Texas A&M University reportedly purchased a 5.5-acre tract of land last month near the Texas Medical Center, including an 18-story office building.
The reason for the investment nearly two hours south of College Station? A medical engineering program in cooperation with Houston Methodist.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the $62 million deal closed after Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp met with state lawmakers and University of Houston Chancellor Renu Khator.
Sharp said he wanted all potentially interested parties to know about his motives and purchase of the land.
The University of Texas reportedly also attempted to purchase 300 acres of Houston property, but backed out of a deal after it drew criticism for its lack of transparency.
Chancellor Sharp explained he wanted to avoid a similar situation:
“What they get upset about is when you buy something without them knowing anything about it, and then you don’t have a plan for what you want to do with it after you bought it,” Sharp said in an interview. “That was not the case here.”
The University of Houston is also reportedly planning to build a medical school in the same area, but Sharp insists the recent purchase isn’t about competition so much as it is about investing in the city’s medical center.
Methodist Hospital is already collaborating with Cornell’s medical campus based in New York, and administrators say its business model allows for a partnership with A&M, as well.
“As A&M expands its presence in Houston, there will be lots of wonderful opportunities for us to continue to collaborate in the research realm,” Methodist President Marc Boom said in an interview with the Chronicle.
TAMU leaders further said they hope the initiative will drive the school’s EnMed Program, a program encouraging students to pursue dual degrees in medicine and engineering, with opportunities to study at the new campus with new faculty.
They also said its first class is on track to begin this fall.
“This school would not only train doctors, but allow them to invent new products and take their inventions to the marketplace. EnMed would expand the health care technology market at the Texas Medical Center. The potential economic impact to the region would be huge.” Sharp provided in a statement.
Sharp further said the program will be the first of its kind.