The Texas Tribune reports that the University of Texas system is purchasing a 300 acre site in southwest Houston and has plans to possibly construct a UT-Houston campus. UH supporters where immediately aroused by any encroachment on their perceived turf by the tremendous academic juggernaut that is the UT System. The exact site can be seen here.
Chancellor Bill McRaven, who announced the plans at a Board of Regents meeting Thursday, said “all options are on the table” and that he hopes to convene a task force next year to come up with ideas for the Houston land.
“It is the fourth-largest city in the nation; it has an international footprint,” McRaven said. “Why wouldn’t we want to have a footprint in Houston? Don’t you think Houston is large enough for another academic institution?”
The board has authorized McRaven to finalize the purchase of the property, regents said Thursday. A final price hasn’t been determined.
The property, which is mostly vacant, is in an area called Buffalo Point about 3.5 miles south of the Texas Medical Center. A rendering displayed during the board meeting showed the potential for as many as a dozen buildings on the site, as well as sports fields and green space.
Houston is already home to one tier one private university, Rice University, and a growing research school, the University of Houston, along with many other smaller universities and community colleges.
The announcement was a surprise to some in the area, particularly supporters of the University of Houston.
State. Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, whose district includes the university, said he didn’t learn about the UT System’s plans until an e-mail was sent out right before the speech. He said his first reaction was that this could be a “hostile move,” with the UT System homing in on potential tuition revenue that might otherwise go to the University of Houston or other local schools.
All too typical of UH, which is clinging to its turf as a second-rate academic institution run by an incompetent administration that fears real competition. Think about it, what other city the size of Houston has only 2 major universities and so few other options. Here we have Rice and Houston followed by the minor players Texas Southern, Houston Baptist, UH-Downtown and St. Thomas. Not that students cannot get a good education at these other institutions, but it seems remarkable that there are so few choices in Houston. It is past time for the UT System to make its presence known in the state’s largest city. If UH can’t compete on its own turf, then too bad.