Texas A&M Weighs Houston Expansion As UT Collects Land for Its Planned Campus

TEXAS A&M WEIGHS HOUSTON EXPANSION AS UT COLLECTS LAND FOR ITS PLANNED CAMPUS UT Houston Campus Site, Buffalo Lakes, HoustonFollowing the University of Texas’s recent start on buying up that land in southwest Houston for a proposed campus of yet-ambiguous-purpose, Texas A&M is now sizing up the city as well, writes Benjamin Wermund of the Houston Chronicle. A&M president Michael Young suggested that those watching the university’s plans for the Houston area “stay tuned” as the school weighs strategy. UT’s November announcement that it would buy around 300 acres at W. Belfort Ave. and Buffalo Spdwy. triggered responses from University of Houston supporters including Texas senator John Whitemire. Whitmire’s December letter to UT chancellor Bill McRaven cited fears that a new UT Houston campus would pull resources and top-tier faculty away from U of H, in part due to the structure of the state’s Permanent University Fund allocations (which go only to UT and A&M campuses). Young, however, suggested that backlash over UT’s ongoing purchases south of Reliant was premature (as, perhaps, was UT’s broadcasting of its plans): “I guess I’m a little confused about the spat at the moment, because I don’t know that UT has really said what they’re going to do,” Young told the Chronicle. “So far it’s a land deal, and I must say an amusing one, because I didn’t know you announced you were going to buy property before you actually bought it.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Conceptual rendering of UT Houston campus: Houston Public Media

21 Comment

  • “UH supporter” isn’t really the right term for John Whitmire, try “meddling fool committed to academic mediocrity and a community college atmosphere”

  • The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) shut down A&M expansion into Houston not that long ago and will do so again.
    Both would have to offer niche programs not yet available in Houston, and before they do that, they have to get approval to expand.
    For perspective UH tried to expand into the former Compaq campus and THECB rejected it because it was too close to Prairie View A&M.
    The PUF funds need to be opened to UH and TT. It exclusively goes to UT and A&M who have an embarrassing #52 and #70 respectively. That’s a very poor return on investment and performance by what are supposed to be the State’s flagships.

  • This is obviously a UT Houston campus designed to cripple UH. The State cannot easily alter the permanent fund but it can do much more to equalize the funding in other ways for schools that meet certain criteria. UH has been making incredible progress (and the UT move is no doubt a move to halt that progress). The attitude of anonymous is common at UT in terms of their condescending attitude towards UH and so any reassurances by UT ring hollow. UT knows full well what they are planning and UH must fight it tooth and nail. If the plan proceeds, UH at some point may need to re-purpose itself as a smaller private university. Without funding equalization, UT will use access to the permanent fund to cripple the university.

  • When did W Bellfort at Buffalo Speedway become Southeast Houston?

  • UT and A&M are ranked 16th and 26th respectively for public universities by US News which is the standard for most people. I really don’t know where The Roanoker got the 52nd and 70th from.

  • Thanks, bill_b! It’s back in southwest Houston now.

  • so says an anonymous person, anonymous.

  • Where public institutions are concerned, I have to say, I really do not understand the way that universities are structured in Texas. K-12 public schools are set up as jurisdictions that make a basic sort of sense. Every geograhy needs them and has them and boundaries are non-overlapping. Community colleges are set up in similar fashion, and in each case those entities have local funding and economic ties and missions. And then you get to the university level and jurisdictions and funding all go into a blender. There is no logical sense to it at all…unless you start to consider it as a business. But thats not how it ought to be, not in my opinion. Texas is big enough that it doesn’t need to funnel all of its intellect and resources into just two institutions, and moreover into any sort of a concept of university “systems” as far reaching as what we’ve got.

    The way I figure is that if there are to be these concepts of “university systems” that each individual institution comprising them should have some sort of strategic purpose that ties into the mission of the flagship institution or it should be spun off. For example, A&M Galveston makes sense because naval engineering and marine biology and such have their limits on an inland campus, but UTMB does not make sense because medicine can be taught anywhere that there exist people. But then there are general-purpose campuses like UTSA and UT-Dallas and these make no sense whatsoever as a matter of public policy.

  • @TheNiche agreed – think it would make more sense for Texas to reorganize its public schools in the California model, with the UT system taking the role and mission of the UC system, and the A&M system taking the role and mission of the CSU system.

    UH could be wrapped into the UT system, and decide on whether it wants to remain the University of Houston, or brand itself like UCLA. Tech would fall within the A&M system, and all state schools would have access to the AUF.

    Of course, this is Texas, so egos and petty power plays will undoubtedly get in the way of good policy.

  • I’m not sure how I pulled bad ranking data, but the correct numbers help build the case to open PUF funds to UH System. It’s not 1876 anymore.

