Blinn trustees consider proposals for development of a district-wide master plan, new facilities

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The Blinn College District Board of Trustees received information and discussed the potential development of a district-wide facility master plan and two new facilities during a board workshop held Thursday, Oct. 3.

The board heard presentations from Richard Cervantes, Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance/CFO, regarding the scope and benefits of a proposed district-wide master plan, as well as proposals to construct a new academic building on the RELLIS Campus in Bryan and a new residence hall on the Brenham Campus. There were no action items on the workshop agenda.

The proposed master plan would cover Blinn’s entire 13-county service area, which includes Austin, Brazos, Burleson, Fayette, Grimes, Lee, Madison, Waller, and Washington counties, and parts of Milam, Montgomery, Robertson, and Walker counties. While Blinn previously has developed three master plans for Brazos County and three strategic plans for the Brenham Campus, this would mark the first district-wide master plan in Blinn’s history.

“The proposed district-wide master plan would position the Blinn College District for future expansion across its service area,” Cervantes said. “Through this plan, Blinn would create a process for the continuous planning of educational facilities, identify priorities in the allocation of facility resources, and involve College and community stakeholders in the decision-making process.”

The board and administration discussed a proposed second phase of construction at the RELLIS Campus. Blinn and The Texas A&M University System set an initial goal for 500 students during Blinn’s inaugural year at the RELLIS campus in 2018. However, student demand for seamless pathways into bachelor’s degree programs offered by Texas A&M System regional universities at RELLIS exceeded all anticipated demand, and Blinn enrolled 1,515 students for the fall 2018 semester. As new associate and bachelor’s degree pathways continue to be introduced at RELLIS, Blinn anticipates that it soon will surpass the 2,500-student capacity of the Walter C. Schwartz Building.

College officials also discussed a proposal to construct a new residence hall on the Brenham Campus via a public-private partnership. In fall 2018, Blinn opened Mill Creek Hall, the first residence hall on the Brenham Campus to be funded through a public-private partnership. Through that agreement, the residence hall was funded by NCCD-Blinn College Properties, LLC, a nonprofit organization established to provide tax-exempt financing specifically for that project.

With the addition of the 464-bed Mill Creek Hall in fall 2018, Blinn-Brenham enrollment increased 16.8% over the previous year. Even with the addition of Mill Creek Hall, Blinn opened the fall 2019 semester with a housing wait list of approximately 150 students.

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