EDINBURG - The sounds of heavy machinery can be heard throughout The University of Texas-Pan American campus, marking progress on two buildings that will cater to student needs.
The University broke ground in May on the $7 million Student Union and in September on the new $17.2 million General Classroom/Computer Center building.
"We're running just about on schedule," said Marvin Boland, director of facilities planning and construction at UTPA. "Everything is going as well as could be expected."
According to Boland, the Student Union is scheduled for completion by June with the General Classroom building opening in March or April of next year.
"Some of us - administrators, staff, and student leaders - have been working on getting a Student Union for this campus for seven years, and we can hardly contain our excitement as we watch the dream become a reality," said Elvira Davis, dean of students at UTPA. "The Union is not just a building; it's a concept. Student development and services to students will be the top priority. We're hoping it will make campus life better than ever before for the University community."
According to Davis, the Student Union will be a gathering place where students can meet and socialize with other students and with faculty and staff.
"It's definitely going to make a difference," Davis said.
The 44,000-square-foot Student Union will house a variety of student activities, including a 500-seat theater for live performances and first-run movies, a commons area, convenience store, food court with inside and outside dining areas, game room, study areas, multipurpose meeting and study session rooms, and TV lounge. The plans also include space for offices to support student activities.
The Student Union will be a freestanding building on the south side of campus located inside the covered walkway between the University Ballroom and the Chapel of the Lord's Prayer. The main entrance will face north toward the center of campus and the grassy area known as the "Quad."
The Student Union is funded from student fee reserves, designated tuition and a Student Union fee, which students approved in a campus election in March 1997. The fee - $30 per student, per regular semester or $15 per student, for each summer term - is expected to raise more than $700,000 a year, according to projections based on current enrollment. The fee will not be collected until the Student Union is open.
Architects for the project are Marmon Mok of San Antonio, and the contractor is Wilson Construction of McAllen.
The new General Classroom/Computer Center building will feature a three-story section housing the Department of Mathematics, general use classrooms, computer classrooms and faculty offices.
A two-story section will house the University's administrative computing facility. All classrooms in the 108,000-square-foot building will include data connections, and several classrooms will have distance learning capabilities.
According to James Langabeer, vice president for business affairs at UTPA, the major purpose of the General Classroom/Computer Center building is to consolidate the Department of Mathematics - which is currently scattered throughout the campus.
The building will be funded through tuition revenue bonds approved by the 75 th Texas Legislature.
The General Classroom/Computer Center building is designed by Charles Croslin and Associates Inc. of Austin and is being constructed by SpawGlass Contractors Inc. of Selma, Texas.