By Scott Harvey
Texas Governor Rick Perry Thursday signed a bill officially welcoming two new independent universities to The Texas A&M University System.
Texas A&M University-Central Texas and Texas A&M University-San Antonio each have passed enrollment benchmarks set by the legislature to qualify for stand-alone status. The former system centers had been part of Tarleton State University and A&M-Kingsville, respectively.
The addition of both institutions increases the number of independent universities in the A&M System to 11. The system, which has offices in 250 of the state's 254 counties, also includes seven state agencies and a comprehensive health science center. It operates a $3.04 billion budget and educates more than 109,000 students.
In 1996, East Texas State University was declared a member of the A&M System, becoming Texas A&M University-Commerce.