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Texas A&M’s Higher Education Center in McAllen continues rapid growth

Schools of Nursing, Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences planning for program expansions
Texas A&M School of Nursing students

Texas A&M University is planning a new building at its Higher Education Center in McAllen to house a nursing program that will help address educational and employment needs in the Rio Grande Valley.

Most of the 60,772-square-foot facility will be dedicated to nursing, while just under 5,600 square feet is earmarked for the School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (VMBS).

The project is part of a broad commitment made by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents and Chancellor John Sharp to offer more opportunities for Rio Grande Valley students while allowing them to remain in the area while earning their Aggie degree.

Texas A&M President M. Katherine Banks, who has committed $20 million toward the effort, said the university’s pledge to the community, industry partners and families in South Texas is to provide better access to A&M degrees while contributing solutions to employment needs.

“Our branch campuses are crucial to reaching students statewide, delivering quality education and ensuring community outreach — integral components of our land-grant mission,” Banks said. “This new facility in McAllen will not only meet local demand for bachelor’s-prepared  nurses, but it will also allow community-based research to address the health challenges of the Rio Grande Valley.”

The program expansion to McAllen will initially focus on offering the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.

Nurses are in high demand across the United States and Texas, where vacancies for registered nurses almost tripled from about 6% in 2019 to 17% in 2022, according to the Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

The Texas Legislature authorized $29.9 million for Capital Construction Assistance Projects to Texas A&M University Health Science Center (Texas A&M Health) to support growth in student enrollment.

School of Nursing Interim Dean Susan McLennon said the demand for more nurses in the Rio Grande Valley is immediate.

“The expansion of our nursing offerings in McAllen represents Texas A&M and the School of Nursing’s continued commitment to serving all of Texas,” she said. “Students and community members can expect an exceptional education program, featuring expert faculty and dynamic clinical learning opportunities, that will grow the nursing workforce and help meet the valley’s needs.”

Program proposals will work through Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board processes this year, with intentions to announce starting dates and building milestones later this year.

Dr. John R. August, the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M, said the space will be developed to support research and outreach programs for the VMBS.

Along with offices and areas for students to work, August said the space will include a laboratory and telemedicine studios linked to the new Small Animal Teaching & Research Hospital in College Station. This will allow for patient consultation for veterinarians in the Rio Grande Valley; programmatic partnerships with AgriLife Research and with the Texas Division of Emergency Management also are anticipated in the new VMBS facility, August said.

“This new space will be a very important resource for our College Station-based faculty members whose research involves transboundary infectious diseases, large animal biosecurity, zoonotic diseases, veterinary public health, and bilingual public education in South Texas,” August said. “The VMBS space also will be used for recruitment of professional (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) and graduate students and to support a variety of projects that promote animal health in underserved communities.”

2024 marks the 20th anniversary of Texas A&M offering educational programs in McAllen, which began with Texas A&M Health in 2004. The Higher Education Center opened in 2018.

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