From the Office of State Senator Royce West - District 23

For Immediate Release
April 19, 2001
For more information, contact: LaJuana Barton @ 512-463-0123

GOVERNOR'S DESK NEXT STOP FOR BILL
University of North Texas at Dallas Bill Passes House

AUSTIN, Texas -- Today, April 19, legislation that placed in statute the creation of the University of North Texas at Dallas, passed the Texas House of Representatives with a vote of 141 to zero. The same bill passed in the Texas Senate on March 28 with a 29-zero (one present not voting) vote.

Senator Royce West, the Senate sponsor, and Representative Jesse Jones, the House sponsor, are excited about the final passage of this legislation because the bill is a paramount step toward establishing the first four-year, state-supported university located in the City of Dallas.

The Senate Bill had 26 coauthors. The bill that passed the House had as joint authors: Representatives Helen Giddings, Tony Goolsby, Kenny Marchant and Terri Hodge and co sponsors: Representatives Myra Crownover, Mary Denny, Joe Driver, Harryette Ehrhardt, Kenn George and Charlie Geren.

"Today is a good day for the residents of Dallas and surrounding communities in north-central Texas. This is truly a historic occasion with the passage of this legislation unanimously in both the Senate and House. Generations yet unborn will benefit from this team of legislators who worked as one for a common good, providing access to affordable and quality state-supported, higher education opportunities. We have accomplished a task that we began working on in the Spring of 1997," said Senator West.

The bill establishes the University of North Texas at Dallas as an institution of higher education and a component institution of the University of North Texas System in the City of Dallas on property designated by the UNT Board when the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board certifies that enrollment at the University of North Texas System Center at Dallas has reached an enrollment equivalent to 2,500 full-time students for one semester. Until that enrollment level is reached, the board may operate a system center of the University of North Texas in the City of Dallas. Prior to that certification, the Board may accept gifts, grants, and donations and may acquire land for the University of North Texas at Dallas.

The effort was supported during the interim through the initial state appropriation of $4.2million, municipal and private support of approximately $2.6 million, and a commitment from the City of Dallas by resolution that allows up to $3 million to be spent for the purchase of land or infrastructure for the permanent campus.

Since January 2000, students have been able to take upper-division undergraduate and graduate courses at the University of North Texas System Center at Dallas. The 78,239 foot facility was opened some 104 days after a groundbreaking ceremony on September 9, 1999 attended by more than 1,000 supporters, including then Texas Governor, George W. Bush.

"For far too long, residents of Dallas, more specifically southern Dallas County, have been educationally under served in the area of public, state-supported, higher education," added Senator

West. "The eventual creation of the University of North Texas at Dallas illustrates that the doors of educational opportunity are opening to all residents of the City of Dallas, Dallas County and north-central Texas."

"There is a great need for a state-supported university in the City of Dallas, strategically located to serve all citizens in our state. The overwhelming support of local governments, the business sector, civic leaders along with the increasing number of students now attending the System Center suggest that the time is ripe to establish UNT at Dallas," said Representative Jesse Jones.

"All of us in the University of North Texas System are delighted by the progress of the legislation establishing the University of North Texas at Dallas into law. Once again, our hats are off to Senator West and Representative Jones for their continued leadership. We are also grateful to all those other legislators in the Senate and House who rallied around the legislation to make UNT at Dallas a reality," said Dr. Alfred Hurley, Chancellor of the University of North Texas System.

"This legislation will give the UNT System the authority to plan and develop a first-class public university for the citizens. The System Center will continue to serve the citizens in this area and its enrollment will provide the evidence necessary to trigger the eventual opening of the new university," said Dr. Virginia Wheeless, System Center Interim Executive Director.

The bill that passed the House and Senate will be sent to Governor Rick Perry's office for his consideration. If you would like to support his signing of this bill into law, please forward your

letters or emails to The Honorable Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, P. O. Box 12428, State Capitol, Room 2S.1, Austin, Texas 78711 or (http://www.governor.state.tx.us).

"The Legislature has cast its vote affirmatively and now it will be up to the residents and elected officials in the area to fill the halls of the System Center with eager students and to foster an educationally charged environment that will send a steady and ever growing number of students to the Center," ended West.

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