HARLINGEN, RGV – UT-Rio Grande Valley is growing its footprint in Harlingen, said Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell in his State of the City address.
Boswell made reference to UTRGV School of Medicine’s Institute of Neurosciences, three new practices opened by UT Health, and the university’s brand new collaboration with Harlingen CISD, which will see a campus built in the city.
He said Harlingen has long played a role in the development of the medical school. The State of the City address was held at the new Harlingen Convention Center.
Institute of Neurosciences
Of the Institute of Neurosciences, Boswell said:
“Two years ago at this event, on that day, UTRGV had announced Harlingen would be home to an Institute of Neurosciences as part of UTRGV’s School of Medicine. This was possible in large part thanks to a Legacy Foundation grant of $15 million. As Dr. Guy Bailey put it, this institute of research and collaborative medicine will be of national prominence.”
Boswell said the City of Harlingen took a “huge flying leap forward” on the project in 2018 with the gift of 35 acres by the South Texas Medical Foundation to UTRGV-SOM for the purpose of constructing the Institute of Neurosciences.
“This brings our total UTRGV School of Medicine campus area in the city of Harlingen to over 65 acres. That is for the School of Medicine alone,” Boswell said.
Just last month, Boswell said, UT building and planning officials met with city staff to begin the process of a groundbreaking on this new facility for the School of Medicine. “While the planned groundbreaking will not be until next year, planning is now underway in earnest,” he said.
Boswell pointed out that the 35-acre gift from the South Texas Medical Foundation was made possible by the acquisition of property by the Harlingen Economic Development Corporation.
“Harlingen has long played a role in the development of the School of Medicine. This was a visionary and well-considered investment in land and obviously is paying off. So, I want to thank the Harlingen Economic Development Corporation board and in particular Randy Whittington as chairman of the South Texas Medical Foundation board and the other members of that board for seeing through this important, historic gift of land for the expansion of the School of Medicine.”
UT Health, which is the healthcare delivery component of the School of Medicine, has now opened three practices in Harlingen, Mayor Boswell said.
As an example, just in February UT Health opened its Surgery and Women’s Specialty practice.
“This is part of the academic medicine delivery point for our community. We now have two gynecological oncologists on staff, working here in Harlingen. That is the kind of specialty care physicians which prior to the opening of the School of Medicine we did not have here in the Valley,” Boswell said.
“The opening of these UT Health practices is what was envisioned by our community leaders so long ago when we dreamt of a School of Medicine here in the Valley. This is the kind of improved healthcare and quality of life we had hoped would be the result of the School of Medicine for Harlingen and the Valley. Every day, more and more of that dream is becoming a reality.”
Boswell said other partnerships with UTRGV are “flying high” in Harlingen.
“Just last month the City of Harlingen was pleased and proud to partner with the Harlingen school district and UTRGV to create an extraordinary new educational campus for our city. The City of Harlingen has agreed to gift 30 acres of land to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.”
Already, the University of Texas Board of Regents has accepted that gift, the mayor said.
“On this new site UTRGV and Harlingen CISD will create an early college high school campus which will combine with the UTRGV Higher Education Campus. UTRGV President Guy Bailey said the early college high school students will receive an authentic college learning experience under the guidance of UTRGV professors. This will be a dual enrollment and higher education campus in the city of Harlingen.”
Boswell said Harlingen is committed to “building and strengthening” its relationship with UTRGV, as well as bringing other higher education opportunities to the city of Harlingen.
“We know that higher education opportunities and enhanced public education opportunities through the Harlingen CISD are the cornerstones of future economic prosperity,” Boswell said.
“The city is determined to support workforce readiness, skilled labor and advanced higher education within the city and the surrounding area including our long-standing partnership with Texas State Technical College.”
Boswell said that it was with these objectives in mind that the City Commission purchased the property back in 2014, just as UTRGV was beginning its formation as the newest university in the State of Texas.
“The city commission’s objective in purchasing this property was just with this hope – that UTRGV could expand its educational footprint and build a campus here, within the city of Harlingen. We congratulate the Harlingen CISD and their great leadership and UTRGV for making this dream a reality.”
Boswell added: “With the gift of the 30-acre tract of land to UTRGV, this brings the total number of UTRGV School of Medicine, UTRGV, and UT Health sites to a total of six within the city limits, all within close proximity to each other. This is a great thing for the future of our children and for the future of Harlingen.”