New university to generate 10,000 jobs

University of Texas at Brownsville biology students Julio Cesar Ramos and Jennifer Espinales, never thought they'd have the opportunity to attend medical school right here at home.

But now it's an opportunity they can look forward to.

University of Texas Board of Regents and Chancellor Dr. Francisco Ciguerroa announced plans to merge UTB, UTPA in Edinburg and the Regional Health Academic Center in Harlingen, to create one university that would also include a medical school.

"I think it's a great idea and also motivating (for) students to pursue higher education, Espinales. We can get more degrees in the Valley and make this population more educated."

The biggest advantage to the merge, Ciguerroa said, is the access to PUF - Permanent University Fund - money.

The system has already allocated $100 million for the university.

Ciguerroa adds this new university is predicted to generate by 2022, 10,000 new jobs of an average salary of $65,000.

"Imagine through this university expanding the fields of engineering, architecture, international commerce, environmental sciences, Ciguerroa said. This is just so much greater than a school of medicine."

Officials said medical education in Texas is already one of the most affordable, and having a school right here in the Valley will translate to cost savings for students, that would otherwise not be able to afford medical school.

"There is a lot of potential and they would cultivate that opportunity, Ramos said. Making those students stay, here would bring a lot of growth to the Valley."

One proposed name for the school is University for the Americas in the Rio Grande Valley.