By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (April 30, 2009) -- The Army officially gave more than one square mile of land from Fort Hood to Texas A&M University during a ceremony in the Capitol Building here April 30.
For the university, the land will mean a new campus near Fort Hood: Texas A&M University-Central Texas. For the Army, the new campus means use of classroom space and better educational and job opportunities for those families assigned to Fort Hood.
"The long-term payoff for the Army is going to be the educational opportunity that our Soldiers and their families, their spouses and their kids, are going to have at their doorstep," said Secretary of the Army Pete Geren.
Geren added that the new relationships that will form as a result of Texas A&M building a campus outside its gates will simply build on the more than a century-long relationship that already exists between the Army and Texas A&M.
"It builds on a shared rich history that Texas A&M and the Army have -- it goes back to the founding of Texas A&M -- Texas A.M.C. This builds on that rich history and it's an important initiative for Texas A&M to be able (to bring) this great institute to central Texas."
Geren signed, along with Texas A&M System Chancellor Michael D. McKinney, an official document that transferred the Army land -- about 662 acres in all -- to the school. McKinney expressed gratitude to the Army for the transfer.
"From the A&M system I have to say thank you to Fort Hood," McKinney said. "Partners with the Army -- we have been, we will always be. We appreciate you allowing us to be partners with you."
Currently, Tarleton State University-Central Texas, finds a home in Killeen, where Fort Hood is located. Tarleton has been part of the Texas A&M system since 1917. After satisfying a requirement by Texas lawmakers to increase its student population, the school will be allowed to become an independent university under the Texas A&M system, and will change its name to Texas A&M University-Central Texas. The land transfer by the Army is a necessary part of that transformation.
Congressman Chet Edwards was on hand to witness the signing of the land transfer. The congressman's district is home to Texas A&M's main campus located in College Station, Texas. He said the handover was a winning situation for both the Army and for central Texas.
"(It's) a win for Army Soldiers and their families who will have an opportunity to get a world-class education at an affordable price right there in the backyard at Fort Hood," Edwards said. "(It's) a win for central Texas because having a higher education institution of this caliber is always a great investment in a community's future."