Children’s Center Will Break Ground On New Building

SOCORRO, N.M. October 25, 2010– Four years after launching a fund-raising effort, New Mexico Tech will officially break ground on the new Macey Family Children’s Center. The university invites the local community to the special occasion at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 27, on the lawn south of Macey Center.
The current children's center will be replaced in 2011. A ground-breaking ceremony at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 27, will commence the construction project.

The new $1.5 million center will be purpose-built as a children’s educational center, serving pre-school youngsters age 2, to 5. University officials and major donors will break ground with ceremonial golden shovels, while more than two dozen children will use bright-colored plastic shovels to mark the occasion.

“I’m very pleased, relieved and satisfied that we are finally ready to start construction,” director of auxiliary services Louise Chamberlin said. “Our fund-raising efforts were slow and steady, but we finally reached this point.”

Many community members have donated to the fund, including former students, former parents, faculty members and local residents.

“All of this would not have been possible but for all the generous individuals who donated to the building fund, but most particular, our strong benefactors, Bill and Cheryl Macey,” university President Dr. Daniel H. Lopez said. “The Maceys pledged to match all other donations, plus supplied start-up funding and capital. Without that sort of undying support, we wouldn’t be ready to build such a great facility.”

Bill Macey graduated from New Mexico School of Mines in 1942. He has been New Mexico Tech’s staunchest supporter over the years. He donated more than $1 million for the construction of the Macey Center in the 1980s. Macey has also staked matching funds for other donations for the construction of a new Children’s Center. Mr. Macey also supports Tech’s highest academic award, the Macey Scholarship, which is a highly-competitive $5,000 award given to four Tech students each year.

Mr. Macey said he first got the idea after making a small donation to the Center in 2006.

“I toured the existing facility and realized right then the need for a new center for our children,” he said.

Macey credited his wife, Cheryl, and several Tech staff members, including Chamberlin and former vice president Dr. Ricardo Maestas, for mounting the fund-raising drive and sharing his vision for a new center. Macey said he’s especially proud of the fact that all the construction funds were raised from private sources, including individuals and corporations – and that no tax dollars will be used.

The new Center will have 6,000 square-feet of indoor space and 9,142 square-feet of outside area. The Center will also increase its capacity from 32 to 48 children.

The New Mexico Tech Children’s Center is the only full-time year-round children’s center in the county. The new facility will allow the Center to become a five-star accredited facility, said Children’s Center Director Ann Sullivan.

The new center will have specific features that the old facility lacked. The bathrooms will open to the children’s area as well as the outdoor playground. The new building will also have conference rooms for consulting with parents in private, Sullivan said.

“The welfare of faculty and staff’s young children is of great importance to the university, as well as the young children,” Lopez said. “This facility will enhance early childhood development and help make the children well-prepared students to continue their education, including perhaps at New Mexico Tech.”

The Children’s Center first opened its doors in 1971 on a shoestring budget thanks to a core group of New Mexico Tech faculty parents. The first center was neither accredited nor licensed, but it served the needs of faculty parents.

In the late 1970s, the facility moved to a duplex on Tech hill. In the early 1980s, the Children’s Center moved again, this time to its current location, which had been a residence.

Since then, the building has been renovated and added on to, so as to better serve the needs of children and their parents. However, with this new building, we will finally have a Children’s Center that is built specifically for this need. Throughout the years, the Tech Children’s Center has taken a unique approach to educating youngsters.

“Children leave our Center and are fully prepared for kindergarten – not because we give them classroom-style learning – but because we let them play,” Sullivan said. “Our graduates know their numbers, letters and colors. They also know how to play well with others. All our activities are interactive. We have no DVD players, no TVs and no computers. Our playground doesn’t have traditional equipment. We have what we call loose parts. Our children play with blocks, containers, pots, pans, crates and other movable parts. They build things. They work cooperatively. New Mexico Tech prides itself on its hands-on practical education. At the Children’s Center, we pride ourselves on the same thing.”

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech