Board of Regents completes first day of meetings

Matthew Adams

The Board of Regents presented project proposals and reports Wednesday as it completed its first of two days of meetings.

The Board of Regents will vote on all agendas proposed and approved by the committees on the second day of meetings Thursday. Before voting, Chancellor William McRaven will present his vision of the University System at 8:40 a.m.  

UT-El Paso President Diana Natalicio presented a proposal to create a school of pharmacy and a doctorate program of pharmacy at UTEP. Natalicio said the University worked with former UT-Austin Provost Steve Leslie in the past for a handful of students to graduate.

“It is going to mean we can admit up to 45 students and, indeed, help the growing population in El Paso and the growing number of pharmacists,” Natalicio said.

This motion was carried by Regent Alex Cranberg and agreed upon unanimously by the other regents.

When asked about the UTEP School of Pharmacy collaborating with other institutions, Natalicio said they are focused on working with Texas Tech and other health facilities in El Paso. 

Michael O’Donnell, associate vice chancellor for facilities planning and construction for the UT System, discussed the construction of a parking garage for UT-Austin on the east side of I-35 and west of UFCU Disch-Falk Field. The 2,000 car parking garage will cost $62 million to finish and is expected to be completed by November 2017.

“It will be the largest parking garage on the campus and basically reestablishes a lot of the parking that has been lost through the development and densification of the main campus, including the Dell Medical School,” O’Donnell said.

The garage will take two stages to build to avoid disrupting the different sports schedules, O’Donnell said. With financial concerns raised by Regent Alex Cranberg, O’Donnell said the public and UT faculty, staff and students using the garage would pay for its construction.

The Environment Texas Research and Policy Center and the Frontier Group reported in a study published in September that excessive oil drilling on UT System lands led to excessive water usage and the release of chemicals during drilling. Mark Houser, chief officer of University Lands, said the University is making sure to follow regulations and care for the land.

“Since our last presentation, I did not really realize I would be writing op-eds for papers,” Houser said. “We have very strong, historic relationships with the state regulatory body. We have a lot of policies in place and we have advanced them as we’ve gone along.”

While the UT System has worked to improve efficiency and methods during a national decline in oil production, Houser said the land is still a very good source of revenue because it is located in the Permian Basin and is a top spot for oil production.