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UT System special advisory group releases merger report
(May 13, 2010)--The special advisory group formed last year to carefully study the feasibility of merging The University of Texas at San Antonio and The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio today (May 13) presented its report to the UT System Board of Regents.
Peter T. Flawn, president emeritus of UT Austin, former president of UT San Antonio and chair of the special advisory group, presented the group's report and recommendations at a meeting of the Board of Regents in Austin.
The group's conclusion is that there is no compelling reason for, and no compelling cost benefit from, merging the two institutions, and the group found no evidence to support changing the board's 2002 decision not to merge the institutions. Key findings include:
- UT San Antonio has the potential to become a nationally competitive research university.
- A merger may advance UT San Antonio toward national stature, but the merger's effect in that regard would be marginal at best; rather, that advancement is largely dependent on the quality of students and faculty and the level of funding.
- A merger would have a significant detrimental near-term effect on the UT Health Science Center - San Antonio as a result of the costs, conflicts, disruptions and distractions during the three to five years required for implementation and integration, as well as a negative impact on philanthropy in support of the health science center.
- Both institutions have visionary leadership and are on a strong, positive trajectory, and a merger would effectively delay achievement of their mutual goals of attaining national stature.
The special advisory group also put forth a series of recommendations for the Board of Regents to consider:
- The Board of Regents should not act to merge UT San Antonio and UT Health Science Center - San Antonio into a single institution.
- The board should continue to support the growth and development of UT San Antonio's graduate and research programs, particularly through additional collaborations among UT San Antonio, UT Health Science Center - San Antonio and other institutions.
- The board should develop a plan to organize, expand and fund the San Antonio Life Sciences Institute (SALSI) as an effective vehicle to advance UT San Antonio's graduate and research programs as well as the scientific goals of UT Health Science Center - San Antonio.
- The board should actively support UT Health Science Center at San Antonio's role in the development of San Antonio as a leading national medical center.
"It is clearly apparent to the board that the special advisory group feels strongly that each institution remain on its respective individual course to further enhance excellence in its mission and service to students," Regents' Chairman Colleen McHugh said. "On behalf of the board, I would like to extend our sincere appreciation and gratitude to Dr. Flawn and the prestigious members of the special advisory group for their hard work and diligence in carefully reviewing the feasibility of merging these two vitally important institutions in San Antonio."
In October 2009, the special group was charged with consulting with students, faculty and administrators from both institutions as well as community leaders with regard to the proposed operational changes; identifying and evaluating potential financial and programmatic benefits and challenges related to a merger; and evaluating and making recommendations concerning legal, administrative and/or practical problems with regard to a merger.
The group conducted meetings in Austin and San Antonio, consulted with UT System officials, interviewed administrators, faculty and student leadership at both institutions and met with business, academic and political leaders.
The University of Texas System is one of the nation's largest higher education systems with nine academic campuses and six health institutions. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $11.9 billion (FY 2010) including $2.5 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. Preliminary student enrollment exceeded 202,000 in the 2009 academic year. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state's undergraduate degrees and educates nearly three-fourths of the state's health care professionals annually. With more than 84,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.