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NMSU College of Health, Social Work plans building addition to keep pace with growth

LAS CRUCES - A substantial growth in enrollment in New Mexico State University's College of Health and Social Services has led to a need for more space for people and programs.

A $2 million, two-story addition to the College of Health and Social Science building was approved by NMSU's Board of Regents at its Jan. 28 meeting. The building will include a 130-seat lecture hall, offices, conference rooms and seminar room. (NMSU architect's rendering)

To help meet the need, the NMSU Board of Regents approved the construction of a $2 million, two-story addition to the CHSS building during a Jan. 28 meeting held in Santa Fe during Las Cruces Day at the Legislature.

Michael Rickenbaker, NMSU's architect and director of facilities planning and construction, told the Regents the 6,400-square-foot building was much needed to support the college's growing programs. Dean Jeffrey Brandon concurred that his programs have grown substantially.

"We've doubled our enrollment during the last seven years. We are offering majors in areas that have received a lot of publicity about the career opportunities - especially in nursing. Our graduates have a lot of flexibility as to what they do with their degree," Brandon said, noting that 1,600 students have declared majors in the college.

"This is an interesting and exciting addition," Rickenbaker said. "As we focus on the International Mall, this building will be consistent with the architecture in that area."

He added that funding for the project will be from the 2007 general obligation bond.

The addition, which is being designed by The Design Group of Albuquerque, will house a 130-seat lecture hall on the ground floor.

"Presently, we do not have a place where our clinical groups can merge for lectures," Brandon said. "The addition provides us with this much needed space."

On the second floor there will be five offices, a 20-seat seminar room and a conference room.

Brandon said the Southwest Institute for Health Disparities Research will be housed on the second floor of the new space.

"The endowed chair for health disparities, which has been funded by Stan Fulton, will direct the research into disparities in health status observed among various ethnic groups, elderly and the disabled. We are currently conducting a national search for the person to fill the Stan Fulton Endowed Chair," Brandon said.

Located at the south end of the current building, the addition will be connected to the southeast corner of the present facility by a covered, second-story walkway.

In addition to the building, the construction project will include an alternate for better defined outdoor courtyards between the new facility and existing Clara Belle Williams Hall and Guthrie Hall.

"The outdoor courtyard will be a meeting space for students to gather before classes," said Rickenbaker. "It also will include an alternate for the Student Memorial, which is being created by ASNMSU (the Associated Students at New Mexico State University). The anticipated total cost of the memorial will be $250,000, of which $50,000 has currently been raised."

During the Regents' meeting, Rickenbaker said the memorial would only be designed and constructed as actual funds in hand allowed, but Regent Robert Gallagher said he didn't want the memorial to "fall through the cracks" if the total funds were not raised.

"This is an extremely important part of this project and I want us to be sure it is completed," Gallagher said.

Work on the new building will begin in the late spring or early summer with groundbreaking scheduled for sometime in late spring, Brandon said.