A Master Plan to Merge Two U.T. Schools

Ann McClure's picture
Monday, January 7, 2013

Robert S. Nelsen, the president of the University of Texas-Pan American, does not like to think of the 85-year-old institution he has run since January 2010 being abolished by the Legislature.

But he intends to spend much of the 2013 legislative session encouraging lawmakers to do just that. “I hate that word,” he said recently from his office in this Rio Grande Valley town. “But that’s the technical word you have to use. ‘Abolish.’ ”

Dr. Nelsen’s partner in this effort is Juliet V. García, the president of the University of Texas at Brownsville, who will make a similar push to put an end to her institution as it currently exists.

Both have endorsed an ambitious plan by the University of Texas System’s chancellor, Francisco G. Cigarroa, to consolidate their colleges and create a single university with multiple Valley campuses, including new administrative offices in McAllen. But it will be Texas lawmakers who determine if the plan — which would also incorporate a proposed medical school and tap into significant state financing sources that the two universities are currently barred from accessing — is too good to be true.

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