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NMSU marks opening of state-of-the-art learning center for undergrads

Aggie alums Kent and Maryce Jacobs were on hand for the 1962 dedication of New Mexico State University?s Jacobs Hall ? named for their father, Carl F. Jacobs, who started the NMSU music department in 1932 ? and they were back on campus Thursday to celebrate the transformation of that structure and its neighbor, Hardman Hall, into a new state-of-the art center for undergraduate students.


Line of people cut ribbon with scissors
New Mexico State University President Garrey Carruthers and Provost Dan Howard join members of the Hardman and Jacobs families in a special ribbon-cutting ceremony at the site of the new Hardman and Jacobs Undergraduate Learning Center. From left to right are Audrey Hardman-Hartley, granddaughter of Hardman Hall namesake Marion Hardman; Associated Students of NMSU President Dustin Chavez; NMSU Board of Regents Chair Mike Cheney; Carruthers; Howard; Maryce Jacobs, daughter of Jacobs Hall namesake Carl F. Jacobs; and her brother, Kent Jacobs. (Photo by Darren Phillips)

In place of the two buildings in the center of NMSU?s Las Cruces campus stands the newly renovated Hardman and Jacobs Undergraduate Learning Center, which houses classrooms outfitted with the latest learning technologies and high-speed Wi-Fi, and comfortable areas where students can wait for classes, study or work on projects.

Audrey Hardman-Hartley, granddaughter of Hardman Hall?s namesake, retired English professor and dean of women Marion Hardman, also attended Thursday?s ribbon-cutting ceremony with her husband, NMSU Professor John Hartley, and daughter, Marion Blair Hartley, a sophomore at NMSU who?s named for her great-grandmother.

?My grandmother and Mrs. Jacobs were very good friends, so to pull these two buildings together now, and with such creativity, it?s just amazing,? Hardman-Hartley said. ?I?m so delighted that the legacy of Hardman and Jacobs lives on and continues to serve the undergraduate students here at New Mexico State University.?

NMSU President Garrey Carruthers joked that the original Hardman Hall, a portion of which was incorporated into the new design, boasted ?the darkest lecture halls in the free world,? and touted the completely transformed building as a modern and beautiful addition to the heart of campus that will help NMSU attract and retain excellent undergraduate students.

The total project cost was $22.25 million, funded with $19 million from the 2012 General Obligation Bonds approved by New Mexico taxpayers, and $3.25 million from a 2013 Severance Tax Bond appropriation from the New Mexico Legislature.

In addition to the nearly 48,000-square-foot Hardman and Jacobs Undergraduate Learning Center, the total appropriation included improvements to the surrounding infrastructure, exterior site work, landscaping and one percent for art.

Artwork that encircled the exterior of Jacobs Hall, painted by NMSU art professor and renowned muralist Ken Barrick, was preserved through fine photography, and Carruthers said a display of the work is planned once construction on the southern portion of the center is complete.

Construction around the building will continue through the fall, especially in the area to the east of the building, which will include the first phase of a major new campus green space.

The Jacobs siblings noted that NMSU has changed in many ways since they were students.

?When Kent and I were undergraduates, NMSU was primarily an undergraduate campus,? Maryce Jacobs said. ?It?s really expanded since then, and I think having an advanced learning center like this will encourage more undergraduate students to go on to graduate work right here.?

?This is a real step forward for NMSU,? Kent Jacobs added.

Hardman and Jacobs Undergraduate Learning Center houses six classrooms of various sizes that are centrally scheduled and used for many of the university?s core curriculum classes and larger classes. Most undergraduates will take at least some courses in the undergraduate learning center during their student careers.

The center also houses the Student Success Center, which includes TRiO Student Support Services and TRiO Upward Bound, and Information & Communications Technology, which includes a Help Desk, computer labs, a drop-in computer center, computer rentals and computer offices and workshops.