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Higher Education
Texas A&M University at Galveston
by Bob Wright w/photos by Robert Mihovil
Friday, December 08, 2017

Structures Resulting From the Largest Increase in Capital
in
Texas A&M Galveston’s History are Dedicated

GALVESTON The celebration resulting from the largest increase in investment capital in the university’s history was held Thursday at Texas A&M University at Galveston with the dedication of two new buildings.  These structures are part of a $99 million investment in new construction, with another $57 million underway now. 

Dedicated was Phase 1 of the Academic Complex.  It is the first phase of a new academic complex for the campus.  It consists of four floors totaling 86,000 square feet that includes a visitor center, classrooms, laboratories, academic services areas and administrative offices. 

“Since 2010, more than $228 million has been invested in the Galveston campus,” said Col. Michael E. Fossum, chief operating officer, Texas A&M Galveston.  “To continue this growth toward excellence, we envision another $215 million in the future.  The goal is not just to build more buildings, but to take this institution to new heights where graduates will be the best prepared, and the research will touch more and more lives.”

Through a generous gift from the Abe and Annie Seibel Foundation, Phase 1 of the Academic Building also is the new home of the Seibel Student Learning Center, comprised of the Office of Academic Enhancement,, Honors Program and the Undergraduate Research Scholars Office.

“The idea was to create a modern space that would increase our capacity to educate Aggies in Galveston and more importantly create a state-of-the-art learning environment that is collaborative and healthy,” said Dr. Patrick Louchouarn, chief academic officer, Texas A&M Galveston.  “This building is a place that celebrates learning, and we look forward to create value for students and the university.”

In front of the new academic complex is a statue of George P. Mitchell `40, as a young cadet at Texas A&M, which was also dedicated at the event.  The sculptor was Jay Hester of Boerne, Texas.  In addition to donating the 140 acres on Pelican Island to build Texas A&M University at Galveston, Mr. Mitchell is responsible for helping fund the university’s research in flooding and hurricane surge suppression for the Houston/Galveston region. 

Mr. Mitchell founded his own successful oil exploration company and founded The Woodlands, a master-planned community on the northwest side of Houston.  A Galveston native, he led the rejuvenation of Galveston’s historic Strand District and helped revive the city’s Mardi Gras celebration.

“I love George Mitchell, and everybody associated with Texas A&M ought to love George Mitchell for a lot of reasons,” said John Sharp, chancellor of the Texas A&M University System.  “The statue of him being dedicated today is intended to express this System’s and all of our appreciation to the man who gave so much to the Galveston campus.”

Also dedicated was the university’s new Waterfront Events Pavilion/Amphitheater.  The $6 million pavilion and amphitheater includes a multipurpose room that accommodates 150 people in banquet seating and nearly 275 people in theater seating.  Unique to this new building is its indoor/outdoor capability.  The amphitheater extends the space of the pavilion and can be used as a separate venue for outdoor events.

This dramatic increase in new facilities began with the vision of former chief operating officer, Admiral Robert Smith, who retired last year.

“We on the Board of Regents all greatly appreciate the work of Admiral Smith and his wife, Mary Sue, in helping our maritime branch campus become known as one of the best of its kind in the nation and world,” said Charles Schwartz, chairman of the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents.

The day also honored Dr. William Merrell who was recently named President Emeritus of Texas A&M Galveston and a Regents Professor by the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents.  Merrell was a former president and interim president of Texas A&M Galveston. 

“Dr. Merrell’s vision, his love for the community, his unyielding drive and commitment to building the coastal spine that would protect the region and save lives is unwavering,” stated Chairman Schwartz.  “I cannot think of anyone more deserving.”

Known as the “Father of the Ike Dike,” a hurricane surge suppression project, Merrell conceived the concept, formed a team of the best minds and led the research effort to protect lives, property and the economy of the nation against storm surge.  For more details go to: http://www.tamug.edu/mars/Faculty%20Biographies/WilliamJMerrell.html.

Photographs appearing in this article can be purchased directly by contacting the photographer at art@mihovil.com or (409)771-5668.




Remembering Jim Guidry


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