Texas A&M University-Texarkana today announced three major university initiatives funded by the 2015 Texas Legislature, pending Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature later this month. These initiatives will enhance the university’s mission of raising the higher education attainment level in the region, while also having a significant impact on economic development and quality of life in the local area.
Dr. Emily Cutrer, president of A&M-Texarkana, along with state Rep. Gary VanDeaver and Travis Ransom, district director for state Sen. Kevin Eltife, made the announcement on the Texarkana campus.
Dr. Cutrer said the university is expected to receive $32 million in funding for a new academic complex to house an expanded nursing program, academic classrooms and laboratories. The building will accommodate enrollment growth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs and health-affiliated disciplines that require specialized laboratory space.
In addition, the university will receive $1.8 million to expand its Registered Nursing to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) program to also include a full four-year program to meet the needs of students and the local medical community.
“The expanded program will accommodate students who want a four-year university experience and a nursing degree,” Dr. Cutrer said. “Many of our best and brightest students in the region will now have an additional reason to stay here and make significant contributions to our local economy. Because we are a destination campus, we also will attract students from outside of the region who desire a four-year nursing degree.”
The university is developing a generic baccalaureate degree in nursing for initial nursing licensure, Dr. Kathy Missildine, associate dean of STEM and director of nursing, explained, adding that students can enroll now in the pre-nursing curriculum leading to this degree.
“Legislative funding will be used to develop the infrastructure, including classrooms and simulation laboratories, and for course and program development,” Dr. Missildine said.
“We plan to admit students from our pre-nursing program to the first actual nursing courses in summer 2017. Tentatively, we will admit 30 students in the first cohort. In the second year, we plan to admit an additional 35 students and another 40 students in the third year.”
Dr. Cutrer also announced $1.65 million in funding to expand and enhance student success initiatives at the university.
“Since opening our campus to freshmen and sophomores in 2010, we have piloted a number of student success initiatives that were funded in part by gifts and grants,” Dr. Cutrer said.
“The additional funding from the legislature will help us add more bridge programs for high school and community-college students transitioning to the university, coordinated internship opportunities, and integrated high-impact practices such as undergraduate research and community service learning,” Dr. Cutrer said.
“We’ll also have an opportunity to grow our tutoring services and our supplemental instruction academic assistance program that uses peer-assisted study sessions to enhance student learning.”
Dr. Cutrer expressed appreciation to Rep. VanDeaver, Sen. Eltife and colleagues at The Texas A&M University System for their efforts on behalf of the university.
“Rep. VanDeaver and Sen. Eltife truly championed the mission of A&M-Texarkana at the Capitol,” Dr. Cutrer said. “We are so very fortunate to have their outstanding leadership and representation.”
Dr. Cutrer also thanked local leaders from the chamber of commerce, city and county, students and others who participated in “Bowie County Days” at the State Capitol.
“We simply would not have had this much success without your encouragement, support and advocacy,” she said.