McALLEN, Texas — It’s history in the making for the City of McAllen. Officials with the Texas A&M University System, the City of McAllen and Hidalgo County took the first steps Sept. 15, 2015 to expand the university’s presence in the Rio Grande Valley.
McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young and Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia signed a letter of intent at a joint meeting of the McAllen City Commission and the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court. Mayor Darling says the landmark agreement will change the educational landscape in South Texas.
“The establishment of a Texas A&M campus in McAllen will have a major impact on the educational opportunities for our Valley students. Having the two largest Texas university systems here in the Valley is a statement of the recognition of the importance of our area to Texas,” said Mayor Darling. “The establishment and growth of the Texas A&M campus will provide new experiences and choices for students and faculty that can only enhance the exciting new educational events of the past two years for our Valley.”
Under the letter of intent, the City, System, University and County agree to pursue the creation of a teaching facility on about 100 acres of land within the Tres Lagos development on the north side of McAllen. Tres Lagos is a 2,571-acre planned community located in McAllen’s extraterritorial jurisdiction. Courses will be taught by Texas A&M faculty and graduates will receive the iconic Aggie ring.
“This event is so historic that it is difficult, if not impossible, to put into words. We have worked so hard the last 18 months to make this a reality. For the City of McAllen to be able to announce that we are bringing Texas A&M University to McAllen is almost unbelievable,” said City Manager Roel “Roy” Rodriguez, P.E. “The region will now have the two biggest university flags right here in the Rio Grande Valley. I want our citizens and friends across the region to know that we continue to work toward making our beloved Valley what it should be, a place where we can choose the highest levels of education attainment right here in our back yards.”
The City of McAllen is offering the 100 acres, plus $10 million towards a teaching facility.
“We are excited to be exploring this opportunity in McAllen and we look forward to expanding Texas A&M’s presence here,” Chancellor Sharp said. “We hope to establish first a teaching center and ultimately a branch campus that will provide students an outstanding option for higher education in the Valley.”
Texas A&M will seek the necessary approvals to provide college programs such as engineering, engineering technology, biomedical sciences, and agriculture and life sciences as well as paying the largest portion toward construction of the teaching facility.
“This important new presence in South Texas enables Texas A&M to provide additional academic and leadership development opportunities to young people in fulfillment of our land-grant mission and lays the foundation for many more related opportunities in the future,” said President Young.
The goal is to open the facility by 2017 with 100 students, but expand to 750 students over five years.
“The City of McAllen is proud to be home to a new Texas A&M Campus. This full-branch campus will have a tremendous economic impact on our entire region for generations to come,” Rodriguez said. “The new campus will generate enhanced higher educational opportunities and be a catalyst for attracting new industries to South Texas.”
Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia said the announcement is a game changer.
“I could not be happier to further our support for the advancement of higher education for the citizens of Hidalgo County and South Texas. With the addition of a Texas A&M campus, our region will have two land-grant institutions with access to Permanent University Funds,” Garcia said. “Hidalgo County is proud to partner with the City of McAllen and Texas A&M University.”
The letter of intent calls for the parties to conduct due diligence “expeditiously.” The final agreement must be approved by the governing bodies of each party, including the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents.
About the A&M System
The A&M System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $4.2 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, seven state agencies, two service units and a comprehensive health science center, the A&M System educates more than 137,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year.