After more than five years of planning, The University of Texas-Pan American will begin construction of a new education complex.
During a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday, Nov. 5, area legislators joined representatives from The University of Texas System, UTPA administrators, faculty, staff, students and the community to break ground on the $22 million project.
"We have repeatedly stated that one of our overarching goals is to be a state leader in the preparation and production of public school teachers," said UTPA President Dr. Miguel A. Nevárez. "As we turn the shovels in the ground, we are symbolically beginning a two phase project that will result in a state-of-the-art teaching facility."
The first phase of the project involves the renovation of the old education building, which will be completed by fall 2004. The second phase includes the construction of a 82,000 square-foot facility.
Construction of the new facility will be completed by fall 2005 and will connect to the classroom section of the existing education building. Once completed, the entire education complex will be three times its original size and will house innovative classrooms, labs, bilingual and dual language research centers and instructional therapy facilities.
"It seems like only yesterday that I showed Representative (Roberto) Gutierrez our desperate need for a new facility. I showed him how we had converted closets into offices, storage rooms into classrooms and created study areas under stairways," said Dr. Hilda Medrano, dean for the College of Education. "All that will change with our new building because we have designed a facility with the future in mind."
Robert A. Estrada, member of the UT System Board of Regents and special guest speaker at the ceremony, said the construction of the new facility reflected the University's support of education in South Texas.
"The UT System appreciates and recognizes the tremendous work being done here at UT Pan American under the leadership of Dr. Miguel Nevárez," he said. "We are very proud and optimistic about the future of this University and especially the College of Education."
Also attending the event were Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, state senator; Aaron Peña, state representative; John de la Garza, vice chancellor for Community Relations for the UT System; architect representatives from Kell Muñoz and representatives from BFW Construction Company, the general contractor for the new facility.