Regents Approve Med School Plans at Year-End Meeting

UT’s governing body met Thursday, approving a plan for UT-Austin’s new medical school at the last regular meeting of the school year.

Regents Approve Med School Plans at Year-End Meeting

At their final scheduled meeting of the school year, among warm goodbyes to outgoing officials and numerous committee reports, the UT System Board of Regents gave the green light to construction plans for UT-Austin’s new Dell Medical School. The Board unanimously passed the $334.5 million dollar plan, which includes academic and research buildings, parking, and office space.

Construction for the medical school would include realigning Red River street at 15th, and relocating UT’s Penick-Alison Tennis Center. It would build around the current School of Nursing, but will involve new construction over what is currently Centennial Park. Regents also approved UT-Austin’s master campus plan, which extends the new medical district south of campus, and potentially moves the Frank Erwin Center, though UT officials have indicated that the move wouldn’t happen for six to 15 years. The Dell Medical School is expected to welcome its first class in 2016.

President Powers welcomed the plan, saying the medical school would be a part of UT’s academic campus, and will be a “powerful connection” between academics, medicine, and the Austin community. The University will now begin detailed planning for construction, utilities, and transportation.

Barry McBee, vice chancellor for governmental relations, gave a largely positive report on the UT System’s priorities in the current legislature, saying that “the session has been good for higher education—so far.” McBee pointed to increases to formula funding, support for a new UT university in South Texas, grant funding increases, and research funding as legislative wins for the System. Outcomes-based funding—seen as a major issue at the outset of the session—has seen its momentum slow, said McBee, though a bill on the topic is still being considered.

“With less than three weeks left in the session, virtually every issue I’ve articulated for you is unresolved,” said McBee. He indicated that as the legislature heads into a sometimes tense late session rush, the System hopes to see its agenda continue to move, and avoid an education-based special session.

The Board also bid goodbye to Regents James Dannenbaum and Printice Gary, whose terms ended in February, along with student Regent Ashley Purgason, the System’s first female student regent, who will be succeeded by UT-Austin junior Nash Horne. Gov. Rick Perry has appointed Ernest Aliseda and Jeffrey Hildebrand to replace Dannenbaum and Gary, but they have not been confirmed. This session has seen some rumblings of discontent between regents and legislators over accusations of regents “micromanaging” UT-Austin and President Powers. The Senate nominations committee is expected to consider the nominees on May 20.

Photo courtesy libraryman_76021 via Flickr Creative Commons.


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