The need for more classroom space and improved technology is why the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus will be asking for $5 million in the upcoming general obligation bond election.
If passed by the voters in Valencia County and northern Socorro County on April 9, the bond will be used to add a 20,000-square-foot classroom building to the campus. The bond will also help expand the student services complex.
“We have the second highest enrollment in the history of the institution this semester with 1,600 students,” said Dr. Alice Letteney, UNM-VC executive director. “We look at it as an investment in the future. We want to look to the future of our county, and, obviously, the future is in education.”
Letteney explained the additional classroom space is just a portion of what is planned for the new building. With about 85 students in the general science program, the campus is hoping the building will house several laboratories, including a cadaver lab.
“Most of these students are pre-health science students who are going to go into nursing or physical therapy,” Letteney said. “Normally, these courses should be offered in something with a lab setting. We can’t do the anatomy lab because we don’t have a cadaver room.”
If voters do vote to pass the bond, the new building will be built directly west of the current academic building. An additional parking lot is also planned to be built west of the Learning Resource Center.
Letteney also said the new building will provide higher levels of technology for the faculty and the students. Along with the general classroom space, which will be housed in the new building, several computer labs will also be available for instructional use.
“Our students need access to the best education and the best facilities right here,” said Reinaldo Garcia, dean of instruction. “We are completely maxed out when it comes to using our existing computer labs.
“We have been training faculty to use the equipment, and they are eager beavers. They want to go out there, and they want to use it.”
In the past few years, the staff has grown to the point where there isn’t enough space in the student services center for everyone to work, Letteney said.
The campus’ master plan calls for a 5,000-square-foot addition to the building.
“This will give us an opportunity to redesign the whole building, where I’m hoping student services can move to the front of the building and administration and the business offices could move to the back,” Letteney explained.
“We (administration) don’t need to be in the front,” she said. “They’re (student services) the ones who are most contacted by the students. ”
Andrew Sanchez, associate director of business operations, said the campus is also in need of renovations. Along with some general renewal and replacements, Sanchez said, they want to do some Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades, re-do sidewalks and repave the parking lot.
Sanchez said, if all goes well, the bonds will be sold this summer and an architect will be hired in the fall.
“It will probably go out to construction in late 2003, and it would take a year and a half to complete,” Sanchez said. “We think it will be complete in late 2004 or in the spring of 2005.”
Garcia said, with a new building and improved technology, both faculty and the students will profit.
“We need more space to teach the courses the way we want to teach them,” he said. “This is buying into the future.”
Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.