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American Indian Student Center grand opening on NMSU campus Oct. 9

A new American Indian Student Center on the New Mexico State University campus will open Oct. 9 with the goal of assisting those students make the cultural and social transition between life in their tribal communities and life at college.



The American Indian Student Center will house the American Indian Program and includes space for the program's offices, a meditation room, a kitchen, two multipurpose rooms, gallery areas and a student commons. The center's grand opening is Oct. 9. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Located by Corbett Center Student Union and Chamisa Village student housing, the 7,451 square-foot American Indian Student Center is set for an Oct. 9 grand opening. It will house the American Indian Program and will provide a home away from home for American Indian students, as well as serve as a venue for cultural sharing with the NMSU and Las Cruces communities.

Nation, Pueblo and Tribal leaders and elders, state elected officials (including several local legislators), NMSU Regents, university President Barbara Couture, dignitaries, faculty, staff, students and alumni and community leaders are slated to attend the grand opening event, held in junction with both the annual Rio Grande Rivalry football game between NMSU and the University of New Mexico and the culmination of Tough Enough to Wear Pink Week.

From 10 to 11 a.m. the grand opening formal program will take place, followed by tours of the center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The American Indian Program also will sponsor a tailgating event prior to the NMSU-UNM football game, from 3-5:30 p.m. on the grassy area south of the Educational Services Center.

In many American Indian cultures, the circle is a prevalent element, representing continuity and life. The center was built in a circular shape in observance of this cultural aspect and includes space for the program's offices, a meditation room, a kitchen and two multipurpose rooms. Gallery areas will hold pieces of traditional art, while a student commons will provide a respite for students.

Because of the center's efficient energy use, NMSU also aims for the building to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

More than 600 American Indian students are enrolled at NMSU's Las Cruces campus. The center's purpose is to enhance the recruitment, retention and graduation rates of these students by helping their overall experience.

"We hope the presence of the center will help achieve our goal of increasing the number of American Indian students receiving degrees from NMSU," said Justin McHorse, director of the American Indian Program.

For more information about the center and the American Indian Program, contact McHorse at 575-646-4207.