FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 5, 2013
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AUSTIN — Today the Rio Grande Valley Delegation jointly filed legislation to create a new South Texas university and medical school. The Valley delegation filed Senate Bill 24 and House Bill 1000, legislation that marks a giant leap in establishing educational opportunities and acknowledging the rapid growth of South Texas.
Senate Bill 24 is authored by State Senators Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, Eddie Lucio, Jr., and Judith Zaffirini and Kel Seliger; and House Bill 1000 is authored by State Representatives Rene Oliveira, Dan Branch, Ryan Guillen, Armando Martinez, Eddie Lucio III, Sergio Muñoz, Jr. Bobby Guerra, Terry Canales and Oscar Longoria.
"This legislation, creating a new university in South Texas by merging UT-Pan American and UT- Brownsville and establishing a free standing medical school, has the potential of providing endless educational and healthcare benefits for our families in the Rio Grande Valley. I am proud that we stand united as a delegation embracing a regional mindset to draft the legislation we are filing today. The transformation of the Rio Grande Valley through education could soon be a reality and it is critical that we as a state invest in education and in the people of South Texas," stated Senator Hinojosa.
In December, the University of Texas Board of Regents voted to unite the Rio Grande Valley by supporting legislation to create a new single university that will also include a soon-to-be created medical school. The new university will span the entire region, with campuses at Pan American and Brownsville, and is predicted to have 28,000 undergraduate students, research expenditures exceeding $11 million, an endowment of more than $70 million, and to create 7,000 new jobs.
Perhaps most importantly, the new university, for the first time, will be eligible to receive millions of dollars from the Permanent University Fund (PUF), a major source of public higher education money that the Texas Constitution only allows "eligible" UT System and A&M System schools to use. Up until now, UT Pan American and UT Brownsville have not been PUF eligible schools. With the creation of a new university, access to these monies can finally put the universities in the Valley on par with other universities statewide.
A major component of this new university vision is the creation of a South Texas medical school -- a concept the Valley has envisioned for decades but has repeatedly failed when it came to securing financing. The need for a medical school is unquestionable. Designated as a Medically Underserved Area, the fast-growing Rio Grande Valley has a severe physician shortage, very limited resources and is an underserved population plagued with health epidemics.
"Imagine a Rio Grande Valley with more jobs, lower poverty levels, higher educational levels, more healthcare services, more doctors, more access to those doctors and more resources to serve the unique and critical needs of the people of the Valley. The possibilities are endless. But to realize these possibilities will take work -- from legislators, the medical community, business owners, public officials, parents, students and all residents throughout our communities.
The filing of this important legislation today is just the beginning. We must continue to stand united as a community and work together so that the vision of a new university and a medical school can transform from a dream into a reality to benefit all of South Texas," concluded Hinojosa.