Millions Approved for Local Higher Education

Millions Approved for Local Higher Education

By Kalene O'Brien
NewsWest 9 

ODESSA - Higher education in the Permian Basin could soon be seeing millions of dollars. It's all thanks to a bill by State Representative Brooks Landgraf. So what does this legislation mean for local college campuses? House Bill 100 will bring $62 million to UTPB and the Texas Tech Health and Sciences Center.

"So we're talking about almost a decade that this has been in the works. This is an issue that I brought up on the campaign trail because I knew that this is something that is very important, not only to these institutions but to our area," said Landgraf.

The bill authorizes $48 million for construction at UTPB. That will be used to build an engineering center.

"One in ten students at UTPB, over 500 of our 5,000 some odd students, are engineering students and that is the one program that we don't have a building for," said W. David Watts, President of UTPB.

Another $14 million will go towards building a new medical education building at The Texas Tech Health and Sciences Center.

"This will enable both UTPB and the Texas Tech Health and Sciences Center to take that next leap forward in providing high quality higher education in the Permian Basin but also becoming leaders of the state. Both of these institutions have made tremendous progress in recent years," said Landgraf.

He says administrators at each of these institutions have had this as a priority for at least the last four legislative sessions.

"The sky's the limit with new facilities like this. With this new building, we'll have a first class facility for a first class engineering program," said Watts.

House Bill 100 is sitting on Governor Greg Abbott's desk awaiting a signature. Representative Landgraf says he expects to see it on the books here very shortly.