The building will consist of a three-story section, housing Department of Mathematics and general use classrooms, computer classrooms and faculty offices, and a two-story section housing 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.
"A very key part of the future of this state is in the Valley and here at UT Pan American," said Dr. Edwin R. Sharpe, The University of Texas System’s executive vice chancellor for academic affairs and the keynote speaker at the groundbreaking ceremonies.
"As we move into the next millennium and century, a case could be made that it will be the century for UT Pan American," Sharpe said. "This (building) is tangible evidence of the respect and admiration we (UT System) have for this institution and tangible evidence of our commitment to your success."
State Rep. Juan Hinojosa, an alumnus of the university, said he is impressed with the growth of UTPA.
"I’m very proud of it. We’ve worked very hard (for) the growth of this university," Hinojosa said. "Pan American is a key institution for the continuing growth in education, in economics and in culture for us here in South Texas. It produces our leaders."
The building will be funded through tuition revenue bonds approved by the 75th Texas Legislature. Dr. Miguel A. Nevárez, president of UTPA, praised the Valley delegation of state legislators for their efforts on behalf of the university.
"Our Valley delegation has not only been instrumental but has also been inspirational in helping us through the years, and we want to thank them," Nevárez said.
"One of our main concerns, as we have expanded over the years, is that our facilities have not kept pace with our enrollment. But now in 1999 we are well on our way to finally offering our students and our faculty what they so very much deserve, which is an excellent learning and research environment to help them reach their individual intellectual goals," Nevárez said.
Math student Anabel Castañeda, president of the Laplacian Society of Mathematics, said she is pleased by the campus expansion.
"Events such as this (groundbreaking) show how determined UT Pan American is at providing a greater learning environment for its students," she said. "Seeing our campus grow also helps me realize just how fortunate I am that my university has leaders who care for their students and their quality of education."
Paul Pontius, assistant professor of mathematics, said the new building will serve many needs.
"For years the Department of Mathematics has been spread over the campus," Pontius said. "The new and modern facilities which we begin here today will at last enable the department to come together."
He said the new building will improve communications between faculty members in his department, provide a central location for math students to come together and to interact with their teachers, provide an opportunity to utilize more technology in the classroom and further the development of new approaches to teaching.
Leota Hull, director of UTPA’s Computer Center, said the new building will also bring together Computer Center staff members located throughout campus.
"We feel frankly honored at this very tangible expression of confidence in the department," she said. "We’ll strive to do our best with this new building to return value for that investment.
"This will be a facility that will enable the university to take advantage of technology, to engage in electronic commerce and to participate in the new electronic business environment, which is going to be so important to organizations everywhere in the years to come," Hull said.
The General Classroom/Computer Center Building is scheduled for completion by spring 2001. The building has been designed by Charles Croslin and Associates Inc. of Austin and will be constructed by SpawGlass Contractors Inc. of Selma, Texas.