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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Implementation of NMSU Master Plan requires look to future, respect for past

New Mexico State University is moving ahead on its recently adopted Master Plan, with campus leaders making a commitment to ensure all parties benefit from the planned development of the campus. Two of the plan's key elements, the city center and the adjoining university hotel, are unfolding and the university is taking steps to address the needs of the historic College of Agriculture and Home Economics.

Among the first projects to be developed are the Las Cruces city center, the university hotel and the university art complex.

"Located along University Avenue, these three projects will begin the transformation of the campus edge," said Ben Woods, senior vice president for Planning, Physical Resources and University Relations at NMSU. "More important however, will be the opportunities these projects create for the university, our students and our community."

Each of these projects comes from a common beginning: the need to focus on finding creative solutions built on public-private partnerships. The location of the city center on the NMSU campus resolved a long dispute concerning its location in the community. At the same time, it offered the university a means to further the growth of the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management (HRTM) while creating sorely needed conference and meeting capabilities. The presence of the city center further enabled the development of the university hotel.

"This privately financed and owned hotel will afford our HRTM program the resources necessary to climb even higher among the top HRTM programs in the nation," Woods said. "These projects also benefit the Las Cruces community by stimulating economic expansion and enriching our resources."

The hotel and city center are currently under design with construction anticipated to begin during the third quarter of 2008.

"The proposed university art complex is another example of how we seek synergy and success through our planning effort," Woods said. "The combined presence of the city center, hotel and art complex with its associated performance space are perfect complements to each other and, when combined, form the basis for the revitalization of the University Avenue corridor. We are fortunate that the project is receiving outstanding support from both Gov. Richardson and the legislature during the current session."

NMSU will seek the involvement of private benefactors to achieve the full funding of $37.5 million needed for Phase 1. The end product is expected to fundamentally transform the university's commitment and capacity for music, theater, art, dance and creative media programs.

"We realize that these exciting opportunities mean changes to some and want to explain our plans to address their needs," Woods said. "Working with the College of Agriculture and Home Economics, we are identifying the long-term requirements of their various departments. Our question is simple. What do the departments need to become even stronger?"

Agronomy and horticulture scientists have requested sites for such things as pecan research, a small farms initiative and turf research. Efforts are already moving forward on each of these items - none of which could be accomplished within the confines and uses of the lands currently available. Animal and range scientists requested substantial increases in acreage for the animal science research effort. Again, the long-term requirements far exceed the available land on the west end of the campus.

"Thus new resources are needed regardless of the historic land uses and we are working toward identifying new sites with ample space to achieve their goals," Woods said.

Lowell Catlett, dean of the College of Agriculture and Home Economics, said the university has been extremely supportive when the college has identified a need. Livestock is essential to the teaching and research efforts of the college, and "the Master Plan calls for animals to stay on campus," Catlett said.

Part of the planning process is to identify both short- and long-term needs. Catlett said a short-term need for state-of-the-art facilities on campus for animals has been identified, and the long-term vision is for much larger, additional acreage for animal projects in the future.

"We've been blessed with an administration and Board of Regents who help when we identify our needs," Catlett said.

Woods pointed out that the master plan establishes a commitment to protect and improve the availability of animal teaching and research facilities on the campus. The proposed on-campus teaching and research facilities will replace current antiquated and inadequate animal facilities.

"One major benefit that is already occurring for the College of Agriculture and Home Economics is that the planning effort has focused renewed attention on its strategic needs and moved us beyond talk to action in a number of these areas," Woods said. "Thus the commitment to improve the lot of all continues, not from public pressure, but rather from a profound belief in the significant benefits that each and every academic program is capable of bringing to the people of our state and region."