Texas State celebrates 10 years in Round Rock
The Texas State University Round Rock campus celebrated its 10-year anniversary Oct. 14 in Avery Building, the first permanent facility on the campus.
University President Denise Trauth thanked the building’s namesake, the Avery family, which donated 101 acres to Texas State in 2003 to build the local campus.
Many city, county, university and university system officials attended the event, and Trauth thanked those who were integral in creating and growing the campus.
“The Round Rock leaders recognized the importance of having higher education in Round Rock and that it would be an economic development and it would be of cultural importance to the city,” she said.
The 125,000-square-foot Avery Building opened in August 2005, replacing a 15-year-old portable building that was known as the Round Rock Higher Education Center.
During the 2003 legislative session the Round Rock community wanted a permanent campus and was “a force to be contended with,” Trauth said.
“After a lot of hard work and many, many late nights, we came out of that session with the funding for this first building,” she said.
Trauth noted that the funding was the only academic building approved during that session.
After receiving funding, the university needed land on which to construct the new building. That is when the Avery family recognized the need and generously donated land for the campus, she said.
Construction on the Avery Building began in 2004 and opened 15 months later.
“Believe me, for state construction that is a record,” Trauth said.
John S. Avery Sr. said the 1,200-acre corn field that became the campus is a fifth-generation Swedish farm. In the early 2000s, Avery said his accountant asked what his family would do with their land. He thought building some homes and nice a golf course would be a good idea, but he was told it wasn’t.
Avery was then introduced to Edna Rehbein, assistant vice president of academic affairs at Texas State, and the portable buildings that then made up the higher education campus. His family agreed to donate land to the university and see what the future held.
“On behalf of the family, we’re proud and honored to have our name on this building and have played a very small role,” Avery said. “If those old Swedes hadn’t come here in 1854 and if I hadn’t met my pretty wife and I didn’t have my accountant, we probably wouldn’t all be standing here.”
At that time, the city was seeking health care facilities and providers, which happened to coincide with Texas State looking to start a nursing school. With the help of a $6 million donation from the St. David’s Foundation, Trauth said Texas State began hiring a director and faculty for the campus in 2006.
In 2010, Texas State, Round Rock and Williamson County “took a huge step forward” and opened the 77,740-square foot Nursing Building that houses the St. David’s School of Nursing, she said.
Since then, Trauth said, the campus has flourished. The campus has 1,809 enrolled students and offers 25 majors in diverse fields.
“Obviously we’ve come a long way since 1996 when those first classes were offered in temporary buildings near Westwood High School,” Trauth said. “And we’re not done yet.”
The state Legislature passed tuition revenue bonds in this past legislative session that will fund a 107,000-square-foot Health Professions Building. The departments of communication disorders, respiratory care and physical therapy will share the new building, which is expected to open in 2018.
Congressman John Carter, Senator Charles Schwertner and state Rep. Larry Gonzales also spoke during the celebration.
Carter said when his children were young, he and a group of his colleagues talked about what they wanted for the future of the city, saying they wanted their kids to be able to come back after college and get a job in Round Rock.
Carter said they then went further and thought, “Why should they have to go off to school?” He thought Round Rock should have a “world-class school” in the city.
“There were other people like the Avery family and others who were dreaming the same dream,” Carter said.
Gonzales spoke about his experience as a Texas State Round Rock graduate with a master’s degree in public administration. He said the fact that he was able to complete his degree entirely in Round Rock without having to go to San Marcos was incredible.
Schwertner said he was proud to work with Gonzales and other officials to get funding to build the next facility to grow the Round Rock campus.
As a practicing physician in the community, Schwertner said he’s interacted with nursing students and graduates and said they are “knowledgeable, well-trained and dedicated.”