Proposal calls for demolition of president’s home

Suggests agricultural complex off U.S. highway 24

Cristhian Herrera, News Editor

Christian Herrera
The former president’s home has been empty since mid-2016.

Cristhian Herrera | News Editor

Located off Highway 24 is a two-story French provincial house built in 1968 at a cost of $55,000 that served as the university president’s home from 1968 until 2016. Various additions and renovations occurred in 1972 and 1999, totaling about $210,000. Today however, the home is vacant and is scheduled for demolition.

After A&M – Commerce President Mark Rudin made the decision to live in the Heritage House, just as former President Ray Keck before him, proposals determining the future of 50-year-old house started developing.  

“Our plan is to build the new agricultural complex behind the existing home,” Alicia Currin, vice president for business and administration and CFO, said. “We have submitted this project as a capital item request for the 86th legislative session but will not know until next year if it is approved for funding.  Additionally, we have had discussions with The Northeast Texas Children’s Museum about possibly relocating within that general area.”

A similar proposition was submitted and approved to build the nursing building for the School of Nursing and Health Sciences. It was approved for funding in 2015 after the state legislative session ended and is expected to be operational in 2019.

Dean of Agricultural Sciences Randy Harp believes the complex will bring growth for TAMUC students and jumpstart “economic development” in east Texas.  In addition to state approved funding, Harp said they will look to third-party sponsors to fund construction.

“We are looking towards the state to help us with building… but if a corporate partner or individual investor funds, we’ll start tomorrow,” Harp said. “We’ll [even] name it after them.”

The agricultural department has seen a 19 percent increase in enrollment, when compared to the 2017 fall semester, and according to Harp, completing the current proposed complex (three further expansions are expected) would bring the department “more cutting edge [programs] and research.”

The complex, if approved, would be constructed within a four to five year period. Harp believes this “agricultural multi-purpose education training center” would benefit the university and surrounding regions by hosting events such as a national equine and livestock show and high school and adult educational programs. According to Harp, the complex would be “transformational” for Commerce, the county, and any regional northeast Texas stakeholders.

“We want it to be the go-to place in northeast Texas.”