CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – University President Flavius Killebrew and Corpus Christi Mayor Henry Garrett today (Monday, March 10) put their signatures to an agreement that formally transferred 137 acres of city land near the intersection of Ennis Joslin Road and Nile Drive to Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi for future expansion.
The city’s gift includes around 96 acres surrounding the water treatment plant west of Nile Drive and 41 acres of South Guth Park on Ennis Joslin Road. The land will be used for non-academic facilities such as athletics, housing, a physical plant and parking, which will create space for expansion of academics at the University campus on Ward Island.
In 1972, the citizens of Corpus Christi approved a $1.5 million bond issue (the equivalent of $8.2 million in today's dollars) to purchase Ward Island and donated the site to the State as a home for a new state-supported university. Discussions on acquiring land for expansion began in January 2006 after President Killebrew’s State of the University Address. Since that time, the city and University have worked hand-in-hand to find the best possible location to meet the needs of the greater community.
“This is a historic day for Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Through its generous donation, the Corpus Christi community has once again assured the University’s continued growth,” said Killebrew. “Now, as the campus expands, the University will be able to preserve its unique setting while providing current faculty with support and capital resources for the expansion of existing programs. At the same time, we’ll be able to attract more outstanding scholars to teach and conduct research for undergraduate and graduate programs.”
The University has experienced phenomenal growth since opening its doors in 1947 as a small Baptist college. More than 25 years later, the University of Corpus Christi became an upper-level institution offering courses at the junior, senior, and graduate levels with an initial enrollment of 969 students. Today, the University, which joined The Texas A&M University System in 1989, has approximately 8,600 students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees in five colleges.
Campus expansion studies have shown that the 240-acre Ward Island site can only accommodate the people, programs and services that support around 10,000 students. The recent level of campus growth indicates that this capacity will be reached within the next few years. In the last year, construction has begun on both a new $21 million wellness center for students and employees and a $45 million, 140,000-square-foot building that will provide classrooms and labs for nursing and health science students with space for kinesiology and wellness activities.
A&M-Corpus Christi officials stress that by concentrating academic activities on the island and shifting the land usage for other units to an additional site, the University has the opportunity to serve a market potential of 16,000 students.
A study conducted last year by University economists estimates that for every additional 1,000 students attending A&M-Corpus Christi, $21.3 million will be funneled each year into the Coastal Bend region and another 434 new jobs created. An additional enrollment of 6,000 students translates into $140 million and 2,880 jobs.