by Valerie Kimble
SOCORRO, N.M., Feb. 12, 2006 – How’s this for a mathematical function: The quality of life for New Mexico Tech students is about to improve exponentially, from food service to student services.
Years in the planning, and months in the making, the three-story Joseph A. Fidel Student Services Center will open its doors later this spring, with an official dedication coinciding with commencement services on May 13.
“I am very excited to have a new building where our students can make one stop and take care of almost all of their student needs,” said Dr. Ricardo Maestas, Vice President for Student and University Relations.
“The new Fidel Student Center will be the crown jewel of the campus,”said Maestas. “It is an absolutely beautiful building, and I know all of the staff are very excited and eager to move into the Fidel Student Center.”
The 92,000-square-foot complex will house all university functions that relate to student needs, such as Admission, Registrar, Financial Aid, Auxiliary Services, Residential Life, the Book Store, Food Services, Campus Post Office, Career Services, International and Exchange Programs, the Student Health Center, Counseling and Disability Services, the Advising Resource Center, Advancement, student financial accounts, and cashier.
A spacious, glass-lined atrium rises to a height of 57 feet, offering beautiful views of the campus, and a first-floor lined with windows replaces the university’s aging dining room. Modern kitchen features include walk-in refrigeration and freezer units and large storage areas to improve food storage capabilities.
Oh, but that’s just the beginning.
Campus diners will experience “a whole new concept for Tech”: a food court with grill, pasta station, pizza station, wok station, salad bar, pastry bar, and comfort food stations, according to Louise Chamberlin, Auxiliary Services director for New Mexico Tech.
Commuter students and cash customers will make their selections and then exit into a retail dining area, she said.
Meanwhile, students on an all-you-can-eat board plan will exit into into the dining room on the opposite side of the food court Chamberlin said students on this plan need only swipe their card once to enjoy its full privileges.
The dining areas will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., “and students can eat at any time within that 12-hour period, keeping in mind that lunch items won’t be available until around lunch time, and so on,” she said.
As planned, a coffee shop will serve Starbucks coffee and assorted baked goods, as well as personal-sized pizzas, calzones and similar fare.
“In addition, grab-and-go items, such as salads and sandwiches, will be available at both the food court and the coffee shop,” Chamberlin said.
Other building amenities include a computer pod, a small student lounge/television room, scattered seating areas throughout the hallways, a large game room, and outside patios.
Still to be completed is a large shell space on the third floor designed as a ballroom that can be separated into three smaller rooms with a total dining seating capacity of 300.
Total cost of the new center exceeds $18 million, including four years of legislative funding and institutional reserves, according to Lonnie Marquez, Senior Associate Vice President for Administration and Finance. Marquez added that New Mexico Tech is requesting an additional legislative funds to complete the third floor.
Offices relocating to the new Student Services Center will make their move over the week of spring break in mid-March. The May dedication will be followed with a grand opening two weeks into the Fall 2006 semester.
“The grand opening will be one huge bash with lots of fun and prizes,” said Chamberlin. “Watch for the announcement.”