On Nov. 16, Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp said the idea of the merger between Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and Texas A&M University-Kingsville is no longer feasible.
The plan to merge the two universities was inspired by a similar merger resulting in the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley. The state university became fully operational in 2015 after the consolidation of the University of Texas at Brownsville, the University of Texas-Pan American and the UT Regional Academic Health Center-Harlingen, resulting in multiple campuses across the Rio Grande Valley region.
The possible A&M System merger sparked outrage throughout both communities resulting in petitions to keep the universities separate.
“There was a lot of opposition on the merger from both Kingsville and Corpus Christi,” said Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi President Dr. Flavius Killebrew. “Politically for [Sharp] to accomplish this he’s got to have support of the legislators from those communities and they’re not going to move forward on something that they don’t think their constituents are in favor of.”
Killebrew said he thinks it was the right decision to stop the merger from happening, but since there were talks about possible mergers between TAMUCC and TAMUK in the past, he believes discussion about it will come up again in the future.
“I would hope that if they decide to do this again that they enter in to a longer term discussion of it and all of the parties have an opportunity to give feedback and input on the issue and what it ought to really look like,” Killebrew said.
Several student and alumni of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi spoke out against the merger through social media. One student, who wished to remain anonymous, created a twitter account called “@SaveTAMUCC.”
The twitter account started a petition against the merger and gained more than 2,000 signatures.
“I love our campus and the community here,” the twitter moderator said. “Our faculty cares about the students and students are able to interact with professors because of our smaller classes.”
Some information leaked by @SaveTAMUCC included the Oct. 5 meeting minutes where Sharp reveals plans for a “division one football team overnight” and how TAMUK President Dr. Steve Tallant “is going to be the president of TAMU South Texas.”
In the minutes Tallant states, “I don’t care what the selection process is, but Tallant is going to be the president. We are not going to get into any of the details about how the merger would be structured, but the reason to embrace it is because you trust Dr. Tallant.”
According to The Texas Tribune, the decision to stop the merger didn’t resolve tension around the area when a spat between Sharp and a Kingsville legislator over the issue simultaneously spilled out into the public.
“This may be a manner that is going to become a personnel matter because it’s a character issue now,” said the legislator, Republican state Rep. Jose Manuel Lozano to The Texas Tribune. “Lie after lie. And that is part of the Aggie code — that you don’t lie.”