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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center

O'Donnell Hall to remain closed into spring semester

O'Donnell Hall, the College of Education building at New Mexico State University, will remain closed for at least part, if not all, of the spring semester because fire and smoke damage is more severe than originally thought, according to Vice President for Facilities Ben Woods.

"We're going to move as quickly as we can to get the building reopened, but our first priority must be safety," Woods said.

A team of academic and facilities administrators is developing a plan to provide space after the winter break for classes and offices as well as for college programs such as Headstart, the NMSU Preschool, the Bilingual Preschool, and other functions, Woods said.

Initially, administrators hoped that the building could be at least partially recovered by Jan. 4 when the university reopens, he said. However, surveys of the soot-covered building this week have uncovered more extensive damage, particularly to mechanical systems, near where the fire started.

The specific cause of the fire has not yet been reported by the state fire marshall, but the fire has been determined to be accidental, Woods said.

The efforts of the recovery team are threefold: storage and cleaning of building contents including computers; reassignment of classes and other functions to other space on campus; and repair of the building.

"We're looking for any space on campus that might work temporarily for classes or for faculty and administrative offices," Woods said. Trailers and modular buildings also may be used.

"With a fire like this, it's impossible in the beginning of an investigation to know for certain what recovery will require," Woods said. "But we have a well-organized team in place and the spirit of cooperation is exceptional."