AUSTIN (May 27, 2009)—Gov. Rick Perry signed legislation Wednesday in Austin clearing the way for the addition of two independent universities to the Texas A&M System; Texas A&M University-Central Texas in Killeen and Texas A&M University-San Antonio.
The bill, which takes effect immediately, authorizes the issuance of $25 million in tuition revenue bonds and an additional $6 million for operating costs for the Killeen campus.
The addition increases the number of independent universities in the A&M system to 11.
The Killeen campus will occupy a 672-acre site at the southwest intersection of State Highway 201 and State Highway 195 that was transferred this month from Fort Hood to the A&M System.
According to the proposal submitted to Regents, the site is large enough to accommodate a freestanding university with an enrollment of as many as 15,000 students and more than 700 faculty and staff members, as well as the potential development of a research park.
Baylor University in Waco, by comparison, has a spring enrollment of about 13,600.
Congress approved transfer of the land in 2004.
The land is valued at about $1.7 million, but according to background information supplied to Regents, the Army agreed to accept in-kind consideration in exchange for use of available classroom space and for educational services in areas including nursing, computer networking, mental health education and business.
“We are very proud of all the work that has gone into making independent A&M System universities in Killeen and San Antonio a reality. These universities will not only bring jobs to Killeen and San Antonio, but also provide local residents easy access to a quality, affordable university education,” said Morris Foster, chairman of the Board of Regents.
State Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, and State Rep. Jimmy Don Aycock, R-Killeen, were joined by state Reps. Ralph Sheffield, R-Temple, and Sid Miller, R-Stephenville, at the signing.
Fort Hood area community leaders and lawmakers worked for a decade to win approval and funding for a freestanding public university campus.
“No community has a greater sense of vision and urgency about this project than Killeen/Fort Hood,” Aycock said. “This is a great day for Central Texas.”
On Sept. 1, 1999, Tarleton-State University Central Texas opened its doors to students with the primary mission of developing an upper-level graduate university to serve Fort Hood soldiers, their families and Central Texas residents, facilities supplied by Fort Hood, Central Texas College and the Killeen School District, but supporters always intended the school to become a freestanding public university.
Fulltime spring enrollment at Tarleton State-Central Texas exceeded the 1,000 students required for the University Center to become Texas A&M Central Texas in the fall of 2009.
In March, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board certified Tarleton State University-Central Texas’ spring 2009 enrollment at 1,204 full-time students, surpassing the 1,000 mark set by the legislature.
The developments come almost two years after Perry dealt supporters a setback when he vetoed bills would have changed enrollment-counting methods to make Tarleton State University-Central Texas eligible to become part of the A&M System and would have reduced the enrollment requirement for issuance of tuition revenue bonds.