University of Texas System regents approved a plan Thursday for a $310 million engineering education and research center at the Austin campus.
The approval, which was expected, included a provision to increase engineering enrollment and the size of the engineering faculty.
Under the plan, UT-Austin will take on as much as $150 million in bond debt, raise $50 million in donations and draw $5 million from reserves. The UT System will provide $105 million in bonds to complete the funding package.
But there are a couple of twists. If UT-Austin cannot raise more than $50 million in donations, it will have to repay the system $55 million. If the Austin campus raises $105 million in donations, it won’t have to repay the system, and the campus will have to take on just $95 million in bond debt.
“We’re confident we can do that,” said UT-Austin President Bill Powers.
Regent Alex Cranberg said he was pleased that the plan calls for expanding undergraduate engineering enrollment. The university has agreed to increase enrollment by 1,000 for a total of 6,000 engineering students once the construction is finished.
The increased enrollment, in turn, will generate additional tuition revenue that will fund an increase in engineering faculty members to 74 from the current level of 65, according to a UT System document. The number of engineering students working on doctoral degrees is projected to increase to 480 from 300.
The new building, which is scheduled to be completed in December 2017, will replace a cramped and inefficient engineering building constructed a half-century ago.
In other action Thursday, the regents authorized staff members to work out a small land swap with the city of Austin to accommodate a planned medical school and a realignment of Red River Street. Regents also approved base compensation for 15 campus presidents and top system administrators, but the figures weren’t immediately available.