Shasta, the University of Houston’s mascot, is coming to Katy.

UH is expected to break ground on its new Katy campus this May, and officials said the campus could potentially help foster and create a skilled workforce in the Katy business community.

“We want [students] to be able to get their education in Katy and ideally get a good job, develop the beginning of their career and stay in the Katy area,” said Jay Neal, associate vice president for UH Sugar Land and UH Katy.

The UH Katy campus is expected to open by fall 2019 and is located on the northeast corner of I-10 and the Grand Parkway, offering suburban students easy access to a tier one education.

“With Katy and Fulshear growing, it makes sense to bring the university to the community,” Neal said.

Neal said plans for the Katy campus have been in the works for the last four to five years. UH purchased the 46 acres of land and will construct an 80,000-square-foot, three-story building that will anchor the campus. The land was purchased with $46.8 million in capital construction bonds that was approved by the 84th session of the Texas Legislature, according to Neal.

“It sets the precedence for the campus—it will be state-of-the-art,” Neal said of the building.

Neal said the new campus, although it is a direct extension of the UH main campus, will have its own feel to it that complements Katy. Future students can expect to see softer, more neutral colors compared to the main campus, several common areas and a greenspace for students.

“It’s not going to have that old-school feel to it, but it’s going to have that community gathering space,” Neal said. “In terms of enrollment numbers, we are looking to grow that campus probably close to 8,000 students.”

The Katy campus will offer programs from the colleges of engineering and nursing at the flagship UH campus. Undergraduate engineering degrees that will be offered at the campus include computer engineering, construction engineering and systems engineering; graduate degrees will be offered in the subsea program, petroleum engineering, environmental engineering, power systems and corrosion programs.

Neal said officials are working to bring a more traditional bachelor of science for the nursing program to the Katy campus as well.

“I anticipate [UH College of Nursing Dean Kathryn Tart’s] program at Katy to be about 200, 200-plus students,” Neal said.

Neal said the goal for the campus is not only to bring tier one education to the Katy area but to collaborate with business leaders in the community to find out what skillsets students need to be able to create and retain a trained, skilled workforce in the community.

Neal said he and other UH leaders are developing a strategic plan for the Katy campus and working with leaders from the Energy Corridor, the Katy Economic Development Council and the Katy Chamber of Commerce to establish how to best guide students into the business community after they earn a degree.

“It’s very important for us to listen to these businesses and say, ‘What skillset do you need your entry-level managers, or your employees, your engineers, your nurses [to have?’]” Neal said. “To have that input now while the students [are] getting their education is critical.”

Neal said he expects the Katy campus to host business leaders as guest lecturers, career fairs to bring Katy ISD students to the campus and to hold workshops for KISD parents to learn affordable ways to pay for college.

“Katy ISD is very well-known for its K-12 programs—it’s why so many people move to Katy, is the quality of education for their kids,” Neal said. “We believe the UH [Katy campus] is that extension of bringing tier one to the Katy area.”

Neal said while other UH-affiliated campuses, such as UH Downtown, UH Clear Lake and UH Victoria are separate entities, he stressed the Katy campus is not—it is a direct extension of the UH Main campus.

“This is not a separate university: We still serve underneath President [Renu] Khator, we are still Cougars, we still wear red on Fridays,” Neal said.

Tuition at the Katy campus will be the same as the UH main campus, around $4,000, Neal said.

“I think it could really have a big impact for the local community, in terms of economics, in terms of workforce and in terms of the education of the community, absolutely,” he said.