its big move
Texas A&M University-Texarkana moved its administrative offices, classrooms and library to the Bringle Lake campus just in time for the first class of freshman to begin classes in 2010.
During the inaugural freshman orientation held in June at the campus' Science and Technology Building, President Dr. C.B. "Bix" Rathburn announced the university's move from its Robison Road location to the new $75 million University Center.
The $18 million Science and Technology building, the first of a five-phase plan, opened in 2008. The structures marked pivotal points in the university's plan to downward expand, making plenty of room for the first freshman and sophomore students to attend the 375-acre campus. It also made a three-decade-long plan a reality.
The honor roll for the dedication event included native son and former presidential candidate Ross Perot; entrepreneur Truman Arnold and wife Anita; U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall of Texas; Texas Sen. Kevin Eltife; Texas Rep. Stephen Frost; Arkansas Rep. Steve Harrelson; A&M University System Chancellor Mike McKinney; Cresencio Davila, A&M University System student regent; and former A&M-Texarkana presidents Dr. John F. Moss and Dr. Stephen R. Hensley.
"We gather here in Texarkana to celebrate another great educational attainment and another moment in great educational pride," Hall said at the event. "I know that one of the things I've noticed and been proud of is the cooperative spirit that prevails here in Bowie County and, yes, in Texarkana."
The first day of school at the Bringle Lake campus was Aug. 26, 2010. Rathburn said the freshmen were making history.
"You'll establish the traditions that will be here for the next 50 years. You get to establish them this year."
The only thing missing was student housing. That would be remedied with a plan to build a 86,000-square-foot, 296-bed housing complex northeast of the of the University Center. The $14 million project began in July 2010.
TC in trouble;
With a three-year deficit totaling $14.8 million that almost depleted the college's reserve funds, Texarkana College's Board of Directors called for a new direction. Administrative maladies and financial woes left the college at the brink of disaster.
Then, the 84-year-old institution did something smart. It hired its eighth president—James Henry Russell, then the superintendent of Texarkana Independent School District, to clean up the mess.
It took years of work to get the college back on the right course, but today it is on solid financial ground, as vibrant as ever.
Russell proposed several ways to get the $26.5 million in expenses under control. At the time he had to cut $6 million to get expenditures matching revenues. There were layoffs and employee benefit reductions. Expensive systems and programs were dropped, contracts renegotiated. Even with all the cost-saving efforts, TC faced a $3.1 million deficit.
It was a bleak time. "Everything is losing money," Russell said at the time.
By the end of 2011, the college's once healthy reserve fund of $22 million was gone.
Under Russell's direction, and after doing all it could to stop the bleeding, school officials reached out to Bowie County taxpayers in November 2012 and basically put the fate of the institution in their hands.
They came through.
Groundbreaking for new campus
Community members gathered on the newly named U of A Way in late November to celebrate the expansion of the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope to a campus in Texarkana, Ark., and break ground.
About two months earlier, trustees had closed on 8 acres of land on East 54th Street across from Bobby Ferguson Park and the Four States Fairgrounds. They hoped construction would be complete within a year.
The location was ideal because of its proximity to Interstate 30 and state Highway 245.
"It will provide the highest level of convenience for our students and community Community College at Hope and its campus in Texarkana, Chancellor Chris Thomason said at the time.
He said the move was part of a long-term commitment to meeting the higher education needs of Miller County and surrounding communities.
Thomason also thanked Charlie Diffenbacher and family, the former land owners.
"Because of your generosity, we literally have ground to stand on," he said.
Mayor Wayne Smith said, "We are excited to have the University of Arkansas locate a campus in Texarkana that will benefit our citizens" and keep "our high school kids in Texarkana."
State Sen. Steve Harrelson, authored a Senate bill to fund UACCH's expansion to Texarkana, garnering $1 million for the project.
"We should have done this decades ago to tell you the truth," he said.
voters save TC
Voters approved the expansion of Texarkana Colleges taxing district to all of Bowie County with a count of 14,345 to 11,082. Ross Perot promised millions to the college if the annexation was approved. Earlier in 2012, the college had already shuttered all the athletics. The Southern Association of Colleges and School, the college's accrediting agency, put the school on warning. The budget was bare bones, and officials were saying there was no other plan if the annexation failed. The college district increased from 16 square miles to 1,000 square miles. The college would collect $3.5 million from the new area.
Texas A&M University-Texarkana and Texarkana College officials announced a building and land swap. The university will convey all of its property on Robison Road to Texarkana College including the Aikin Building, the academic building, 3.25 acres near College Bowl and the Moss Library in exchange for the college's farm and $340,000.
The college will lease the academic building until July 31, 2016, then pay $340,000 to finalize the deal.
"This is the first step in a continuation of working together for the betterment of the community," A&M-Texarkana President Emily Cutrer said.
A&M System Chancellor John Sharp, flanked by Cutrer and TC President James Henry Russell, talked about the university's responsibility to the taxpayer. "This property belongs to the Texas taxpayers. This is certainly in the best interest of the taxpayers of Bowie County. We want to set an example to consider the taxpayers," Sharp said.
It make sense for the university to make this arrangement before planning on future construction at the University Drive campus.
In the 1970s, A&M and TC shared the Robison Road location. A&M-Texarkana—then East Texas State University— served upperclassman, and TC served those seeking an associate degree or certificate. With the state's approval of A&M's downward expansion—accepting freshman and sophomore students—the university began construction at Bringle Lake. The university moved most of its business to University Drive in July 2010, after it first building was completed.
