University Sets Groundbreaking for New Center for Fine & Performing Arts

"A place to lift hearts and minds and give art, artists and audiences a remarkable regional forum for learning, performance and artistic fulfillment."

That's how Texas A&M International University president Charles Jennett describes the University's new Center for the Fine and Performing Arts which will be launched with a special groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 10:30 a.m.

"The University will soon be the community's and region's new home for the fine and performing arts with this remarkable new facility," Dr. Jennett explained.

"Not only will it serve to house our growing arts program here at the University, but it will also afford Laredo and the region at large important new artistic and cultural experiences," Jennett said.

The Center for Fine and Performing Arts is part of the University's $39.5 million Phase III Expansion now underway. The $18 million facility will boast over 88,000 square feet and will include rehearsal and performance spaces, classrooms, exhibit areas and a music hall of over 517 seats.

Fittingly, the Groundbreaking Ceremony will feature performances by Fine Arts students and faculty.

Dr. Jerry Thompson, Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, said the new facility will be a fitting home for the development of the University's fine arts programming.

"This is truly going to be a facility in keeping with our developing programs that will help us to realize our vision for the fine and performing arts here. Our research indicates that Laredo and the University's growing regional service area includes large number of students interested in exploring a fine arts major or courses here. I envision a program that will be the envy of South Texas colleges and universities and that will afford students and community members alike with great opportunities to see art and to enjoy artistic performances," Dr. Thompson said.

Thompson noted that the University's Mariachi International, Ballet Folklorico, Dance Performance Troupe, Classical Spanish Ballet and the growing number of fine arts majors are among the many groups that are looking forward to the completion of the Center.

"It will be most rewarding to see these students able to excel in their art forms through this comprehensive facility," he explained, "they will be able to share their skills with a local and regional audience that will be indirect beneficiaries of their education here."

Joe Garcia, vice president for Finance and Administration, said the building will be among the most complicated and impressive yet for the 300-acre campus.

"The construction should begin sometime in January 2001. Estimated construction time is forecast for a 20-month completion with the building being ready for use by students by late fall 2002," Garcia said.

Also included in the Phase III expansion are the Center for the Study of Western Hemispheric Trade, the Student Development Center, intramural fields and courts and infrastructure improvements. Combined, the Phase III expansion will see the campus' facilities grow by more than 60%.

Phase IV of the campus' completion will be targeted in this Legislative Session and will focus on additional laboratory, infrastructure and support services space for the growing University.

For additional information, please contact the Office of the Vice President for Finance and Administration at 326-2380.

University office hours are from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at