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Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia joined University of Texas Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and four mayors in signing a Memorandum of Understanding that details the area’s commitment to support the medical school with $45.5 million over the next 10 years during a ceremony Tuesday at UT Pan American.
“As we move forward, I can’t help but reflect on the role that this institution has played in providing access to higher education to the people of the Rio Grande Valley,” Garcia said. “Who could have imagined 87 years ago the impact on our South Texas community.”
Cigarroa, who played a critical role in the effort to secure legislative approval and funding for the medical school, said the region has long dreamed of having a medical school.
“Today’s groundbreaking is a tangible stepping stone in the journey to bring a medical school to this region of Texas,” Cigarroa said. “This has been an amazing journey and one we could not have undertaken without many outstanding leaders who have embraced this plan and contributed greatly to its early success.”
Construction began July 1 on the 88,000 square foot medical school academic building. In addition to Cigarroa and Garcia, the others signing the MOU were: McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, Edinburg Mayor Richard Garcia, Pharr Mayor Leopoldo “Polo” Palacios Jr., and Mission Mayor Beto Salinas.
Under the agreement, the cities and county agreed to pay the $45.5 million in annual installments over 10 years. McAllen will pay $2 million, Edinburg and Hidalgo County will each pay $1 million, Pharr will pay $500,000, and Mission will pay $250,000 each year.
In addition to Cigarroa and Judge Garcia, speakers included Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, founding dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine Dr. Francisco Hernandez, UT-RGV President Guy Bailey, Mayor Richard Garcia, UT Regent Gene Powell, William Henrich, president of UT Health Science Center in San Antonio, and Ken Shine, M.D., special advisor to the chancellor.
Powell said the medical school will bring world-class medical education and training, scientific research, and state-of-the-art healthcare to the region.
“This new university and medical school will forever transform the lives of our children and grandchildren – and fulfill the dreams of those who have come before us and wanted the best for this magnificent part of Texas,” Powell said.