The Academic Building was built in 1998 and is connected by a second story lounge with the Aikin Building. In 2001, 3.235 acres of unimproved land behind College Bowl was also given to A&M by a private donor.
The college's farm is near Redwater. The college has owned the property since the 1970s; for many years, it served as a place for students to study farm animals and plants, but in the last decade, it has not been used as it once was, officials said.
Texarkana College announced it will create a full-size historical replica of a cotton sales office owned and operated by H. Ross Perot's father, Gabriel Ross Perot.
H. Ross Perot, a native son, billionaire and T.C. alumnus planted seeds for TC's financial recovery.
When it was completed, it was placed in the college's library as a monument and tribute to Perot's initial $1 million gift to the college in 2012. The actual woodframe Gabriel Ross Perot Cotton Sales Office used to sit in the 100 block of the Lelia Street in Texarkana.
Besides the initial gift, Perot also pledged an additional $4 million to TC, which was doled out in $1 million increments to the college each year until 2016. Residents secured this additional money from Perot by voting last November to expand the college's taxing district.
"I call Texarkana the center of my universe," Perot said at the event. "Whatever I've become, or whatever good I've been able to do, I'm just a mere fraction of my what parents were. They were the very best."
TC President James Henry Russell revealed the project at a luncheon Monday attended by more than 400 community leaders.
UAMS Southwest expands location
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Southwest announced it was expanding from its location at 300 E. Sixth St., Texarkana, Ark., to the Osborne Building, 3417 E. 54th St. Family Medical Center Texarkana, UAMS Southwest's residency clinic, now occupies the new location. It cost about $3 million to renovate the property.
The expansion will increase the number of patients that can be seen at UAMS Southwest's three clinics, which include the residency clinic, the All For Kids pediatric clinic and the other adult clinic, which will remain at the Sixth Street location.
"In the proposed design, faculty will be embedded into the clinic physically so they will be very close to the patient rooms, the residents and the nurses," said Patrick Evans, UAMS Southwest director, at teh time. "We're creating a hub around which all patient care is provided. In our current situation, the faculty are not embedded into the actual care areas. By taking space and optimizing where you have faculty right there, you have a very close working relationship in a relatively small physical space."
A&M opens 38,000-square-foot student center
The Lois and Cary Patterson Student Center opened on the Texas A&M University-Texarkana campus, and the first-ever on-campus graduation was held a few weeks later.
Dedicated during a ceremony in October, the 38,000-square-foot center houses new classrooms, kinesiology programs, a regulation-size basketball/volleyball court and a biomechanics and motorskills lab. It also features a training and fitness center, a recreation room, Ace's Place cafe and a Starbucks coffee shop. Additional features include locker rooms, coaches' quarters, the athletic director's office and 12 offices for faculty and staff.
A&M-Texarkana President Dr. Emily Cutrer said having state-of-the-art facilities will help the university attract more students.
"Study after study, all across the nation and the world, have shown that students who are more engaged and active on campus are more successful," Cutrer said. "We know that student engagement opportunities help build a community where students develop not only as scholars but also as well-rounded individuals."
Construction for the $11 million center was funded through a public-private partnership with Eagle Lake Development of Texarkana, which owns the building. Over time, the university will purchase the building from the company.
Nearby, the 58,000-square-foot Building for Academic and Student Services would open in 2019.
The first floor contains enrollment services, financial aid and the business office. The second floor has the college of business, and the third floor is a simulated hospital for the university's nursing program.
The $32 million BASS building was funded in 2015 through the Texas Legislature.
The new Betty & Buddy Ledwell Workforce Training Center opened on the campus of Texarkana College as the site where students can earn certificates and degrees in high-demand industrial jobs.
The 20,000-square foot facility will house the college's construction technology, electrical technology, industrial maintenance and electronics and instrumentation programs, all aimed at producing a jobready workforce.
During the opening dedication, the Ledwell's son, Steve Ledwell, spoke about his father, who started the Ledwell and Son lumber yard with his father in Texarkana after World War II. The business expanded to its present form, a 400-employee, 82-acre manufacturing site.
Then-TC President James Henry Russell thanked the Ledwells for their contribution to the community.
"We built this building the Ledwell way, with a lot of sweat, a lot of hard work, and did a lot of it in-house," he said. "Twenty thousand square feet, and I believe we're in this building for a little less than a million dollars. That's around $50 a square foot and that's really impressive."
Enrollment in TC's workforce program has increased by 26 percent over the past year, said Brandon Washington, dean of workforce and continuing education.
A&M-Texarkana opens another building
Texas A&M University-Texarkana spotlighted its newest facility, the Building for Academic and Student Services. It contains enrollment services; the business office; the Veterans Services Center; classrooms and offices for the College of Business, Engineering, and Technology, and a state-of-the-art nursing wing and hospital simulator for the university's nursing program.
The building's business, engineering and technology school facilities include tech-enabled classrooms and plenty of spaces where small group study and collaboration can take place. Many of the walls serve as white boards, and erasable markers are handy.
Alongside the first floor's administrative offices is a Creative Hub available to all the university's students for brainstorming and collaboration.
The BASS cost $32 million and was funded in 2015 through the Texas Legislature.