Texas Universities Seek Billions for Construction, Renovation

AUSTIN, Texas — A number of universities across Texas are seeking funding for multi-million construction and renovation projects in the coming legislative session, adding up to approximately $3 billion in funding requests.

In an attempt to keep pace with rising enrollments — and to replace or upgrade aging or inadequate facilities — a number of Texas universities have developed plans for costly large-scale building projects and improvements. University leaders claim that, if funded, these projects will help attract new businesses and create new high-paying jobs, according to The Dallas Morning News.

A number of these funding requests are concentrated around the Dallas area. The University of Texas at Dallas will request $99 million for a new engineering building, plus another $95 million for a new science center, while the University of Texas at Arlington plans to request $190 million for the construction of the Science and Engineering Innovation Research Building, as well as an additional $99 million to establish a new College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions Academic and Research Building. The University of North Texas will seek a combined $152.8 million for construction of an interdisciplinary research building and a variety of renovations to the College of Law, both located on the university’s Fort Worth campus.

The University of North Texas at Denton is also hoping to secure more than $82 million for a new College of Visual Arts and Design facility, and more than $88 million for a new Science and Technology Research Building. Meanwhile the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the University of North Texas at Dallas will seek $109.8 million and $70 million respectively. The former hopes to construct a new vivarium and complete research infrastructure improvements, while the latter hopes to add a new Student Learning and Success Center.

These high profile funding requests are not just limited to the Dallas area, however, and a number of other institutions will also petition for funding. Texas A&M University in College Station is requesting more than $170 million for construction of an advanced bio-containment lab, a new classroom facility and various improvements. Both the Round Rock and San Marcos campuses of Texas State University will also seek funding for new construction projects. All said, Texas universities will request more than $3 billion for nearly 90 projects, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Many of these universities will seek to complete work with the support of tuition revenue bonds, which were last approved by the state legislature in 2006. That year state lawmakers gave the green light to more than 60 university construction and improvement projects totaling more than $1.8 billion. In 2013 a similar effort went unfunded due to disagreements between the Texas House and Senate. Competition for funding will be similarly difficult in the coming session as the number of requests has increased.

“There will be money there, but there are a lot of competing interests — and worthwhile ones,” Senator and Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) told The Dallas Morning News on Jan. 2.

The state legislature’s 84th session will commence Jan. 13 and the regular session will end June 1.