Tarleton Breaks Ground on Research and Economic Development Building

Tarleton State University broke ground this morning for a Research and Economic Development Building that will create an innovation ecosystem to accelerate sponsored research and strengthen regional partnerships.

Tarleton will share the $7 million facility, at U.S. Highway 281 and East Lingleville Road, with Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

“This is a momentous groundbreaking for Tarleton State, Texas AgriLife and the entire Texas A&M System,” said university President James Hurley. “Today marks the beginning of the next chapter in our 124-year commitment to academic distinction and community connections that lift the living standard, empower the workforce and drive economic prosperity.”

A&M System regents approved funding in May, with move-in set for fall 2024. Construction dollars come from the Permanent University Fund, an endowment created in 1876 by the Texas Constitution to support the A&M and University of Texas higher education systems. Funds received by Tarleton are restricted to capital improvements.

“This building will help bring new collaboration and more research dollars to Stephenville, changing the whole region for the better,” A&M System Chancellor John Sharp said. “Today’s groundbreaking shows the strength of the A&M System working together and serving regional needs.”

Today’s historic event comes on the heels of a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration that will enable Tarleton State to operate as an EDA University Center — the only one in North Central Texas and one of just 73 nationwide. In addition to $650,000 in EDA funding, regional partners are matching the grant in-kind for a total $1.3 million over five years.

The EDA University Center will join Tarleton’s new Institute for Rural Economic Development and Research (also approved by the regents this spring) in the new 10,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Research and Economic Development Building, and the university’s Small Business Development Center will relocate there.

“This is more than a building, this is a continuation of our collaboration with Tarleton State University, and it’s a relationship that we hold dear,” said Dr. Jeffrey Savell, Vice Chancellor and Dean for Agriculture and Life Sciences for Texas A&M. “Together we’re taking another step to create innovative and science-based solutions that showcase Texas as a national model.” 

Dr. Hurley concurred. “For us today, the word ‘groundbreaking’ is far more than the literal turning of dirt. It is groundbreaking research that meets the critical challenges of our region, our state and our nation. It’s the groundbreaking alliance of Tarleton State and Texas AgriLife researchers who dare to imagine a better world.”

Among other topics, researchers are championing plant-based materials to improve water safety; innovative smart climate practices; enhanced rural communications and healthcare; healthier pollinators for increased food production; and greater transportation efficiency.

Dr. Rupa Iyer, Vice President for Tarleton State’s Division of Research, Innovation and Economic Development, called the Research and Economic Development Building an investment in the university’s faculty and faculty-mentored research. She mentioned the university’s largest-ever increase in total and restricted research expenditures ($20 million) and almost 30-point jump in Higher Education Research and Development rankings (to 290 from 319).

“No university team is doing more to enhance quality of life and deliver a life-changing education,” she said. “We’re going beyond what’s known to shape what’s possible. AgriLife will be a worthy partner in this endeavor.”

Texas A&M AgriLife Research has nearly doubled its grant awards in the past year, noted its director, Dr. Cliff Lamb. “We are excited to share in this success and create meaningful ways to collaborate with Tarleton State for agriculture and life sciences to reach new heights in Stephenville and across Texas.”

Dr. Angela Burkham, Executive Associate Director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, said she looks forward to working with the university to bring Extension programming and more service opportunities to the community.

“We’re so pleased to partner with Tarleton on this exciting facility,” she said.

Mustard Design is the architect for the Research and Economic Development Building. The Christman Company is the builder.

About Tarleton State University

A founding member of The Texas A&M System, Tarleton State is breaking records — in enrollment, research, scholarship, athletics, philanthropy and engagement — while transforming the lives of almost 17,000 students in Stephenville, Fort Worth, Waco, Bryan and online. True to Tarleton’s values of excellence, integrity and respect, academic programs emphasize real world learning and address regional, state and national needs.

About The Texas A&M System

The Texas A&M System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $9.6 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, a comprehensive health science center, eight state agencies, and the RELLIS Campus, the Texas A&M System educates more than 153,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs annually. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceed $1 billion a year and help drive the state’s economy.

About Texas A&M AgriLife Research

Texas A&M AgriLife Research is the leading research and technology development agency in Texas for agriculture, natural resources and the life sciences. Its discoveries yield economic, environmental and health benefits that are key to Texas’ success and vital to the lives of Texans. Headquartered in College Station, the agency has a statewide presence and collaborates with scientists and staff on other Texas A&M System campuses and at the 13 regional Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Centers. AgriLife Research is a national leader for agricultural research expenditures. 

About the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is a unique education agency that provides programs, tools and resources on a local and statewide level that teach people how to improve agriculture and food production, advance health practices, protect the environment, strengthen the economy and enrich youth. With 250 county offices serving Texans in all 254 counties, county agents serve families, youth, communities and businesses throughout the state.