Science building to receive funds

Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

The United States Senate has approved a bill which includes $620,000 for science and technology equipment for Eastern New Mexico University. The bill, approved Thursday, needs the president’s signature for completion.
This additional money would help ENMU officials purchase molecular and cellular biology equipment. James Constantopoulos, chair of the physical sciences department at ENMU, said the money will also be used to purchase microbiology, biochemistry, physical chemistry, anatomy and physiology equipment.

“This is equipment that actually benefits two departments — biology and physical sciences (chemistry, geology, and physics),” Constantopoulos said. “The benefits include allowing us to update curriculum to offer our students hands-on, up-to-date training in the latest techniques on modern equipment. This will help us attract and retain students and build our programs, including our new degree program in biochemistry. It will allow us to develop our proposal to offer an interdisciplinary degree in Environmental Science.”

U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., helped include the $620,000 through Housing and Urban Development’s Economic Development Initiative program, according to a release from Domenici’s office.

“This bill contains funds for ENMU to include top-notch equipment and materials in its new science center,” Domenici said in the press release. “The entire student body will benefit from fully outfitted laboratories and classrooms.”

Steven Gamble, ENMU president, said he is thankful to Domenici for his efforts in bringing in money for the science equipment.

“This money is very important,” Gamble said. “The equipment will be very high-tech and will be appreciated by the students who will use it. It is my understanding that if the senate has passed it, it will go to the president for his signature. If he signs it, we could get the money by the first of July.”

The new science equipment will go in the renovated science building, which will have an addition constructed to it.

Gamble said an architect will be drawing up design plans and ENMU officials will advertise for bids on the construction work. According to Gamble, the new addition and remodeling should be complete in 18 months. The current science building will also go through renovations to meet ADA compliance and upgrade the building.

Voters approved Bond Question B in 2004 which earmarked $7 million for a new science building. Because of rising costs for construction materials, such as steel and concrete, ENMU representatives had to change their plans to construct an addition instead.