Las Vegas, NM – The local economy will benefit and historic Rodgers Hall on the Highlands University campus will be renovated if voters approve Higher Education Bond C.
“During the past decade, general obligation higher education bonds have brought about $13 million to the Las Vegas economy,” said Highlands University President Sam Minner. “If approved this year, Bond C will bring $6.5 million locally including $4.5 million for Highlands and $2 million for Luna Community College.”
Minner said Bond C funding will create local construction jobs and benefit businesses like restaurants, as well as help renovate another Las Vegas historic architectural treasure.
Bond C is a statewide measure on the Nov. 8 ballot that does not raise taxes, but instead would replace funding from bonds set to expire.
Historic Rodgers Hall, completed in 1937, is a Work Progress Administration (WPA) project built during the Great Depression. Architect John Gaw Deem designed Rodgers in the Spanish Colonial Revival style. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places and the New Mexico Register of Historic Places.
Lloyd Moylan painted the rare Depression era murals titled “The Dissemination of Knowledge” that still grace the main stairway and second floor of Rodgers Hall, which was once the university’s library before Donnelly Library opened in 1966.
“Rodgers Hall is another beautiful and historical building on our campus that we have a responsibility to take care of for future generations,” said Sylvia Baca, facilities director. “It hasn’t had any renovations in many decades and is badly in need of attention.”
Baca said Rodgers Hall needs a new roof, new plumbing, a new heating and cooling system, and new energy-efficient windows.
“In addition, Rodgers requires extensive upgrades to meet American with Disabilities Act regulatory codes, as well as fire, life and safety codes,” Baca said.
She said all the Rodgers renovations would be designed with historic preservation in mind as well as meeting LEED Silver certification – a high-level measure of green building practices.
Rodgers Hall was named for Thomas Rodgers, who served as dean from 1914-1937 and was also a renowned mathematician who headed the Mathematics Department. The building is in a prominent campus location at 803 National Ave., across from the Lora Shields Building.
Minner said Highlands University has put past general obligation higher education bond funding to good use to renovate historic buildings on campus, and improve learning environments for its students.
The Trolley Building is the most recent to benefit from Bond C funding. It is another Las Vegas historic landmark that Highlands transformed into a state-of-the-art facility for its Media Arts and Technology Department, thanks to $6 million in general obligation higher education bonds as well as a $2.3-million New Mexico legislative appropriation.
Classes began in the 21,027-square-foot Trolley Building Aug. 17, the first day of fall semester. It was completed on time and on budget.
Earlier higher education bonds funded renovation projects such as the Lora Shields Building for the Facundo Valdez School of Social Work, the university’s swimming pool facility, and the Felix Martínez Building, a one-stop shop for student services.
Baca said the higher education bond funding is a competitive state process that is completely separate from the university’s budget.
“By law, these higher education general obligation bonds are earmarked specifically for construction or renovation of publicly owned university and college buildings,” Baca said.
Statewide, Bond C aims to provide more opportunity for New Mexico’s students that will help them compete in the local and global job market, create local jobs, and provide communities around the state with an economic boost.
If voters approve Bond C, public universities and colleges statewide would receive $131,106,200 for capital construction projects.
More information about Higher Education Bond C is at www.nmbondc.com