University Partnership with Children’s Museum Moves Forward
By: Scott Cason
COMMERCE, TX— The Board of Directors of the Northeast Texas Children’s Museum recently voted to move ahead on a unique partnership proposal offered by Texas A&M University-Commerce President Ray Keck. The vision Keck shared with the board members was for a new facility south of campus and on the grounds of the former university president’s home. This new complex would boast both a $30-$40 million agricultural exposition center and an adjoining new Northeast Texas Children’s Museum. The concept of a joint facility is one Dr. Randy Harp, the director of the university’s School of Agriculture, began formulating as a candidate for his current position. According to Dr. Harp, “This university’s farm and laboratory complex is a valuable asset in East Texas. I recognized immediately the tremendous opportunities we might have for sharing our research, technology, best practices and hands-on learning approach to sustainable agriculture with students and educators of all ages.”
According to Dr. Keck, “We are extremely grateful to the Board of the Children’s Museum for agreeing to partner with the University. We together dream of a new museum which will incorporate all the activities of our School of Agriculture, soon to be “College of Agriculture.” I am confident we can achieve the goal of locating the museum in the new agricultural exposition center complex. Children will experience a full introduction to life with animals, on a farm or ranch, and to how we imagine sustainable food production. We are living in a moment when visions and actions, pursued wisely, can transform our environment.”
Since the Museum’s current lease agreement with the University will expire sometime in September 2018, a desire to find a solution to keep this valued resource in Commerce, Texas became a priority. This need in conjunction with the University’s long term plan to replace the current agricultural facility provided a mutually beneficial solution. According to Sharline Freeman, the director of the Northeast Texas Children’s Museum, “The Children’s Museum is very excited about being located adjacent to the School of Agriculture. Not only will the Children’s Museum continue delivering hands-on imaginative play, but we will soon be able to offer an enriched curriculum that includes animals and agriculture. This new Northeast Texas Children’s Museum will be a one-of-a-kind resource in northeast Texas, attracting visitors to a new facility, the university, and the City of Commerce.”
About Texas A&M University-Commerce: Founded in 1889, Texas A&M University-Commerce is a member of The Texas A&M University System. Located in Northeast Texas, A&M-Commerce is home to more than 12,000 students, four academic colleges, a thriving graduate school, and more than 140-degree programs. As the region’s focal point of higher education, A&M-Commerce offers students facilities ranging from the world-class Keith D. McFarland Science Building and University Planetarium to the Sam Rayburn Student Center, to a fully equipped recreational facility and music hall. The university also has convenient locations in Corsicana, downtown Dallas, Midlothian, McKinney, Mesquite, and Rockwall.
About the A&M System: The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $4.2 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities and seven state agencies, the Texas A&M System educates more than 150,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceeded $946 million in FY 2015 and helped drive the state’s economy.
Tanya Charles, M.B.A.M. | Project Manager II
Marketing Communications | Texas A&M University-Commerce
P.O. Box 3011 | Commerce, TX 75429-3011