The University of Texas-Pan American Rehabilitative Services Annex will open its doors to the University community and the general public during a grand opening/ribbon cutting Friday, August 29 at 10:30 a.m.
The annex, located next to the old Lamar Elementary School, houses two projects supported by the UTPA Department of Rehabilitation - Project Enhance and the Rehabilitation Research Initiative (RRI).
Tours will be available from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 3-5 p.m. The public will have the opportunity to tour the new facility and see what both projects are doing to improve learning for UTPA students, the community and other education institutions.
Project Enhance is a three-year grant program funded by the United States Department of Education. The project's main goal is to work with disability support offices on university and college campuses across the country to ensure that no student is left behind as they pursue their postsecondary education.
"The purpose of the grant is to provide, at a national level, technical assistance and professional development for faculty and administrators in colleges and universities to equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to teach students with disabilities," said Sylvia Jackson, project coordinator.
Housed at the new annex is a laboratory for Project Enhance with the latest technological equipment available for people with disabilities including closed caption televisions, vision technology machines, donated by Vision Technology, digital voice recorders, special computer mice and keyboards.
Hector Requeñez, lab coordinator, said the equipment is also available to faculty and staff at UT Pan American.
"We have almost $50,000 worth of equipment in this lab," he said. "It is a great way for professors to teach their courses, and students receive hands-on experience as well."
The RRI is a project funded by the Department of Education and helps conduct research on ways to better service Hispanics and other minorities with disabilities.
"Our goal is to improve the delivery of services by public rehabilitation programs for people with disabilities," said Tom Shefcik, UTPA associate professor and co-author of the grant. "The research focuses on knowing what barriers there are for minorities, coming up with a solution and sharing information with others."
Shefcik said this is the first research grant funded in the Department of Rehabilitation, and is a step forward in making the University a research institution.
Expected to attend the ribbon cutting is Dr. Rodolfo Arévalo, UTPA provost/vice president for Academic Affairs and Dr. William McIntyre, dean for the College of Health Sciences and Human Services.
For more information on both projects, contact Project Enhance at 956/292-7408 and RRI at 956/316-7036.