Regents approve Health Science Center, A&M merger
Published: Friday, August 3, 2012
Updated: Friday, August 3, 2012 22:08
The Texas A&M System Board of Regents unanimously approved the authority of System Chancellor John Sharp and University President R. Bowen Loftin to merge the Texas A&M Health Science Center under the administration of Texas A&M University at Friday's board meeting. A potential roadblock for the merger would be a decrease in government appropriations to the Health Science Center.
In reciting the benefits expected with merging the medical institution under the system's flagship University, Chancellor Sharp said the $80 million in research funds HSC currently receives would move Texas A&M's research expenditure rankings from around 19th in the nation to about 12th to 14th.
Loftin said there might initially be a negative effect to Texas A&M's Association of American Universities ranking.
"It could in the short term have an effect that lowers that ranking. We think over time — three to four or five years maximum — we can well overcome that through synergy, in terms of research activities collaboration, in seeking increased federal funding for joint projects."
Along with praising the research collaboration opportunities, regents expressed concerns about reversing the success of the HSC by losing government funding.
Regents also brought to light the rapidly evolving world of medicine and asked for assurance from Loftin that Texas A&M will properly merge the two institutions without losing funding.
Regent Elaine Mendoza said Texas A&M should take a step back from pursuing the merger if government funding to the HSC would be affected.
"It would be a shame to add yet another level of bureaucracy to make things happen," she said.
Loftin said the merger is a short-term price for a long-term gain.
"That's why I think it's really worth it to make it happen," he said. "We have to do this so that it doesn't disturb the funding pattern for the institution, because we could not make it work otherwise."
Loftin said Sharp will take the lead in petitioning the state legislature for consistent funding for the HSC.
In fiscal year 2011, 53 percent of HSCs budget came from direct appropriations from the Texas Legislature.
Loftin said merging the HSC with Texas A&M will create worthwile opportunities for collaborative research as well as student access to different educational programing.
"It's not only going to help research, but education here at A&M," he said.
During the meeting, regents also approved authorization for Texas A&M to negotiate and execute a lease and development agreement for University Apartments, which provide housing to mostly international students' families near University Drive and South College Avenue.
The Board of Regents also voted unanimously to approve construction for Kyle Field District Phase 2, which includes renovation to the Bright Football Complex main lobby and the building of a new Sports Nutrition Center.