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Friday, May 20, 2022

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Following in UT’s footsteps, Texas A&M announces plans for Houston expansion


Texas A&M University has announced probable presence in the city of Houston following recent controversy of University of Texas’ expansion.

President of Texas A&M Michael Young spoke to the Houston Chronicle regarding expansion into Houston stating they may follow in UT’s footsteps and for Houstonians to “stay tuned.”

“We’re in the midst of thinking through this strategic plan of how do we best serve the state,” Young told the Houston Chronicle editorial board.

President of the UH Political Action Committee Welcome Wilson Sr. predicted the A&M presence in Houston, saying A&M in no time will be using their PUF money to do the same in a presentation to the Board of Regents.

President of the Alumni Association Trey Wilkinson commented that although UH does not know Texas A&M’s intentions, Higher Education Coordinating Board’s job is to ensure territorial areas are protected and there are no duplicate allocations of state resources.

“We welcome competition but it’s difficult to compete when the playing ground isn’t economically equitable and it’s not as it stands right now with the prominent university funds that support only those two systems and not our system,” Wilkinson said.

Despite the recent upset and opposition to UT’s expansion, Young told the Houston Chronicle that he is just absolutely shocked that Houston’s unhappy.

“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 said. “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.”

According to the Houston Chronicle, much of the opposition is due to the unfair edge UT and A&M has over other state schools. Only UT and Texas A&M systems have access to a rich state investment fund, the Permanent University Fund, which sends millions of dollars to both schools. Wilkinson argues this fund causes a discrepancy when it comes to competition.

In that same Houston Chronicle article, State Sen. John Whitmire, a Houston Democrat and UH graduate, has predicted A&M would follow UT in taking advantage of what the nation’s fourth-largest city has to offer.

While Texas A&M continues to discuss probable Houston expansion, UH continues to compete in a not equitable economic playing field, as Wilkinson said.

“I think we have concerns about any system that would want to come into the city with an economic advantage that we clearly don’t have at this time,” Wilkinson said.

“That’s why it’s so important that the University of Houston gets access to the same prominent university fund that Texas A&M and University of Texas has access to.”

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