October 13, 2005
TAMU-SA

Plans to build a branch of Texas A&M University in south San Antonio have hit a snag over concerns about how committed A&M is to building it.


Mayor Phil Hardberger said Tuesday he wants a solid commitment from Texas A&M to bring a campus to the South Side before he'll get behind the city's proposed $15 million buyout of homes and businesses for a land donation.

The city, he said, still doesn't have a binding agreement with the university, as called for in a City Council resolution in January offering to hand over the property by December 2006.

"I want to firm this up before we actually start buying things," Hardberger said.

He's proposing a public meeting where university officials would lay out their plans directly to the council for a four-year campus on the city's proposed site which Hardberger says hasn't happened yet.

"We should invite A&M to come here and put everything on the table," the mayor said. "Then we can make a motion to go ahead and proceed."

State Sen. Frank Madla, who's led the drive to bring A&M to the South Side, said he didn't know what to make of Hardberger's questions about the university's commitment.

"The A&M board of regents has made it very clear that they accept the city's proposal," the San Antonio Democrat said. "I don't know what else the mayor wants. I don't know what he's looking for."


The Jeffersonian wants this to move forward already. DC9 thinks slowing things down and making sure of what's what is prudent.

I don't have an opinion on the timing, but I do hope this campus gets built. I've long been of the opinion that San Antonio is underserved in terms of undergraduate capacity. UTSA only dates back to 1969, and back in the 80s when I was at Trinity it was a smaller, mostly commuter school on what was then the far edge of town. Having a second public university, especially one a little closer to downtown, is something that would greatly benefit the Alamo City.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 13, 2005 to The great state of Texas | TrackBack
Comments

It really shouldn't be about TAMU Regents commitment. It should be about the legislature's commitment. The legislature funded the building of a TAMUK Pharmacy School, but they held on to funding to actually operate it. The last thing SA needs is a bunch of unfunded empty buildings on the Southside.

Posted by: Stace Medelliln on October 13, 2005 2:33 PM

Exactly why does SA need this, you know, as opposed to properly funding UTSA? I know people hate it, I hated the drive, but I commuted half an hour each way for almost 6 years at UTEP. Many people drives were much further or much longer. San Antonio can deal with it.

Properly funding one state univerisity* is a much, much more preferable state of affairs to building a second and underfunding both of them.

*University, not branch. We're not talking about a community college here. Higher education is something that needs to be done right.

Posted by: agm on October 13, 2005 6:16 PM

I agree that UTSA needs to be properly funded, but that still wouldn't solve capacity problems. Within two decades, UTSA is going to have 45,000 students on its campus. And it'll be the third largest school in the UT system (UT Pan-Am will be 2nd, somewhere in the high 40s).

They're building structures as fast as they can over there. I know, I went to school there. And you can only build so many at one time. The secondary causes (blocked off parking, closed portions of campus, etc) would tear the campus apart.

But it's crowded like you wouldn't believe. And it's only getting worse as every semester goes by. Properly funding UTSA means hiring more professors, putting out smaller class sizes, adding more graduate programs, etc. To do that you're gonna need more classes and classrooms. Which we don't have. UTSA is at the top of all public university's in Texas as far as classroom utilization (95% or so), there are many, many classrooms that get used from 8 am- 9:30 pm continuously.

We need another public campus in San Antonio.

The faster we can come into an agreement on this land, the faster we can start relocating the families and businesses on this land, the faster we can start doing other things, the spider web things, such as expanding roads, extending utility lines, etc.

And as far as the drive is concerned, my parent's live 1.2 miles east of UTSA's downtown campus (as the car drives, not as the crow flies). From their door to a classroom at the UTSA 1604 campus, it took 35 minutes. I had it down to the minute. Of course this was before San Antonio decided to expand I-10 at the pace of 2 inches a month. Now, any direction of I-10 between downtown and loop 410 can have up to two lanes closed at any point and time during the day for a variety of construction reasons. It's ridiculous.

From a major artery on the South Side of San Antonio (say Southwest Military Drive), it can take 10 minutes to get to the Downtown Campus. That makes it, minimum, forty minutes from there to the 1604 campus on a good day. If you're a non-traditional student who goes to class after work, well, you better hope the downtown campus has your class because you're not getting to the 1604 campus until sometime after 6:30.

Additionally, alot of students coming from the South (and East and West) side of San Antonio use public transportation. If these students were able to get dropped off by someone at the downtown campus, then hopping on a straight shot VIA bus to the 1604 campus will take them an hour.

And what of the Downtown campus? Last time I checked there were about 9,000 students taking at least one class there, with 2,500 of those enrolled solely at the downtown campus. And while you can fulfill all your core requirements at the downtown campus, only 18 of the 50-something degrees UTSA offers can be completed downtown... with a much, much smaller variety of courses to choose from.

Let me also remind you that the downtown campus proper (not the Urban Loop studio which houses the School of Architecture or other offices located around downtown) is comprised of three buildings. One of which has pieces of limestone on its exterior falling off it and has had its theater- and most of its surrounding area- certified as structurally unsound. The other two buildings also have to cram in all the other university functions that the 1604 campus has (fiscal services, student activities, academic advising, counseling, etc) into the other two buildings.

Going to college should be challenging... in the classroom. It shouldn't take a massive logistical effort merely to get to school.

Oh and I haven't even begun to talk about the massive economic implications in putting a public university on the south side of San Antonio.

Posted by: Cincinnatus on October 13, 2005 11:43 PM