan said. "It's not one thing that makes it a good campus."

That goal also is a priority for the system's board of regents, said Darrin Hall, executive director of governmental relations for the UH System. The system's effort to get those state dollars might prove fruitless next year, given that state lawmakers haven't produced successful legislation for tuition revenue bonds since 2006. That year, the system asked for $130 million for the entire UH system.

"You always remain hopeful that our requests will be granted," Hall said. "However, every session is unique, and we know there's going to be a new makeup in the House and Senate with new leadership in the state Senate."

But that won't deter the system from trying, Hall added, saying UH officials will meet one on one with lawmakers about the importance of tuition revenue bonds and will participate in committee hearings.

UHV is missing a critical aspect of being a destination university, said Claud Jacobs, a community leader and supporter of the university.

"At every other destination school, they've always had everything on one campus, and they don't have that at UHV," he said.

UHV probably won't see $130 million from the state next year, Jacobs said.

"That's pie in the sky," he said, "because I don't think the Legislature will throw out money this year."

But it'd be nice if the university did get those funds, he said.

"Now," Jacobs said, "I'm hoping I'm wrong."

State Rep. Geanie Morrison, R-Victoria, will champion UHV, said her spokesman, Justin Unruh.

"She has and will do what needs to be done to make the University of Houston at Victoria a destination university," he said.



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