The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

New public health, child care, housing and recreational developments are set to expand student opportunities

New public health, child care, housing and recreational developments are set to expand student opportunities - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Contractor Byrne Construction Services continues work Sept. 6, 2022, at the new Academic and Administration building south of the Classroom Hall. The building is expected to house offices and staff currently in the modular buildings east of the Classroom Hall as well as the library on the second floor of the Central Academic Building. Photo by Sergio Medina

During the 2020s, Texas A&M University-San Antonio will see academic expansions that will take advantage of both new in-house and public infrastructure built on neighboring land. 

In an Aug. 31 interview, President Cynthia Teniente-Matson said one of the largest developments is a partnership with University Health, which will build a hospital and a public health facility on the corner of Jaguar Parkway and Zarzamora Street. 

The developments, which Matson said are planned for launch in 2027, will produce academic opportunities for students.

“What they can expect to see, first of all, is a reexamination of our existing degree offerings that may have some courses more specifically related to health science or healthcare administration,” Matson said.

A revised degree on community health is also expected within the next two years. The revisions will consider the conditions of society through the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects.

“There is a greater need for community health professionals,” Matson continued.

Some of these practitioners, known as health navigators, would be trained to guide individuals through the hurdles of public health, Matson said.  

Matson explained there are plans to build a public health program, which would include a master’s in public health, developed in collaboration with Texas A&M Health Science Center in College Station.

“Students could come to Texas A&M-San Antonio and be a pre-med or health sciences major and know that they could have a guided pathway to medical school at College Station, for example,” she said. 

With University Health’s new location, there will be opportunities for field-based experiences, internships, classroom activities and co-curricular activities that would align with the hospital, Matson added. 

Additionally, Matson said these facilities will ease access to student health such as vaccinations, sexual health and substance abuse support. 

The total investment on the health facilities, which Matson said comes exclusively from University Health, will be about $500 million. 

“It will benefit all of us in the community,” she added. 

New child care facilities are coming to campus

“So there is a need; we’re in a child care desert,” Matson said.

These developments are not the whole list; A&M-San Antonio also is planning expansion on its grounds. 

A child care facility planned between parking Lots 2 and 3 will come to fruition thanks to partnerships that include Educare, the United Way, Pre-K 4 S.A. and Avance.

“Think about it as a teaching facility for child care,” Matson said. 

The center will allow for experiential learning through early childhood development education and would also include credentialing for child care development centers — all this while providing services not only for the university but the public, she added. 

“So there is a need; we’re in a child care desert,” Matson said.

The location of a Toyota plant south of campus with about 6,000 employees places A&M-San Antonio in a strategic position to create child care opportunities, Matson continued.

Only one child care center, My Little Team Texas Daycare at 15415 Applewhite Road, is in the vicinity of the plant. 

Though the project received about $7 million from American Rescue Plan Act funding through the City of San Antonio in addition to private donations, Matson said the university is still securing funding for this project. The university requested funding from Bexar County via Workforce Solutions Alamo.

An education and public health facility is in the works

Another university project includes an education and public health facility, funded by $45 million in state capital construction assistance projects (CCAP) funds. 

“We’re actually in programming right now,” Matson said.

Plans for the new classroom building will be submitted to the Board of Regents later in the year, Matson said. 

“So the timeframe for that construction has not yet been identified because we still have work to do,” she said. 

The building is set to replace the modular buildings west of the Classroom Hall. 

Matson explained that faculty and offices currently housed in the modular buildings, in addition to the library on the second floor of the Central Academic Building, will be moved to the business and library building, currently under construction south of the Classroom Hall. 

“It’s a domino game,” Matson said. “These are all the things that are happening.” 

A&M-San Antonio plans launch of second residence building for late 2024

But construction does not stop at academic infrastructure. A second residence hall is still planned for a tentative launch of fall 2024, Matson said. 

In a Sept. 2 interview, Corrin Le Vasseur, executive director of operations, said this is called “phase two of housing.” 

“We started the design portion in January of this year,” she said. “We should complete the design portion to submit to the Board of Regents November of this year.

“Once it is approved by the chancellor (John Sharp) and we get the go-ahead to start building — that means that the funding is there and everything has been approved — we should break ground around February.” 

She explained that any time ground is broken for a building of that size, the university expects a construction window of about two years. 

The new residence building would be located east of Esperanza Hall and similar in size, housing 322 beds, Le Vasseur said.

Renders of the design will become available later in the fall, she added.  

Increase in enrollment has caused Esperanza Hall to become saturated in the past, forcing the university to move resident students to nearby hotels for the duration of the semester. The new building is set to alleviate these concerns.

Access to new residence space means the potential necessity for more parking. Le Vasseur explained that once phase two is complete, the university will assess whether a new lot needs to be constructed. 

“We need to find funding for the parking lot,” she said. “Currently, we have plenty of parking for the amount of students we have.” 

A new road connecting parking Lot 3 from the south is planned to ease access

Leading to the construction of University Health’s facilities, Matson said the city plans to build a road, connecting parking Lot 3 from the south to traffic and facilitating access for students.

Matson said the Jaguar Parkway and Zarzamora Street intersection is expected to become busier because of the hospital and public health facilities.

Le Vasseur said the City of San Antonio should start the design of that road in early 2023.

“My hope is that we get to sit at the table when they’re designing that road,” she said. 

Le Vasseur also said that a recreational center, which includes a basketball court for National Collegiate Athletic Association matches, is finishing its design phase and will also be presented to the Board of Regents in November. Similarly, this project is given a window of two year’s construction and is expected to break ground between parking Lots 2 and 3 in early 2023.

A&M-San Antonio receives land co-ownership from T.J. Maxx

“There’s numerous positive work that’s happening,” Matson said.

Expansion also means new land to conserve. Matson said T.J. Maxx, which owns a warehouse located on 11650 FM1937 and land east of the property, approached the university and the San Antonio River Authority to “co-accept” that land in a conservation agreement. 

“We now are co-owners in that property,” Matson said. “And we’re really excited because it’s almost 400 acres.”

The area is a wetland located east of Roosevelt Avenue and south of Mission San Francisco De La Espada Catholic Church. 

Matson said the flora and historic relevance of the land will present exciting opportunities for research for the university, in collaboration with the San Antonio River Authority.  

“Our intent there is to expand our academic research opportunities, to give students more field-based experiences there,” Matson said. “The land is rich in over 13,000 years of history and prehistory, and there’s a lot of native geographical settings, different types of brush and plants.”

This stands to benefit academic programs like water resource management and biology while looking to create programs like environmental sciences, anthropology and archeology, she said.

“There’s some tall cliffs there that you can only access on that property, so there’s some real rich opportunities for the future,” Matson said. “What we’re going to do first is go through a major master planning effort with the community and determine how we all want to use that land.”

For Matson, this semester marks the official return of everyone from the pandemic.

“There’s just a lot more activity on the campus, and that feels very good for our student programming, things we’re doing in leadership development for students — internships, workforce development,” Matson said. “There’s numerous positive work that’s happening.”

About the Author

Sergio Medina
Editor in Chief
Sergio Medina is a journalism senior and assistant editor for The Mesquite at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. He transferred from San Antonio College in December 2021, where he was editor for The Ranger student publication for four years. Sergio’s proclivity for journalism comes from a love for storytelling consisting of movies, video games, books, TV series and comic books. Upon completing his bachelor’s degree, Sergio aims to be part of the journalism machine servicing the community.

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