Board of Regents approve Permanent University Fund allocation

Madlin Mekelburg

The UT System Board of Regents approved an allocation of $265.6 million of the Permanent University Fund for capital projects at its regular meeting Thursday.

The allocation was recommended by Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and outlined a $142 million allotment for the UT South Texas Project, which is dedicated to creating a new university in South Texas that encompasses existing UT facilities in the Rio Grande Valley.

“I would like to convey to this board that this would be the first time in the history of the University of Texas System where a board allocates Permanent University Funds to the Pan American Campus, the Brownsville campus and then the establishment of an academic building, for the region-wide school of medicine in Rio Grande Valley,” Cigarroa said in the meeting.

Vice Chairman Gene Powell choked up when making the motion to approve the recommendation. He said he was proud of how far the Board has come in their efforts to establish another University.

“Thank you for the opportunity to make this historic motion,” Powell said. “It’s really a great moment today.”

Of the remaining allocation, $10 million will go toward building an extension to the existing Texas Advanced Computing Center building on UT-Austin’s campus. The center is located at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus and focuses on advancing science through the use of advanced computing technologies.

The board also approved the construction of a new tennis facility at Whitaker Field because the existing Penick-Allison Tennis Center is scheduled to be demolished in May of 2014 in order to accommodate the construction of new Dell Medical School buildings. President William Powers Jr. recommended the action and said the projected total cost of construction would be $15 million, with funds coming from the money contributed by Auxiliary Enterprises — self-supported, UT affiliated entities, such as the Frank Erwin Center and UT Athletics, that contribute 3.25 percent of their gross revenue to the University.

“It is 12 outdoor tennis courts, grand stands, locker rooms, offices and support facilities,” Powers said.  “I can’t say it’s exactly court for court to [the Penick-Allison Tennis Center,] but this will satisfy our intercollegiate men’s and women’s tennis requirement.”

The Board also authorized an increase in funding for the construction of a pedestrian bridge connecting the Belo Center for New Media and the Jesse H. Jones Communications building across Dean Keaton. With the Board’s approval Thursday, the total project cost went from $65.765 million to $75.765 million. The Moody Foundation donated $50 million to the newly named Moody College of Communication in October and $5 million of the donation will go toward renovations.