Texas A&M University System regents are scheduled to discuss merging the campuses of Texas A&M universities in Corpus Christi and Kingsville at an upcoming Board of Regents meeting, according to a KRIS-TV news report on Wednesday.
State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa confirmed to KRIS-TV that regents will discuss a potential merger at the board’s Nov. 9 meeting in College Station.
“Those discussions are ongoing,” Hinojosa told the television station. “My understanding is that it will be a topic that is discussed at the next Board of Regents at A&M-College Station.”
If regents approve a merger of the two campuses, legislation would need to be introduced during the upcoming state legislative session, which begins Jan. 10.
Dr. Steven Tallant, TAMUK president, released a statement to faculty, staff and students Thursday morning suggesting there was nothing new about such merger considerations.
“As many long-term Coastal Bend residents know, this type of discussion is not new. Leadership changes at either campus often spur this type of talk,” Tallant said, without elaborating on what specific leadership change he was referring to, though he was likely talking about TAMUCC President Dr. Flavius Killebrew’s September retirement announcement. “I understand that the idea of a merger causes some concerns, and you may have questions about the future. The only way a merger would happen is if it strengthened and enhanced the university experience and prestige in academics, research, and athletics.”
Tallant reiterated that any such change would need legislative approval. He also said he did not have further information to share, but would release any new details as they developed.
“I will keep you informed of any developments. It is too soon to know what may happen, so I encourage everyone to stay focused on our students and our immediate goals. Whatever happens, I remain committed to serving our students and our community,” the president said.
Legislation seeking a merger of the two campuses could be pre-filed as early as Nov. 14, according to the Legislative Reference Library of Texas website. Both houses of the legislature would need to approve the merger by the legislature’s close in May.
Merging the two A&M campuses would create a new university with a combined enrollment of more than 20,000 students.
Hinojosa is no stranger to the complexities of merging separate higher-education institutions into one new entity. The Democrat from McAllen was involved in the merger of UT-Pan American and UT Brownsville into the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, which was completed in 2015.
He told KRIS-TV he would like to see a similar merger between the two South Texas A&M campuses.
“Having gone through a similar merger down in the Rio Grande Valley, I know that [there are] always some issues that need to be worked out and discussed. But the reality is the benefits greatly outweigh any negatives,” Hinojosa told KRIS-TV.
A bigger university, the senator said, would better compete for the state’s limited education resources against other Texas universities.
“It’s a win-win for this area,” the state senator told KRIS-TV. “Educational opportunities, additional research, more programs, and increased funding.”
A TAMUK spokesperson was not available to comment late Wednesday. A call to local State Rep. J.M. Lozano’s office was unanswered as well.