Regents approve PUF proceeds for capital projects, including first-of-its-kind collaboration

AUSTIN—The University of Texas System Board of Regents today approved $392.2 million from Permanent University Fund bonds as a source of funding for nine capital projects at UT academic and health institutions. 

This year’s provision included a new approach by Regents – cross-institutional facilities funding for a first-of-its-kind collaboration, an example of Chancellor William H. McRaven’s charge to UT System institutions to break down silos, operate as a “team of teams” and leverage the System’s collective size, talent and scale to attack challenging issues facing our world today. 

At the Chancellor’s recommendation, Regents approved $45 million in PUF bonds for a cancer collaboration among UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, UT Health San Antonio, UT Health Northeast, UT Medical Branch in Galveston and UT Austin’s Dell Medical School. The funds will be divided roughly equally among the five institutions, targeting the most critical capital needs in each setting. The money may be used to renovate existing facilities or build new facilities. It could also be directed toward the purchase of equipment and information systems, including systems that would enable digital health services such as telepathology and teleradiology. 

“This is a milestone moment for The University of Texas System,” Chairman Paul L. Foster said. “The board fully supports Chancellor McRaven’s approach of driving partnerships and incentivizing collaboration. Imagine the greater impact the UT System can have on Texas, the nation and even the world, if we pool the collective, extraordinary talent and resources spread across UT’s 14 institutions.” 

One year ago, McRaven outlined some bold initiatives, true Quantum Leaps in the System’s ability to provide the citizens of Texas the very best in higher education, research and health care. One of the nine Quantum Leaps is to improve the health of Texas by putting the collective power of its institutions to work. The System is developing a collaborative UT Health Care Enterprise that will leverage its size and expertise and connect its regional capabilities to ensure it provides Texas, the nation and the world with the finest health care possible. 

“One of the pillars of this critical Quantum Leap is to develop UT Systemwide service lines, starting with cancer and building upon the expertise and stellar reputation of UT MD Anderson,” McRaven said. “Four separate collaborations are being developed between UT MD Anderson and sister UT entities, leveraging unique strengths at each institution.” 

The bulk of the total — $347.2 million — is earmarked as a source of funding for several new important facilities at UT academic and health institutions that will provide the opportunity for world-class research, teaching and clinical care for Texas and beyond. This year, institution presidents were asked to prioritize needs and only seek PUF bonds for critically important projects that will significantly increase the university’s ability to provide students with exceptional programs, attract outstanding faculty or provide an opportunity for unmatched health care and new discoveries. The individual campus projects are: 

  • UT Austin Energy Engineering Building — $100 million in PUF funding for this project, which is a top priority for UT Austin and its goal to position the Cockrell School of Engineering as the No. 1 engineering school in the country. The anticipated total project cost is $160 million.

  • UT Dallas Math and Science Building — $89 million in PUF funding for a 175,000 gross square foot building to address a critical need at UT Dallas. This will allow the campus to continue to recruit and retain outstanding faculty in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM fields) to support the advancement toward Tier One status. The total cost of the project is projected to be $101 million.

  • UT Permian Basin Kinesiology Building — $14.2 million in PUF funding for a 43,000 square foot building to house the Kinesiology Department’s classrooms, labs, training room and office space, for a total projected cost of $16.2 million. Over the past several years, kinesiology has been among UTPB’s most popular degree programs. Many kinesiology majors are planning to attend physical therapy school, medical school or graduate school after earning their undergraduate degree.

  • UT Southwestern Medical Center O’Donnell Brain Institute/Simmons Cancer Center — $39 million in PUF funding to help fund the construction of a mixed-use space to help both the O’Donnell Brain Institute and the Simmons Cancer Center grow. The new facility, projected to cost $245 million, will include space for research, academic and clinical purposes.

  • UT Medical Branch Behavioral Health Treatment, Research, and Education Center — $15 million in PUF funding to help build a 33,000 square foot facility that will house education, research and treatment services focusing on mental health. The facility, projected to cost $30 million, will help address the current crisis-level shortage of mental health providers in Texas and an inadequate pipeline of providers-in-training to care for existing and future needs.

  • UTHealth Houston Research Building — $30 million in PUF funding to help build a 187,000 square foot research facility for medical, public health, informatics and interprofessional work. A lack of research space is currently the greatest limiting factor for continued growth at UTHealth. The total anticipated cost is $136 million. 
  • UT Health San Antonio Barshop Institute — $30 million in PUF funding to partially fund the construction of a new home for the Barshop Institute, one of the centers of excellence at UT Health San Antonio and in the nation for research on aging. The Institute is currently located 23 miles from the main campus in a location not ideally situated for growth, efficiency or interaction with other programs. The current location is being sold so a replacement building, with an anticipated cost of $60 million, can be built on the main campus.

  • UT Health Northeast School of Community and Rural Health — $30 million in PUF funds to fully fund the construction of a 67,000 square foot building to house the new School of Community and Rural Health. Regents approved the creation of the school in February 2016 and it will welcome its first students in January 2017. The focus of the new school will be on educating a workforce to address the considerable health challenges facing Northeast Texas and other rural parts of the state. 

About The University of Texas System

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 228,000, 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’s operating budget for FY 2017 is $17.9 billion, including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With more than 20,000 faculty – including Nobel laureates and many members of the National Academies – and nearly 80,000 health care professionals, researchers, student advisors and support staff, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.

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