  • The PUF doesn’t support only the schools in Austin and College Station. The Fund supports the UT and A&M systems. Over 50% of the public college students in the state attend one of the colleges and universities supported by the PUF. To characterize the PUF as applicable to only UT and A&M is misleading, wrong and detracts from any argument one might have that the Fund should encompass more schools. Also, throwing around rankings is a dangerous business as there are enough different rankings around to prove just about anything. Remember, it is not UT and A&M loudly and sometimes obnoxiously lobbying for recognition as a Tier I school like Horschak raising his hand in Welcome Back, Kotter.

  • UH does more with less. If there are unfilled education areas in the Houston region, the State is better served increasing UH’s funding. UT’s talk of collaboration is empty given its stealth (no prior approval from the Education Board) and secretive (no disclosure of long range plans) approach to its Houston expansion. UT isn’t good at collaboration. Just look at the Big 12 and the Longhorn Network. Collaboration requires some measure of mutual respect. UT has a long track record of denigrating UH.

  • TheRoanoker is is a bit off point. UT and A&M are both consistently ranked in the top 20 in the world for their STEM programs, often severely outperforming many ivy’s out there, and they both hold #1 spots in a variety of disciplines. More importantly, many high end engineering firms do targeted recruitment at their campuses, and you will find many longhorns and aggies walking the halls of most O&G firms in Houston. The same simply can NOT be said for UH. Their rankings are mediocre at best for all but a few categories, and many engineering firms specifically do NOT recruit from them.
    If you want a niche for someone to fill in Houston then that’s it right there, a quality engineering school that the locals can recruit from, it’s simply appalling that we don’t have that already.

  • Barks – Yes the PUF funds what one could argue are two bloated systems. This year The University of Houston received $143 million in general revenue state appropriations compared to about $262 million and $252 million at UT and A&M, respectively. This stat is for the respective schools and not their systems.
    MrEction – I have worked for Shell Oil, Kinder Morgan and Enbridge Energy Partners – Aggies and Longhorns do not hold any special place in the Oil and Gas Industry. It’s a mix of people from all over the country and globe. And if you read your words you are making my case for me. It’s all about the funding to be successful.
    But I digress the original intent of my post is that UT and A&M will have to follow THECB rule and their Houston invasion will not happen.

  • @MrEction – “…a quality engineering school…” in Houston? Rice.

  • “More importantly, many high end engineering firms do targeted recruitment at their campuses, and you will find many longhorns and aggies walking the halls of most O&G firms in Houston. The same simply can NOT be said for UH.”
    This is a digression from the post, I know, but: From my perspective, I really don’t get the hype for Aggie engineers. I’ve seen a lot of Aggies come and go at my engineering job and most of their critical thinking skills seem to be lacking and almost all of them seem to have serious problems with their written English (I’m not counting the non-natives). Oh yeh, their level of professionalism sucks too! These are all people with ocean engineering degrees. I work with UH engineers too and they are generally no worse (probably better), either technically or professionally.

  • My previous comment was directed at Whitmire’s meddling in the day of day management of UH. I think UH has made fantastic progress in the past twenty years and the politicians need to stay out of the campus leadership’s way.

  • I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m a longhorn so aggie’s are just longhorn’s without the talent and/or foresight to go to UT. All other things being equal why in the world would you pick College Station over Austin? But a lot of my buddies went there and they are solid engineers. US News generally agrees as well (take that for whatever it’s worth).
    As for Rice, it’s a good school, but maybe not as good as some people make it out to be, at least for technical undergrad (at the grad level it’s undeniably exceptional). This is more based on my experience with a few grads so it may be biased. Even if it was a good undergrad it’s still an absurdly small campus, graduating maybe 100 students a year in each discipline of engineering at the most. Doesn’t come anywhere to meeting the local demand.

  • Rice is relatively small and exclusive and really doesn’t have a large amount of local and regional students the way it once did. If they could, I suspect Rice would teleport the entire campus to the northeast where the other fancy schools are.

  • One reason Mr.Ection doesn’t see a lot of Coogs roaming the halls of his firms is because UH Alums aren’t like UT and A&M alums.
    They wear all manner of logo shirts for the school they graduated from 30 years ago. They are always in the halls talking about their college experience. It’s like Al Bundy getting his 5 touchdown game in high school. Come on guys, it was college, get over it already, you’re the only one who cares.
    UH alum get this and they don’t care about where someone else went to school, and after graduation they get on with their lives, rather than living in history.

  • FWIW, the WSJ and others have done analyses of salaries that indicate it doesn’t matter what rank of school you graduate from, IF your degree is in a STEM discipline. For business, yes it does matter a lot, also for non STEM ‘disciplines’ like the social ‘sciences’. So, school reputation matters a lot in those areas where there are no objective standards, and opinions are dominant, not surprising I guess.