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Vision 2020: USW eyes big expansion

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The University of the Southwest is looking to get a lot bigger.

Quint Thurman, president of the University of the Southwest announced an expansion of facilities called Vision 20/20 at his address to the university community last week. By the time all the plans come to fruition, the expansion is expected to cost more than $45 million.

Funding for the expansion will come from donations from alumni, the general public, foundations, businesses and individuals who are inspired to give to the private university whose mission is not only to provide education but also to teach students the value of servant leadership in the communities where they live. The university is forbidden by its charter to incur debt and operates on a pay-as-you-go basis.

In his speech, Thurman emphasized the progress the university has made during the past three years. One of the accomplishments of which he and the staff are proudest of is “offer(ing) an undergraduate degree that delivers the highest net value among any 4-year institution of higher education in the state of New Mexico, exceeding UNM and New Mexico State by a considerable amount and Eastern by nearly $100,000…. But as pleased as I am in the efforts of our faculty, coaches, staff and Board of Trustees, I am especially excited about the vision for the future.”

Included in the plans for expansion are a chapel that will seat around 600, a new 94-bed dormitory, a welcome center, a learning enhancement center, a baseball/softball complex, an athletic complex, an indoor multipurpose practice building, and a fitness center as well as several pedestrian plazas and a new, electronic sign at the entrance of the campus.

William Weidner, vice president for institutional development and director of intercollegiate athletics, provided a breakdown of projects and its estimated cost using the value of current dollars.

Both Thurman and Weidner said they believe building the new residence hall, at a cost of $8 million, is one of the first priorities. However, both men said that the order in which the facilities expand depends on how donors designate their giving.

They also expressed enthusiasm for a new $5 million chapel, which when it is built, will be a focal point for nearby travelers.

“There will be a lighted cross at the front of the building and people will be able to see it clearly from the (Lovington) highway,” Thurman said.

However, designated gifts will control which projects are undertaken first, both Thurman and Weidner said.

“If someone feels led to donate (money to) the whole baseball and softball field, we will certainly do that as the money is available,” Thurman said.

Weidner said the baseball field, located on the southeast side of the campus, will be improved by the addition of a grandstand and a new press box at a cost of $500,000. The addition of a softball field, with its own seating, a building for concessions and restrooms, will cost about $2 million.

The Mustang Sports Complex, will include an intercollegiate track and field facility, will have room for soccer and lacrosse games. It will include 12 tennis courts and a concession building and restrooms and new parking. Total cost of the complex is estimated at more than $4.5 million.

A proposed Athletic Center will house eight team locker rooms, 22 offices for athletic coaches and other personnel at a cost of about $4 million.

Weidner said an indoor multipurpose practice facility will contain 19,600 square feet. The 40-yard surface will be covered with artificial turf. Glass walls on two sides of the building will provide views of other athletic facilities in the area. Cost of this facility will be about $8 million.

The existing Mabee Fitness Center will receive a $1,650,000 renovation and expansion that will include state-of-the-art weight rooms and exercise equipment as well as an elevator to the second floor.

The Learning Enhancement Center, which will include new classrooms to accommodate hoped for increases in face-to-face enrollment, will also include faculty offices, laboratories, career development facilities, and a counseling center at a cost of $5 million.

The Mustang Dining Wing, an expansion of the existing Daniels Student Center, will cost $1.75 million.

Cost of the new sign at the entrance to the campus is estimated to be $750,000.

Weidner said the estimated cost of the entire project is $45,800,000.

The on-campus population of students at USW is around

430. Thurman understands the price tag for Vision 20/20 is steep, but believes student enrollment will stay on the rise.

“We are experiencing growth,” he said. “Last year in the the fall we had students enrolled for 10,839 credit hours. This fall, we’ve got students enrolled in 11,066 credit hours. We want to continue to grow and to offer the best education possible for our students.”

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