Several speakers said the $42 million building — which houses numerous student services and affairs departments — in the heart of the main campus will provide greater accessibility and convenience for students.
The new facility, at the former site of Bizzell Hall just east of Simpson Drill Field and north of Rudder Plaza, features 150 offices, 14 open work areas and 25 meeting and conference rooms.
“This epicenter really serves as a hub for student services,” Daniel Pugh, senior vice president for student affairs, said Wednesday morning. “It’s a perfect coupling of the academic and service components coming together. There’s a significance to the location.”
The 95,000-square-foot building houses the Division of Student Affairs, Residence Life and the Offices of the Dean of Student Life. Additionally, it holds three departments featuring new names: disability resources, formerly called disability services; counseling and psychological services, formerly known as student counseling services; and the LGBTQ+ Pride Center, formerly called the GLBT Resource Center.
The building also features a custom-designed art installation by artist Resa Blatman and sculptor Roger Stoller.
In his remarks Wednesday morning, Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young said that the new facility’s central location and amenities will serve students and staff alike in their work.
“This building, I think, helps provide the facilities, capacity and space for the extraordinary personnel that we have,” Young said. “This university is not only a place where education occurs in the classroom, but it’s a living laboratory where students experience leadership opportunities, service opportunities and ways of using their education on behalf of others. What goes on in this building is central to making those opportunities possible for our students.”
In the fall of 2015, several student services departments were moved out of Cain Hall to make way for what is now the 250-room Doug Pitcock ‘49 Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center. They were temporarily located in buildings across from White Creek Apartments on West Campus, something several speakers referenced at Wednesday’s announcement.
Kyle Cox, a 2018 A&M graduate who is now a graduate student at the Bush School, spoke on behalf of Disability Resources. A wheelchair user, Cox said Disability Resources was “a key reason” for his past and current success at Texas A&M. He said the new building’s features move A&M “closer to being a top-tier university” for students with disabilities.
“It was challenging to access the temporary location on West Campus, and I am thankful that students will be able to access Disability Resources more easily,” Cox said. “This building brings Disability Resources back to the center of campus in a convenient location. It illustrates the priority our university places on disability.”
Following the morning announcement, Heather Wheeler, director of gender & sexual diversity, and Coleman Posey, a junior anthropology student, told The Eagle that it is “critical” to have the student services departments back in the heart of campus.
“I would say that having the LGBTQ+ Pride Center back on main campus is really important for a lot of our students,” Wheeler said. “We’ve made a lot of headway in the last couple years being a more LGBTQ+-friendly campus, and having the Pride Center back on main campus is both symbolically and functionally important in the message that Texas A&M University has — that we are a more inclusive campus.”
“For things like the Women’s Resource Center and the Pride Center, and Disability Resources — for those places to be here on campus is important. Now that they’re here on main campus, students will be more inclined to use them, and that will help the overall climate,” Posey said.
Sabrina Zuniga, a senior psychology major, volunteers for Texas A&M’s Help Line. Zuniga spoke on behalf of Counseling and Psychological Services.
“It’s so important that A&M has now moved those resources to the center of campus to really make a statement — to say that we are here with you, we are ready to receive you, we are ready to walk with you, and we are ready to support you in whatever you need,” Zuniga said.