This November, voters will be able to decide if the University of New Mexico will receive funds to renovate its chemistry building, construct a new Reserve Officer Training Corps building and build a new career center for the UNM Taos branch.
These projects are all part of General Obligation Bond D, which will be on the general election ballot this November. GO bonds are a type of municipal bond often used to fund brick and mortar projects on universities.
They are secured through a pledge taken by the state government to pay back bond holders using legally available resources, often through tax revenues. GO Bond D, however, is not associated with taxpayer dollars and would be paid back through revenue generated by UNM.
Dr. Karen Ann Smith, the research facilities director for the UNM Chemistry Department, said she wants voters to know the GO Bond D would benefit students and faculty in the long run.
“We think that we will be able to provide the students with better lab experiences that are climate controlled and experiments that are more relevant to what they’re going to be doing looking forward from UNM,” Smith said.
Bond D would allocate $16 million to renovating Clark Hall, UNM’s chemistry building. According to UNM’s GO Bond explanation, Bond D would renovate and modernize the 65-year-old building’s classrooms, offices and teaching labs. It would also renovate the building’s utilities, heating and air conditioning systems, and electrical and plumbing systems.
“The roof leaks, heating and climate control is terrible, students have to wear their winter coats in the lecture hall. And so, fixing all that would be really important,” Smith said.
Smith said that while the renovation would present logistical challenges forcing faculty and staff offices to be temporarily relocated, all labs and classes would still be offered as normal.
“We will not allow those labs to be discontinued,” Smith said. “We want students to be able to take those labs and we have to figure out a way to offer them.”
Smith said the temporary inconvenience would be worth the new labs and equipment the chemistry department might receive if voters approve Bond D.
“We want to be able to offer cutting-edge science to the students and we can’t do that with the current teaching labs,” Smith said.
If approved, Bond D would also allocate $7 million to the construction of a ROTC building that would house the Army, Navy and Air Force programs. These programs are currently housed in separate buildings on the Northwest corner of campus.
According to UNM’s GO Bond explanation, the ROTC buildings, “lack the basic infrastructure to support modern technologies, do not meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) bathroom fixture requirements, and lack proper facilities for women.”
Before the start of the Fall semester, Army ROTC moved part of their program from their building on the corner of Lomas Boulevard and Yale Boulevard to Oñate Hall because facilities in the old building had become unusable.
Lt. Col. Alissa McKaig, professor of military science for UNM’s AROTC, said a new facility housing all three service branches would better reflect the kind of education cadets receive at UNM.
“We are recruiting nation-wide to bring cadets, and when they come to our program they’re coming to attend UNM and so we want them to see our program as a reflection of the quality of education that they also receive in the University,” McKaig said.
McKaig said the vision for the tri-service ROTC building is a U shaped structure with a center courtyard and each ROTC program would have its own wing. McKaig said such a layout would reflect the joint nature of military operations in today’s military.
“These are the future leaders of our military, of our government, of our nation,” McKaig said. “So I look at them establishing working relationships or just getting to know people from those other branches.”
McKaig also said a shared building would promote friendly interservice competition and camaraderie.
“We used to have interservice competitions, we always beat Navy at Army-Navy football every year, and that has sort of gone away in the last few years and I think the new building would sort of reenergize that,” McKaig said.
Bond D would also allocate $4,275,000 to the construction of a new building for the College Pathways to Career Center on the Taos Klauer Campus. According to the UNM GO Bond explanation, the new building would “house specialized classrooms for digital and media arts, computer simulation and 3D modeling; currently not available in the Taos area or at Klauer Campus.”
The College Pathways to Career Center’s purpose would be to provide “pre-college to college to career preparation services that will expose students to real-world job applications.”
Early voting began Oct. 20 and will continue until Nov. 3. Election Day is Nov. 6.
Tom Hanlon is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TomHanlonNM.