Texas House approves consolidated UT System school in Valley

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The Texas House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill Tuesday that would establish a new UT System university in the Rio Grande Valley.

The bill would combine UT-Brownsville, UT-Pan American in Edinburg and the Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen into one institution and allow that institution to access the Permanent University Fund, a $1.3 billion state endowment for institutions in the UT and Texas A&M systems. The Regional Academic Health Center would become a medical school under the proposal.

Upon its establishment, the university would have about 28,000 students, research expenditures of more than $11 million and an endowment of $70.5 million, according to a report by the House Research Organization.

The bill now moves to the Senate, which approved a similar bill last week by a vote of 30-1. 

Initial studies predict that consolidating the existing universities could save $6 million in administrative costs, according to the report.

The UT System is currently committing $100 million over 10 years for a prospective Valley medical school and will seek $10 million in annual state funds for the consolidation. 

Each house must approve the measure by a two-thirds vote for it to take effect.