DATE:  April 6, 2004
CONTACT: Jorge A. Ramirez, Assistant Vice President for Communications, (361) 825-2427; Steve Paschal, Public Affairs, (361) 825-2336

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi President Announces He Will Resign to Become Head of Harte Research Institute
Furgason guided Island University through years of unprecedented growth

Dr. Robert R. Furgason announced last Friday that he will relinquish the presidency of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi to become director of the University’s Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies.

Furgason, who has held the post since December 1, 1990, will step aside once a successor is named. In an address to faculty, staff, students and the media, he expressed hope that a new president will be found during the fall semester prior to the next legislative session.

Furgason’s 13-year tenure was marked by unprecedented growth in enrollment, programs and facilities as well as numerous awards for the University’s academic programs. This year, A&M-Corpus Christi became the first university to win two Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Star awards for outstanding programs geared toward student development.

When Furgason, 68, took over as president of Corpus Christi State University it was an independent upper-level university with an enrollment of less than 4,000 students. Today, A&M-Corpus Christi is a four-year institution with 7,861 students in 39 undergraduate, 26 graduate and two doctoral programs offered through the University’s four colleges. Recently, the University received approval from the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to create a College of Nursing and Health Sciences and a School of Visual and Performing Arts.

The affiliation with the Texas A&M University System brought fundamental change and growth to the Island University including a return to NCAA competition in most major sports except football. Currently, Corpus Christi is building a 10,000-seat multi-purpose arena that will be used as the home court for the University’s men’s and women’s basketball teams.

The University also offers the latest in instructional technology including a 64,000 square foot Science and Technology building with state-of-the-art laboratories. In addition, construction is near completion on a state-of-the-art performing arts center. In total, over $185 million of construction has occurred on the A&M-Corpus Christi campus during Furgason’s tenure as president.

When its 55,000 square foot building is completed next year, the Harte Research Institute will bring world-renowned scientists to the campus to further strengthen A&M-Corpus Christi’s research on environmental issues facing the Gulf of Mexico. The Institute, made possible by a $46 million endowment from former Corpus Christi Caller-Times publisher Edward Harte, will officially open its doors in early 2005 with Furgason at its helm.

Furgason’s initial focus will be on developing educational and research programs and hiring six professors and 12 graduate students as scientists and researchers. By building a centralized database of researchers, research institutes, projects and facts related to the Gulf of Mexico, the University hopes to strengthen national and international relationships among scientists of all countries with an interest in the sustainability of the Gulf of Mexico.

One of the Institute’s primary goals is to encourage cooperation between the United States, Mexico and Cuba in the understanding and preservation of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem through dissemination of research results to the scientific community, management agencies, the general public, and policy makers.

Prior to becoming president of A&M-Corpus Christi, Furgason was Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Professor of Chemical engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He earned his B.S. and M.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Idaho and holds a Ph.D from Northwestern University.