TOME — When students at The University of New Mexico-Valencia campus returned to classes this fall, they most likely noticed upgrades and improvements across the campus.

From spiffed up parking lots to improved lecture halls to a safe space for at-risk students, Rick Goshorn, director of business operations, says the improvements are all geared toward making the campus more welcoming to students.

“The goal is to create a more ‘collegiate’ atmosphere,” Goshorn said. “The most visible things are logos and banners, more branding. We want to create spaces that, once students are done with classes, they want to stay, hang out.”

The campus’ student union building has gotten an update and face lift, creating study areas with comfortable chairs and small white boards for collaboration and brain storming.

“It’s a complete renovation. It was one of the first buildings built here in the late 1980s. It was very dated,” Goshorn said. “The kitchen also got upgrades as well.”

Julia M. Dendinger | News-Bulletin photo
The outdoor seating area for the student union building at The University of New Mexico-Valencia campus got an update, as did the rest of the building, just in time for fall classes. The abstract lattice pattern of the shade structures and seen in other renovations on campus reflects the features of the Rio Grande Valley as seen from the air.

The main lecture hall in the academics building has undergone improvements ranging from better sound dampening to ADA complaint ramps and chairs that can pivot to let students create small groups to work on projects.

Other improvements include renovations to the campus “back” entrance on its west side near the health science and nursing buildings.

“A lot of sand had blown into that area and it all just needed improvement. We redid the landscaping and addressed some disability and access issues,” Goshorn said. “We’ve resurfaced all the parking lots, striped and painted them.”

At this point, most of the buildings on campus as well as two parking shade structures have solar panels on their roofs, he said, allowing the campus to generate more than 70 percent of its own power.

Another project nearing completion is space in the Learning Resource Center for at-risk students.

“We have some federal grant funding that can be used to serve our most at-risk students to provide safe space for them,” Goshorn said. “It will have showers, washers and dryers, a kitchen.”

The newest project for the college is its Workforce Training Center in the village of Los Lunas. Goshorn said the work on the center is moving along quickly, with completion anticipated by the end of the year.

“They have not had as much trouble as others with the supply chain. As we were going through the design process, they kind of saw what was happening, so they bought the lumber package and RAKS held it for us,” he said.

Goshorn said the contractor is confident the center will be finished in November, but he said December is more realistic.

“If it’s done in November, that’s great, but you know how construction projects go,” he said with a chuckle. “Right now though, come January and the new semester, it’s right on schedule.”

The training center will offer classes and training focused on manufacturing and industry, such as computer-assisted drafting and design, as well as general academics, like business writing classes, Goshorn said.

“For the most part, it’s really what the industrial businesses in the area need. Soft skills will be a large component,” he said. “We will also have facilities to offer to anyone needing to do training. Say a company is introducing a new software package or even a piece of equipment. Instead of figuring out how to send 30 people to Austin to get this training, they can bring in the trainer and have the facilities and space they need.

“We are geared up and ready to go at both locations. It’s very exciting; we’ve made some impressive improvements.”

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Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.