The University of Houston-Clear Lake Pearland campus will break ground on a second building in 2017 after Pearland City Council approved the donation of land to the school system June 18.
The decision paves the way for construction of UHCL-Pearland’s Health Sciences and Classroom building, which will be about 52,000 square feet, officials said.
The new facility will provide additional room for the campus’s existing degree programs as well as open the possibility to other areas of study, UHCL President William Staples said.
“In the big scheme of things, [the new building]is very significant,” he said.
Construction of the Health Sciences and Classroom building will begin in March 2017, Staples said. Classes in the new facility are expected to start in the fall 2018 semester.
UHCL-Pearland occupies about 23,000 square feet of a shared building with the Pearland Economic Development Corporation. The PEDC will relocate in August, providing an additional 7,000 square feet for the university, Staples said.
The Health Sciences and Classroom building is expected to spur a growth in the Bachelors of Science in nursing program, Staples said. Other health care programs will be considered for the building to help meet industry demand in the area.
“As we look at the city of Pearland, some of its major employers have been the expansion of health care institutions,” Staples said.
UHCL-Pearland could also be the site of a satellite children’s autism treatment center similar to the one at the main campus.
“We’re strongly thinking about it,” Staples said. “It’s not 100 percent sure, but it’s definitely moving in that direction.”
Degree programs outside of health care will be considered for the new building as well, Staples said. The additional building creates an opportunity to offer freshman- or sophomore-level courses at the Pearland campus as well. Staples said UHCL-Pearland could one day become a four-year university like the main campus.
The UHCL system received $24.6 million in tuition revenue bonds to fund the new building as a result of the 84th Texas Legislature. Staples said the expansion would not be possible without the work of local state legislators Rep. Ed Thompson, R-Pearland; Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood; and Rep. Greg Bonnen, R-Friendswood.
Staples said support from Pearland officials—including Mayor Tom Reid, City Manager Clay Pearson, City Council and former city staff—has been vital since UHCL opened its second campus on the city property in fall 2010.
“If they had not done that, [UHCL-Pearland] would not have happened,” Staples said. “It was absolutely critical. We by ourselves could not have done it.”