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Blinn board authorizes GMP for RELLIS Campus, thanks Trustee Nancy Berry for service

Per attorney general’s opinion, Berry unable to serve simultaneously as Blinn trustee, Brazos County commissioner

December 14, 2016

Nancy Berry

The Blinn College Board of Trustees authorized the College to execute a guaranteed maximum price (GMP) with Vaughn Construction for the development of the RELLIS Campus and recognized Trustee Nancy Berry for all of her contributions at its regular meeting Wednesday.

Berry recently informed the College that she intends to resign effective Dec. 30 so she may serve as a Brazos County Commissioner. Earlier this year, Berry was elected to serve as Precinct 3 County Commissioner beginning in January.

In recognition of her service, Berry was presented a commemorative plaque Tuesday.

Prior to Berry’s resignation, Blinn College and Berry requested an opinion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton as to whether Berry’s simultaneous service on the Blinn Board of Trustees and the Brazos County Commissioners Court would represent a conflict of interest. The Attorney General’s response stated that “a court would likely conclude that the conflicting-loyalties aspect of common-law incompatibility precludes an individual from simultaneously serving as a member of the Blinn College Board of Trustees and as a Brazos County commissioner.”

Berry was appointed to the Blinn Board of Trustees in December 2015.

In other business, the board authorized Dr. Mary Hensley, Blinn District President/CEO, to execute a GMP of $34.2 million, including $28.5 million in construction costs and $5.7 million in soft costs, with Vaughn Construction for RELLIS Campus development. Construction is scheduled to begin in March 2017 and be completed in time for use by the Fall 2018 semester.

The project includes a four-story facility with eight science labs, twenty classrooms, and faculty and staff offices; faculty and staff parking; landscaping; and utilities.

In May, The Texas A&M System unveiled plans to create the RELLIS Campus, formerly Riverside Campus, a new research and development campus to help companies move ideas from the laboratory to the marketplace while also offering a new path toward a college degree. One aspect of the RELLIS Campus plan involves the development of a multi-institutional Gateway Education Center that will provide space for Texas A&M System member institutions and Blinn to offer a variety of curricula.

The new campus establishes a new educational community combining a major university system and a community college at a single physical location. This co-location will allow Blinn College students to transfer seamlessly to leading universities throughout The Texas A&M System in the years to come.

The site also creates opportunities for Blinn to partner with other organizations and institutions located on the RELLIS Campus, including high-end, innovative, private research and development companies, the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), and the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX).

Blinn College and Texas A&M University have a proud history of developing innovative partnerships. Since 2001, the Texas A&M-Blinn TEAM (Transfer Enrollment at A&M) Program has served as the nation’s model for a collaborative, co-enrollment partnership between a major university and a community college. The TEAM Program has allowed thousands of additional qualified students to earn their degree from Texas A&M while enjoying the benefits of enrollment at both institutions, and in 2014 the program received the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s coveted Star Award as one of the top educational initiatives in Texas.

Texas A&M and Blinn built upon the TEAM Program’s success with the Texas A&M Engineering Academy at Blinn-Bryan and the Texas A&M Engineering Academy at Blinn-Brenham, offering students additional pathways to pursue an engineering degree from Texas A&M and helping to meet the nationwide demand for highly skilled engineering graduates.