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William B. Conroy Honors Center dedicated

New Mexico State University's 93-year-old YMCA building came back to life Friday, March 22, when it was dedicated as the William B. Conroy Honors Center.



New Mexico State University President Emeritus William B. Conroy congratulates the Honors Program on its commitment to excellence at the dedication ceremony for the university's renovated YMCA building, now the William B. Conroy Honors Center. (New Mexi..

"This is a dream come true for the Honors Program," said William Eamon, director of the program. "The renovation of this building as an Honors Center signifies the high value the university places on excellence."

The cornerstone for the Henry C. Trost-designed building was laid Jan. 7, 1907, by the Young Men's Christian Association and construction was completed April 3, 1909. The building has housed many university departments in the last century, but it had stood vacant since 1982.

"The Honors Program wanted Trost's design to shine as it once did," Eamon said.

The dedication ceremony included remarks by President Emeritus Conroy and University President G. Jay Gogue.

"This is a great day in the life of New Mexico State University and there is no one more deserving than Bill Conroy," Gogue said. "Everything we've done in the past is an introduction to what we can do in the future."

"It is one of the greatest thrills on my life to have my name on this historic building at this university which will always be so close to my heart," Conroy said.

Conroy came to the university as executive vice president in 1985 and served in that position until 1997. During 1994 and 1995 he also served as interim president and in May 1997 he became the 19th president of the university. Conroy, who retired in 2000, was a strong supporter of the Honors Program including the renovation of the historic building, Eamon said. In December 1999, the university's Board of Regents unanimously voted to name the Honors Center for Conroy.

The honors center renovation cost $1.8 million. The building now has 9,468 square feet and is accessible to people with disabilities. The center includes offices, a commons area, seminar rooms and an art exhibit area.

Eamon said he likes the idea that the honors center is in the oldest academic building on campus. He said the Honors Program is the cornerstone of undergraduate academics and the building is the cornerstone of campus.

In addition to providing a home for the honors program, which had its classes scattered across campus, the building also will be used for seminars and lectures open to the community, Eamon said.

Trost, a noted Southwestern architect, designed the building in a style he called "Spanish Renaissance." It was the first in a campus plan that called for buildings located around a horseshoe. The building is located on the northwest corner of the Horseshoe. As the first Trost-designed building on the campus, its basic design became the stylistic model for Trost's later campus buildings.

The building was placed on the State of New Mexico Cultural Properties register in 1983 and on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. The Dona Ana County Historical Society selected the building for its 1997 "Building Most Worthy of Preservation" award.

The Honors Program provides undergraduate students with opportunities to broaden their academic experience, Eamon said. In small classes taught by master teachers, honors students engage in lively discussion and collaborative investigation of interdisciplinary topics and themes, he said. About 900 students enroll in honors courses each year. The program oversees Crimson Scholars and sponsors the University Fellowships Office and the University Speakers Series.

Photo is available at http://ucommphoto.nmsu.edu/newsphoto/conroy_dedication.jpg.
CUTLINE: New Mexico State University President Emeritus William B. Conroy congratulates the Honors Program on its commitment to excellence at the dedication ceremony for the university's renovated YMCA building, now the William B. Conroy Honors Center. (New Mexico State University photo by Darren Phillips)

Julie M. Hughes
March 25, 2002