The new 82,000-square-foot Education Complex at The University of Texas-Pan American is a facility that celebrates South Texas culture and the honor UTPA has of being ranked first in the nation in the number of bilingual education graduates and second in the number of teacher graduates in the state.
UTPA administrators held a dedication ceremony Oct. 5 to showcase its latest state-of-the-art building to students, staff, faculty, state legislators and representatives of The University of Texas System, who attended the event.
Dr. Pedro Reyes, associate vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, The University of Texas System, who attended the dedication brought greetings and congratulations from the UT System Board of Regents and Chancellor Mark G. Yudof on the important milestone in UTPA history.
"The System is very proud of the fact that UTPA is a major producer of teachers in the region and the state. As you very well know teachers are the heart and soul of many communities," Reyes said. "This (building) is where the teacher will get the latest technology and all the best knowledge in the field and this is where they will get the best preparation in the country."
A unique feature of the building celebrates South Texas culture with glass etchings of Mexican "dichos" or wise sayings on the elevator. The entrance features three cubes at the top and the bottom of the building design representing the English and Spanish languages and the middle cube representing a combination of those languages. The tradition of higher education is also honored with lanterns leading to the building and lighting a path to professional opportunity.
The three-story building houses classrooms, labs, lecture halls, research centers and instructional therapy facilities. In addition, all the classrooms will be equipped with Internet access and videoconferencing capabilities for distance learning opportunities.
Dr. Velma Menchaca, College of Education interim dean, said a major component of the building is the 8,000-square-foot clinic located on the first floor. Research students from the Departments of Educational Psychology and Psychology are expected to utilize the clinic. Menchaca said a goal of the clinic is to eventually address the needs of public schools and the community by developing the infrastructure to establish itself as a (certified) clinic.
In addition, the Education Complex will house the Education Office of Student Services, which will provide students with the support and advisement needed to get in the teacher preparation program. The third floor of the building will serve as the center for research activities where the Center for Applied Research in Education (CARE) will be located. Also, the third floor will provide space for doctoral programs in the college as well as a display area titled "The Borderlands" where students' works, oral histories and artifacts from the area will be showcased.
The $18.2 million building was completed in August 2005 and classes were in session in the new facility during the fall semester. The complex was built adjacent to the original 45,000-square-foot College of Education building, which was renovated and completed in December 2004, to create a courtyard linking the old to the new.
The building was designed by Kell Munoz Architects of San Antonio and built by Skanska USA Building from Temple, Texas.
Also attending the dedication ceremony was Dr. Miguel A. Nevárez, former UTPA president; Dr. Hilda Medrano, former UTPA College of Education dean; State Representatives Aaron Peña (D-Edinburg) and Armando "Mando" Martinez (D-Weslaco).