THECB Approves Center Construction, New Degree for A&M International

In action Friday, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) gave its approval to Texas A&M International University's construction of a Center for the Study of Western Hemispheric Trade and authorized the addition of a bachelor of science degree in environmental science.

The Center, projected to cost $10 million, will house the University's international trade and business research activities and offices in addition to classrooms, meeting rooms, distance learning classrooms and an auditorium.

The THECB approved the project evaluation based on the Board's standards for cost, efficiency, and space use.

The 58,000-square-foot facility has already benefitted from the generosity of longtime University benefactors Sue and Radcliffe Killam who have pledged $2 million towards its construction. Its construction must now be approved by the Board of Regents of The Texas A&M University System. University officials are planning to have the facility ready for move-in by Fall 2001.

In other action, the THECB approved the University's revised mission statement, the table of programs which govern the development of new degrees and provided its approval for a request for an additional access road and parking infrastructure for the growing campus.

The THECB also provided planning authority for the University to begin its development of additional degrees including Bachelors in Fine/Studio Arts, Dance and Music. Masters-level degrees authorized for planning include Nursing, Biology, Psychology and Public Administration.

A&M International provost and vice president for academic affairs Dr. Ray Keck said the approvals signal new chapters in the University's history.

"This latest level of approval signals our ability to proceed with this vital project and degree addition. The Center will provide a home to our historic research strengths in this area, while the new degree should prove popular with students who are interested in ecology and the importance of preserving our environment," Dr. Keck said.

The addition of the BS in Environmental Science will boost the University's degree inventory to 27 undergraduate degrees and 22 graduate degrees.

The Center is part of the University's Phase III expansion, projected to cost $45 million. It will also include a Student Development Center, Center for the Fine and Performing Arts, Intramural Sports Complex and additional infrastructure.

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