The UTRGV School of Nursing celebrated its expansion during a signing ceremony Sept. 2 with the City of Pharr at the site of the school’s future facility at 2800 N. Cage Boulevard.
In May, the U.S. Department of Commerce awarded the school a $2-million grant under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act fund. The federal funding will also be matched with $24 million in local investments. The project is expected to create 750 jobs as well as generate $30 million in private investment, according to a Department of Commerce press release.
UTRGV President Guy Bailey said this collaboration with the City of Pharr is an important step in growing the School of Nursing. It is also providing education opportunities for the Valley.
“We are grateful to the City of Pharr for its generosity and thank Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez for his support of the UTRGV School of Nursing,” Bailey said. “Together, we can help attract and retain the best and the brightest students as we further expand the Valley’s healthcare services.”
Addressing a Profession Shortage
The planned, two-story facility will be about 50,000 gross square feet. The first floor will house both classrooms and labs, a simulation center, nursing lab, skills center, graduate program lab and student study rooms. The second floor will have conference rooms as well as administrative, faculty and staff offices.
Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, M.D., said the signing event marks a moment of great celebration.
“The City of Pharr is proud to partner with The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley for a new nursing school that will address the shortage of these vital professionals in our area,” he said. “This facility will serve as a catalyst to grow our nursing profession in the region.
“We are especially proud to have this facility anchored here in Pharr, the hub of the Valley, and an ideal location as we are situated only minutes from area hospitals and UTRGV.”
UT System Regent Dr. Nolan Perez attended the ceremony, along with other UTRGV leaders and local representatives. He said the expansion of the UTRGV School of Nursing is an important project, not only for the UT System but also for the state.
“UTRGV is critical to the success of Texas,” he said. “Young kids who grow up here are the faces of the future of Texas and this nation. With the state growing as fast as it is, we need UTRGV to keep up its rapid growth. We’re proud of what’s going to come from this School of Nursing.”
Dr. MaryJane Lewitt, interim dean of the UTRGV School of Nursing, said the signing ceremony also marks an important step for nursing in the Valley.
“We know there’s a huge need for nurses in the community,” Lewitt said. “In this new building, we’ll give students the skills and capacity they need to make a difference from day one.”
She said the facility will also help the nursing programs to increase enrollment at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. In addition, it will help expand the K-12 pipeline already in place with local high schools.
The project is in the design phase through November with construction starting in Dec. 2021 or Jan. 2022. Completion is slated for May 2023, with the facility then fully operating for the fall 2023 semester.