A state bill that could give Sam Houston State University funding for a new biology building was deferred to the Committee on Higher Education on Monday.
Senate Bill 21, filed by State Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo), includes requests from Texas institutes of higher education for tuition revenue bonds to help fund on-campus projects. SHSU’s request was for $60 million for the construction of a new biology laboratory building.
According to Carlos Hernandez, vice president of finance and operations at SHSU, the amount for which the university is asking is “an appropriate level relative to [SHSU’s] current facility needs.” The one request came in spite of the university having the highest rate of growth among every other institution in the Texas State University System.
Other universities and colleges in TSUS requested more money for more projects in the same bill, including Texas State University and Lamar University which both have a lower rate of growth. The SHSU student population has grown 49.7 percent since 2002, while TXST is up 46.8 percent and LU is up 47.4 percent since the same year.
Hernandez said other criteria were used, including overall population, space deficits and rates of growth. He said the university also has plans for whether or not the bill passes.
“I continue to be cautiously optimistic that the state leadership will endorse and support these projects and related funding,” Hernandez said in an email. “The university has already initiated programming efforts in an effort to minimize the construction life cycle as we patiently wait for the legislature’s determination on this matter. The university will re-evaluate all its options in the event that these initiatives fail to gain approval.”
The biology laboratory building is among six capital improvement projects at SHSU for which funding has not yet been identified, according to TSUS documents.
SHSU may update this list during the upcoming Board of Regents meeting Feb. 19 and 20.