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Press Release
May 9, 2024
Contact: (512) 463-0120
Senator Hinojosa Announces UT System Approves Proposal for School of Optometry at UTRGV and Funding for a Student Housing Facility

Austin, TX — Today, State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa announced that the University of Texas System Board of Regents has approved two significant projects at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV). The Board of Regents has approved a proposal for the establishment of a School of Optometry and a Doctor of Optometry degree program, the first step in the development process which requires approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the accrediting institutions. The Board of Regents also allocated $135.5 million for a new Student Housing and Dining Project at the UTRGV Edinburg campus.

In response to the shortage of optometrists in Texas, the School of Optometry and the new Doctor of Optometry degree program at UTRGV will enroll approximately 40 students per year, increasing access for Texas students and addressing the need for optometrists in the RGV and the state. The School of Optometry, which would be the third in Texas, will collaborate with UTRGV’s School of Medicine and the South Texas Diabetes and Obesity Institute to conduct research and clinical activities to improve healthcare access and quality of life in South Texas. UTRGV estimates that it could welcome its first School of Optometry class as early as Fall 2027.

The Student Housing and Dining Project at the UTRGV Edinburg campus will provide housing for 550 students and include a dining facility with seating for 500 students. This project will increase on-campus student housing from 810 beds to 1,360 beds. The building will be designed to help students connect, collaborate, and overall build a stronger campus community.

Senator Hinojosa continues to advocate for expanded healthcare and infrastructure investments in South Texas and expressed his appreciation to the UT System Board of Regents, Chairman Kevin Eltife, and Chancellor James Milliken for their support of UTRGV’s new School of Optometry and the Student Housing and Dining Project. He said, “This approval is a significant step forward in transforming the delivery of medical care, improving healthcare access, enhancing campus life, student experience, and creating a vibrant campus community at UTRGV. I appreciate the UT System’s commitment to investing in these opportunities for our students and improving healthcare access in our community.”

Senator Hinojosa concluded by congratulating and thanking UTRGV President Guy Bailey and the staff for their work to advance these important initiatives. He stated, “I appreciate the leadership of Dr. Bailey and am grateful to all the UTRGV staff who work tirelessly to provide innovative educational opportunities and improve healthcare access in our community. The dedication and vision of our officials at UTRGV and the UT System are making a difference in the lives of students and residents across South Texas."