UTRGV-ECISD Partnership Establishes Permanent Home

Above — Artist rendering of the UTRGV Edinburg CISD Collegiate High School slated for completion in January 2024. (By GMS Architects)

By Karen Villarreal

EDINBURG, TEXAS – NOV. 29, 2022 – UTRGV and the Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District broke ground on Tuesday for a new collegiate high school to serve the students of Edinburg.

The facility will be located at 1407 E. Freddy Gonzalez Drive, just off the Expressway 281 frontage.

A collegiate high school focuses on academic pathways in the areas of education, engineering, computer science and health professions, as a way to create more seamless transitions from high school to postsecondary education. 

UTRGV President Guy Bailey said the university’s role in the partnership gives students an educational opportunity unmatched in the state.

“UTRGV full-time faculty are teaching the classes, and the students pay no tuition. They will graduate only two years away from a bachelor’s degree,” Bailey said. 

“This kind of preparation will make them highly competitive, and it’s our hope that the students enrolled at this collegiate high school will turn to UTRGV when choosing their undergraduate career.”

Photo above — UTRGV and Edinburg CISD broke ground Tuesday morning for the new collegiate high school located at 1407 E. Freddy Gonzalez Drive, just off the Expressway 281 frontage. (UTRGV Photo by Paul Chouy)

Some 200 UTRGV Edinburg CISD Collegiate High School students and 100 elected officials and university administrators were present at the groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday for the state-of-the-art, 66,661-square-foot facility. UTRGV and ECISD will split the cost of the $25 million project.

Dr. Mario Salinas, Edinburg superintendent of schools, said UTRGV’s contribution makes higher-education programs a viable option for high school students and can change the trajectory of their lives and for their families. 

“One of our priorities at Edinburg CISD is to end the cycle of poverty,” Salinas said. “We know education is the key. We have inclusive admissions ­– there is no financial barrier to attend. We are excited to provide these expanded opportunities for our students through this collaboration with UTRGV.”

Miguel “Mike” Farias, president of the ECISD School Board, said enrollment at the collegiate high school mirrors the socio-economic background of the other Edinburg campuses.

“Education is the equalizer,” Flores told the ninth- and- 10th-grade students in attendance at the groundbreaking. “It will take hard work, but the return is great.”

Marisol Martinez Ábrego, principal of the new collegiate high school, called the groundbreaking – the first ever on a UTRGV collegiate high school in Hidalgo County – a historic event.

“There is no limit to where our students will go,” she said.


UTRGV and the Edinburg school district in March signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) establishing support for the partnership’s academic programming.

The collegiate high school’s partnership with UTRGV emphasizes Dual-Credit Educational Programs to be provided by the university, so that the students can complete college-level basics before high school graduation.  

Students at the groundbreaking said they are excited and eager to be part of the Early Collegiate High School and, prompted by their principal – “Who are we?!” – responded with a resounding,

“We are Collegiate!”

Glory Silva, 15, a student of the recently established collegiate high school, said she hopes to go to law school after graduation.

“Already having my basics done and having a feel for college classes is going to provide a bigger future for me, since I can finish my degree earlier and accomplish more,” she said. 

Silva has been enrolled at the school since the school year began in August – attending classes in temporary buildings until the new facility is built.

Jordan Luna, 14, the first Student Council president of the new school, said enrolling before the building was complete just highlights that the first two classes of the new school’s student body have a pioneering spirit.

“We’re making do with portables and temporary labs, but it’s worth it knowing this nice facility is being built for us,” said Luna, who is planning for a career as an aerospace engineer. “We’re all very excited to get that hands-on experience.”

The University of Texas System Board of Regents met Nov. 16-17 and approved $15,075,000 in funding for the permanent facility.

The building will be two stories, with three large classrooms, 20 smaller classrooms, a library and cafeteria, and 24 staff offices. In addition, the facility has 10 labs, for a 2-to-1 classroom-to-lab ratio.

Samir Zayed, project manager with D. Wilson Construction Co., said the students require that many labs for their college-level courses.

“It’s the right number of labs for these specialized students,” Zayed said. “It’s not just a high school – it’s a collegiate school.”

ECISD is overseeing construction of the project, which is slated for completion by January 2024.

“I feel like this is going to give me a lot of opportunities,” said Nicole Sanchez, 15, a UTRGV Edinburg CISD Collegiate High School student who hopes to study for a career as a gynecologist.