Monday, October 4, 1999
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Donation completes UH Fort Bend campaign

By Icess Fernandez
Daily Cougar Staff 

Texas Instruments Inc. and the Texas Instruments Foundation donated $300,000 Thursday to complete the "Creating Futures" campaign, a fund-raising drive for a permanent facility to house the UH System at Fort Bend.

"This contribution reinforces TI's commitment to research and education to Texas universities as well as to top universities around the world," said Michael Hames, TI vice president and Stafford site manager.

Michael Hames, Texas Instruments Inc. vice president and Stafford site manager, speaks at Thursday's press conference announcing TI's $300,000 donation to the UH System at Fort Bend.  Seated in the background are UHS Chancellor Arthur K. Smith, left, and Sugar Land Mayor Dean A. Hrbacek.

Bruce Kirwan/UH External Communications

The 57,000-square-foot facility, located on a 250-acre campus at U.S. Highway 59 and the Brazos River in Sugar Land, will contain state-of-the-art distance education capability, high-speed Internet connections and the latest in textbooks and labs created by Texas Instruments. The building's library and media center will be named for the company.

The facility will allow UHS at Fort Bend to offer 32 bachelor's degree programs.

"We know first-hand the value of education and the need for future work force development," Hames said. "The key is really hands-on implementation -- being able to direct the curriculum so that the students coming out really have the best skills possible to compete for the best jobs and make an impact in the world."

Students at the facility will also be trained to work with Digital Signal Processing, a new technology that processes information in real time by compressing it. It allows for more channels in the frequency spectrum.

"As we train more people for science and engineering, DSP in particular, we are more and more aware (of the need to) partner with universities to make these educational opportunities possible," Hames said.

UHS Chancellor Arthur K. Smith and three students from the Fort Bend campus received the donation from TI.

"There is nothing very much like this in the state of Texas or even around the country," Smith said.

The campus began as a partnership between the four UH System universities, Wharton Community College and Houston Community College at Stafford.

Students take their freshman and sophomore courses at the community colleges' CentraPlex Center for Higher Education at Sugar Land, then transfer to UHS at Fort Bend.

Enrollment at the campus, which currently rents space in the CentraPlex, is 1,300. The new facility should accommodate approximately 3,500 students with room for future expansion.

Smith stressed the importance of a degree-granting university in the quickly growing Fort Bend area.

"This University of Houston System facility will allow the next generation of engineers, business leaders, teachers and others seeking undergraduate and master's degrees in many critical fields to live, work and be educated right here in Fort Bend County," he said.

UH's presence in Fort Bend County was established in 1988 with the West Houston Institute at Cinco Ranch near Katy, which offers non-credit and continuing education courses. However, the UHS at Fort Bend project is the System's first move toward a permanent campus in the Sugar Land area.

"We have confidence that the city of Sugar Land and Fort Bend County will continue to grow," Smith said. "It is a momentous addition to the UH System."

Groundbreaking is set for November. Classes are expected to be offered in the facility by Fall 2001, with a projected enrollment of 2,000 students.

The $11 million Creating Futures campaign began in 1996 with a $1 million donation from the George Foundation, which pledged an additional $1 million to the campaign this year. Other corporate sponsors include Fluor, Imperial Sugar, Alltel Communications, the Kempner Fund and Reliant Energy.

Private donations were bolstered by $3.5 million from the city of Sugar Land and UHS tuition revenue bonds.

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