Despite a chilling breeze, warm hearts prevailed for the groundbreaking of Texas A&M International University's $18 million Center for the Fine and Performing Arts Dec. 12.
Part of the University's $49.5 million Phase III expansion, the Center is viewed by many as a regional forum for learning, performance and artistic fulfillment. The 88,000-square foot facility will include rehearsal and performance spaces, classrooms, exhibit areas and a music hall with over 517 seats.
President Charles Jennett said the addition offers an outstanding home for arts on the growing campus.
"The Center for the Fine and Performing Arts will help our students to go further. It will be an engaging space designed to lift hearts and minds and give art, artists and audiences a remarkable regional forum for learning, performance and artistic fulfillment," he said.
He thanked student performers, who opened the ceremony, and noted they are prepared to become ambassadors for this new Center for the Fine and Performing Arts.
"We are honored that they have chosen us to help them reach their personal performance or artistic fulfillment and thank them for entrusting us with their vision and bright future," he observed.
Jennett said the arts have a special place in higher education.
"They lift our spirits, open our minds and help to interpret our very condition. They question our future, capture our past and make our present worthy of memory," he noted.
Various student groups showcased the future of the arts at the University with performances by the award-winning Mariachi Internacional, A&M International String Group, Dance Performance Troupe, Classical Spanish Ballet and Ballet Folklorico. The day's published program featured art by current students.
The Center should be completed in 20-months and is one of the most complicated constructed to date on the campus, said Joe Garcia, vice president for Finance and Administration.
"Construction will begin 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," said Garcia.
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, all currently approaching completion.
Combined, the Phase III expansion will see the campus' facilities grow by more than 60%. Completion of Phase III represents a $120 million investment in higher education in Laredo and South Texas.
Phase IV, 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.
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