AUSTIN—The University of Texas System today (Friday, January 15, 2016) completed the first of several closings on property in Houston, signifying an important step in the plan to expand UT System’s presence in Texas’ largest city.
The proposal to eventually purchase more than 300 acres in southwest Houston, just 3.5 miles from the Texas Medical Center and near the downtown hub of business activity, will provide extraordinary opportunities for new and unprecedented educational and research partnerships and initiatives in the nation’s fourth-largest city.
Today’s purchase secured 100.27 acres of vacant land located north of Willowbend Drive and west of Buffalo Speedway. The price of the land, sold by Buffalo Lakes, Ltd., is not yet being disclosed because it is part of the overall 300-acre purchase, which includes multiple sellers. Closings on separate parcels of land are expected to continue into early 2017.
The concept to expand UT’s footprint in Houston is part of Chancellor William H. McRaven’s vision and strategic plan, which he presented to the UT Board of Regents in November 2015. His ambitious plan includes eight Quantum Leaps—bold initiatives that will leverage UT’s size, scale and intellectual capital to provide the citizens of Texas with the very best in higher education, research and health care.
McRaven is currently forming a task force composed primarily of Houstonians that will explore opportunities for how the land could be used to develop a higher education innovation, intellectual and idea hub that could ultimately increase Texas’ national and international competitiveness. The task force will focus on ways to significantly increase research funding and educational opportunities in nationally-emerging fields and will be asked to avoid recommending programs or initiatives that duplicate what other Houston institutions are already providing.
The UT System recognizes that Houstonians—the people who know their city best—are best positioned to determine how the land is ultimately utilized. While this will be a decades-in-the-making endeavor, UT System leaders are confident that the acquisition of this land is an opportunity to act boldly and strategically in the best interests of Houston and the entire state of Texas.
Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking basic, applied and clinical research, and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States. With 14 institutions and an enrollment of more than 217,000, the UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates almost two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public institutions in Texas. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $16.9 billion (FY 2016) including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With about 20,000 faculty – including Nobel laureates – and more than 70,000 health care professionals, researchers, student advisors and support staff, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.