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Texarkana A&M University System Board of Regents approved $32 million in funding for A&M-Texarkana's Academic and Student Services building during its meeting Thursday.

The 58,000-square-foot building will house much-needed classrooms and laboratories to meet the needs of the school's expanding enrollments, particularly in nursing and health fields, as well as science, technology, engineering and math courses.

Thursday's approval by A&M regents was the final official step in the process. The $32 million for the academic and student success building was made possible in 2015 during the 84th Texas Legislative Session. The first announcement of funding was made in June 2015.

In earlier interviews, A&M-Texarkana President Dr. Emily Curter said the building "will enhance the university's mission for raising the higher education attainment level in the region while also having a significant impact on economic development and quality of life in the local area."

Last June, state and area lawmakers, academic administration and city leaders attended a groundbreaking for the academic and student success building and the 38,000 square-foot recreation and wellness center.

Construction on the academic and student services building is expected to take about 18 months to two years. The anticipated occupancy date is Spring 2019.

The project's architects and design team met regularly to conceptualize plans for the building.

State Rep. Gary VanDeaver, R-New Boston, was instrumental in obtaining funding for the project.

"We cannot regulate our way to a better Texas. We will not legislate our way to a better Texas. My friends, our best hope is to educate our way to a better Texas," VanDeaver said during last year's groundbreaking ceremony.

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