By Gary Gillen
Zerwas Brings College to Katy
State Representative John Zerwas, M.D. worked tirelessly to bring higher education opportunities to students in the Katy area. His success will benefit the youth of our area for generations.
Recognizing the need of Katy area students for a high quality education and convenience he used his position in the leadership of the House of Representatives to make the dreams of our children a reality. Named Chairman of the House Committee on Higher Education Zerwas, well respected by his colleagues in the House and Senate, wrote House Bill 100. This bill provides authority for the University of Houston to acquire land and build a campus in the Katy area. Great news for Katy students!
The bill provides authority for institutions of higher education to issue bonds for the purpose of acquisition of land, construction of facilities and renovation of existing facilities. The $3.1 billion the bill authorizes will target 64 projects in Texas with 3 in Fort Bend County. In addition to the acquisition and construction of the University of Houston facility in the Katy area it also will allow for the construction of a new building at the popular Sugar Land campus. The University of Houston/Wharton County Junior College campus has been a victim of its popularity and is overcrowded limiting opportunities for students. An additional building will open more space for students.
With the construction of the University of Houston at Katy and the new building at the University of Houston campus at Sugar Land educational opportunities for students in Fort Bend County and west Houston improved dramatically. As our economy continues to move toward technology based jobs education becomes even more important. Dr. Zerwas’ leadership in this effort is remarkable in its vision. Recognizing that there is also a great need for skills education he also included funds in the bill for construction of a new campus for the Texas State Technical College in Rosenberg. TSTC has existed in Fort Bend County for over a decade in partnership with Wharton County Junior College at its well- attended Richmond campus. Overcrowding has hampered both institutions. The construction of the Rosenberg campus by TSTC will create room for expanded technical education and relieve overcrowding for classical education at WCJC in Richmond.
House bill 658, also written by Zerwas, created the mechanism for the TSTC campus for Fort Bend County. In order for this long time dream for many in our area to come true Zerwas wrote the bills to create the Fort Bend campus and House Bill 100 to finance construction.
Both of these bills will offer our students more opportunities to become better educated and make Fort Bend County attractive to businesses by creating a well-educated workforce. Dr. Zerwas’ vision will pay dividends in Fort Bend County and Texas for years to come.
Addressing a more immediate need Dr. Zerwas wrote and passed House Bill 1992. A college education can be quite expensive. Students who apply themselves can “place out” of classes by scoring high points on AP tests. If a student knows a subject well enough, the theory goes, to score well on an AP test why should he have to take, and pay for, that class? Some institutions of higher education, for reasons of their own, began requiring such unrealistically high scores that they effectively disallowed the practice.
With single class credits averaging $284 per credit hour, parents and students paid a high price for the decisions of these institutions. Dr. Zerwas felt this was unfair. He wrote House bill 1992 to address this issue. The bill requires institutions of higher education to accept credit scores of 3 or higher unless the institution can show though evidence based research that students with a score of 3 or more are insufficiently qualified for the course. With this bill Zerwas saved our students $160 million.
Fort Bend County students and businesses are benefiting from the representation of John Zerwas.
Gary Gillen owns and operates Gillen Pest Control in Richmond. He is the only person in history to have served on both the Richmond City Commission and the Rosenberg City Council. He was the Chairman of the Republican Party of Fort Bend County 2006-2007. He can be reached at Gary@GaryGillen.com