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University of Texas ends plans to build Houston campus

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AUSTIN, Texas – University of Texas System chancellor William H. McRaven said that he is ending any additional efforts to launch a UT project on land purchased in Houston last year.

McRaven’s decision was based on concerns that the project was overshadowing the extraordinary work underway on the 14 campuses of the UT System, and he did not wish to do anything that could detract from the advancement of UT institutions and their presidents’ visions.

Consequently he advised the Board of Regents that any further efforts on the Houston project would be stopped immediately.

“I accept full responsibility for the lack of progress on this initiative. I am grateful to the Regents, my System staff and the university presidents for their engagement over the last year,” McRaven said in a memo to Regents’ chairman Paul Foster.

“I also offer my deepest apology to those members of the Houston Task Force who selflessly dedicated countless hours to develop a bold vision for the future of UT’s investment in Houston. I am incredibly appreciative for their support and friendship throughout this process. While we will not implement this plan in Houston, I am confident that some of the great ideas that emerged from the Task Force will be worth considering on other UT campuses,” McRaven said.

McRaven also recommended to the Board of Regents that the UT system real estate office develop a plan to divest the System of the land. Noting that it will take time, McRaven emphasized that the plan will be executed in a manner that protects the System’s investment in the property.

McRaven thanked the regents for their support and expressed his enthusiasm for working with them on many opportunities ahead.

Tilman Fertitta, UH System Board of Regents issued the following statement:

"The University of Houston is pleased that UT is not expanding in Houston. This was a group effort by elected leaders, our Board of Regents, our administration and supporters to stand our ground against an unnecessary duplication of resources that didn’t align with the state’s plan for higher education."

Statement from Sen. Borris Miles regarding UT Houston land purchase:

"I respect the decision by the University of Texas System (UT) to not proceed with the development of a local campus on the 300 acres located in my Senatorial District. I met with UT administration and leadership several times, and questioned the recently-appointed regents regarding this purchase at their nomination hearing.

"My greatest concern regarding the UT land deal has always been about the nontransparent method by which the land was acquired and by the system's inconsistent explanations for how the land was to be used. I am encouraged that UT listened to the voices of concern and decided to pull the plug on proceeding with the Houston development. I understand UT will now sell the land gradually to an entity or entities that will bring economic development and jobs to the surrounding community.

"UT has a very big stake in Senate District 13 and the greater Houston area, with MD Anderson Cancer Center and UT Health Science Center at Houston. UT's success benefits all Texans, including Houston. In fact, the land in question lies in the heart of my district. But, there must be a methodical and inclusive process when decisions like this are made, especially when it affects our present universities. I look forward to continuing to work with UT System, the board of regents and Chairman William McRaven on ways to improve higher education in Texas and our community."