Tech Board of Regents discuss possible tuition increases, vet school; votes set for Friday

Tech Board of Regents discuss possible tuition increases, vet school; votes set for Friday
Regents Christopher Huckabee and John Steinmetz speak during a Board of Regents meeting in August of 2017 (Source: Texas Tech University System, Youtube)

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The Texas Tech Board of Regents met Thursday and discussed a possible tuition increase and a preliminary feasibility study for the proposed School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo.

All matters discussed were part of committee reports. The Board of Regents will vote on the items in Friday's session.

Proposed Tuition Increase
In committee actions the Regents discussed a possible increase for Tech and Angelo State University. The proposed increase for Tech students would be 2.4 to 2.7 percent tuition and fees increase for undergraduate resident students. The percentage would vary depending the major but is estimated to cost approximately $110 per semester for 12 credit hours.

Angelo State's tuition and fees would increase by $125 - $131 per semester depending upon the student's major. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center would also see increases if the proposed changes are approved by regents on Friday.

Regent Ronnie Hammonds of Houston questioned whether the University is keeping up with the national inflation index which was reported by staff to be 3.7 percent. Hamonds appealed to the regents to increase tuition more in order to preserve what Hammonds described as "the integrity of the institution."

"It's not a huge increase for each student," Hammonds said.

"I guess that depends on which student you're talking about," Regent John Steinmetz responded.

Steinmetz, who is chair of the Finance Committee proposing the increase, has advocated restraint in tuition cost increases since his appointment to the Board of Regents in 2010.

University President Lawrence Schovanec said his concern was that nothing be done that would jeopardize the University's Tier 1 research status. That matter will be voted on when the Regents meet Friday.

Veterinary School
The Facilities committee discussed and voted to approve $242,300 Preliminary Stage I facilities Feasibility Study for a proposed new School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo. Facilities Director Michael Molina described this as "the Preliminary portion of Stage 1."

The study will be paid for out of appropriated funds from the Texas Legislature.

If the vet school is given final approval, it is expected to serve 240 with additional 150 - 200 non DVM grad students and FTE academic staff of 90 with an anticipated start-up construction budget of $89,820,000. That figure includes none of the academic, staffing or accreditation measures required.

Approximately $15 million dollars in a forgivable loan has been raised from Amarillo for the Vet School. Chancellor Robert Duncan told Regents, "Before we move forward we will have the money from philanthropic sources for the infrastructure."

Regent John Steinmetz was clear there was much more to be done.

"We are committed to raising the entire amount philanthropically so that we do not find our self paying for this from other campuses," Steinmetz said.

The Board of Regents will vote on the preliminary feasibility study on Friday. Further action will require additional approvals by the Regents.

Dustin R. Womble Basketball Practice Facility
Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt discussed the proposed Dustin R. Womble Basketball practice facility. This proposed facility, located west across the street from the United Supermarkets Arena, was made possible by a naming pledge of $10 million from local businessman Dustin R. Womble.

Hocutt said this project is important for the men's and women's basketball programs.

"We currently have three teams sharing two courts," Hocutt said, referring to men's and women's basketball and women's volleyball.

The outside events at the United Supermarkets Arena further complicate practice schedules, he said.

The University is working with Lee Lewis Construction in Stage 1. A start date is contingent on contributions and funds availability.

The new facility will include coaches offices, locker rooms and two practice courts. Volleyball will stay in the United Supermarkets Arena.

The anticipated total budget is $23.5 million.

Regents questioned Molina about the look of the building.

"I'm asking, pleading, that the other side of the building look as good as the front side," Hammonds said, in reference to the plain facade of three sides of the United Supermarkets Arena.

Molina assured Regents that the familiar Texas Tech Spanish architecture will be featured on all sides of the new facility.

Dental School in El Paso
Regents also discussed a preliminary Stage I facilities Feasibility Study for proposed School of Dentistry in El Paso. Molina emphasized this is only a beginning , calling the move "very preliminary."

If approved in Friday's meeting this study will do site analysis of an existing building (Medical Sciences Building II) shell space under construction on the campus. The anticipated budget is $23,300,000.

If it receives final approval, the dental school is expected to start with a class of 40 and eventually grow to 60-75 students per class per year for 240-280 students total.

Like the Vet School, start-up costs are expected by the Regents to be paid from fund raising from philanthropic sources. To date, $31 million has been raised for the Dental School from private philanthropic sources and $10 million from the State of Texas.

Texas Tech University Equestrian Center
The Regents also discussed accepting a gift-in-kind of 2.5 acres and 24,000 square foot metal building for the Equestrian Center.

This facility is part of a larger parcel of land donated from Griffith Enterprises, Inc. / Curtis Griffith family.

It follows an original, larger, gift in 2004 of adjoining facilities. Staff noted this make Tech's facilities one of the very best equestrian facilities in the nation.

The Texas Tech University Equestrian Center is located near Wolfforth off county road 1550.

Staff reported the real estate gifted to the University has a $422,354 appraised value with the Lubbock County Appraisal District.

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