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For Immediate Release

UT Regents Commend UTB/TSC for Work on Border Proposal

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – AUGUST 14, 2008 – The University of Texas System Board of Regents commended the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College President Dr. Juliet V. Garcia and her negotiating team for their work with the federal government regarding enhanced border security at the board’s regular meeting on Thursday, Aug. 14 in Austin. 

Board Chairman H. Scott Caven Jr. of Houston commended the team for developing and negotiating a creative solution that met the needs of UTB/TSC and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection (DHS/CBP).

“On behalf of the board, I would like to express our sincere appreciation to the many individuals who worked so diligently to find a compromise outcome that would satisfy the responsibilities of both UT Brownsville/Texas Southmost College and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security related to the construction of the proposed border fence,” Caven said.

Caven recognized the team made up of Dr. Garcia; Michael Putegnat, negotiating project team manager; Ben Reyna, special assistant to the provost for federal relations; Dr. Jude Benavides, assistant professor of chemical and environmental sciences; Dan Rentfro, TSC general counsel; Barry Burgdorf, UT System vice chancellor and general counsel and Dan Sharphorn, UT System deputy general counsel.

The Board of Regents has authorized up to $1 million to help construct the fence and money will come from the UT System’s Intermediate Term Fund.

The design calls for the University to increase the height of its current 8-foot-high fence to 10 feet and upgrade it with high technology security devices. The enhancements would complement security methods already in use on the campus.

“We currently have fencing along the campus property line. We plan to upgrade the existing fencing, add technology and incorporate landscaping that will compliment the natural beauty of the University, “ said Garcia. “This plan will allow DHS/CBP to carry out their mission and the University to preserve the educational and historic nature of the campus.”

UTB/TSC has submitted a design to DHS/CBP and it is expected to receive final approval Thursday, Aug. 14. 

Request for Proposals (RFP) for construction for the fence will be advertised in the local newspapers Friday, Aug. 15.  The RFP proposal will also be posted on line.

“Vendors may submit bids to the University as detailed in the RFP. Our plans call for the completion of the project before December 31. We expect to meet this completion date,” said Dr. Wayne Moore, who is coordinating construction.

The finalized agreement, which was filed in federal court on Tuesday, Aug. 5 and formally signed by the Texas Southmost College Board of Trustees later that day, ended all court proceedings between UTB/TSC and DHS/CBP.

Condemnation actions filed by the government against UTB/TSC also ended effectively allowing the University to retain ownership over all property.

The agreement also allows UTB/TSC more room for future expansion and commits the federal agency to support the University’s long-term expansion plans. 

UTB/TSC and DHS /CBP will also establish a center to study border issues including security. It would examine, among other elements, the use of technology in lieu of physical barriers for securing the border. The southern perimeter of the UTB/TSC campus will be part of a laboratory for testing new technology and infrastructure combinations. 

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