By Jim Lee
A couple of weeks ago I attended a double event at Eastern New Mexico University. It was important enough to attract people wearing suits that probably cost more than our car.
Thinking it wouldn’t be all that formal, I showed up in jeans and a T-shirt. After all, it was a Saturday. I would have felt out of place if people hadn’t gone out of their way to make me feel welcome.
People with cameras jockeyed for good pictures while a lot of big shots stood around shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries. I wondered why I showed up with all those important people until I suddenly realized how nice they all treated me.
That’s one of the cool things about this area: People don’t put on airs. Special people don’t act like they’re special people. I think what really sets people apart from others is simply not setting themselves apart from others.
The first of the two ceremonies was the dedication of the new bronze bust of Jack Williamson in front of the Jack Williamson Liberal Arts building. A gift from the People’s Republic of China, it is a remarkable likeness of our world famous local author and professor.
Steven Gamble, ENMU president, and Marshall Stinnett, president of the ENMU board of regents, spoke to the gathering. Then Williamson made a few comments and he was obviously pleased with the sculpture.
The next event was the new Communication Building groundbreaking. This time, Gamble, Stinnett, and Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega Jr., made brief remarks. The dignitaries turned over a bit of earth with those shiny shovels, followed by photo opportunities and a few minutes of socializing. One of those shovels sure would be nice to have in my tool box if I could figure out a way to get it to fit.
This is the first new building at ENMU in 13 years. The $4.2 million structure will have both the Department of Communicative Arts and Sciences and broadcast facilities for PBS affiliate KENW-TV and public radio’s KENW/KMTH-FM.
The new building will have classrooms, offices, and broadcasting facilities.
Unfortunately, Duane Ryan, director of the broadcast center, was unable to attend. Ryan founded and has nurtured both the radio and television operations to this day. Without him, they would not exist. The academic program would not have its great reputation without him, either.
If I had the authority, I would name the building after him. I would love to see the Jack Williamson Liberal Arts Building joined by the Duane Ryan Communications Center.
At the conclusion of the groundbreaking, President Gamble reminded everyone that in this November’s election we will have the chance to approve a bond for a new science building — another opportunity to expand opportunity. What better investment can we possibly make for our young people and our state?
All in all, both ceremonies were a privilege to attend, and soon I hope to attend the science building groundbreaking. I’ll see you there, my friends.
Jim Lee is news director for KENW-FM radio. He also is an English instructor. He can be contacted at 359-2204. His e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org