Jennifer Villa Documenting O’Donnell Hall’s Renovation

ACANS News & Information Center

Jennifer Villa Documenting O’Donnell Hall’s Renovation

O’Donnell Hall, home of the College of Education, was built in 1968. It was named after William B. O’ Donnell, who was a former professor and dean of that college. Additionally, O’Donnell was dean of students, and from 1959 through 1968, he was vice president of NMSU.

In the almost 30 years since its construction, the needs of the college have expanded. As one of the fastest growing colleges at NMSU, the College of Education has an enrollment of 1,700 undergraduate and 1,000 graduate students. Jennifer Villa, Director of the of the Learning Resource Center for the College of Education, says, “We were bursting at the seams. It (O’Donnell Hall) is not a big enough building for our entire college.” 

When voters approved Bond Issue B in November 2004, NMSU was awarded approximately $9.5 million for renovations to O’Donnell Hall. New Mexico State University appropriated an additional $2.5 million toward that project, bringing the total to $12 million. Phase One of the project is renovation of the existing building and upgrading its technological capabilities. Phase Two of the project is the addition of 30,000 square feet. And Phase Three, which has not yet been funded, may include the addition of a science, math, and technology wing, or may to used to house the Special Education and Communication Disorders programs. These programs are currently housed in the Speech Building.  

On August 28, 2006, the building was turned over to contractors, and Phase One and Two of project got underway. “Originally,” states Villa, “we thought we were going to stay in the building while renovations and construction was going on, but we found out in February that the university could save about $1 million if we vacated the building. As soon as we found out we were going to be displaced, we started going around ‘hat in hand’ to all the deans on campus asking for space.”

“We are all over campus,” states Villa, and a Location Map on the college’s homepage attest to that fact. It pinpoints the many locations that are now home to the various College of Education departments. “The library was very generous and gave us enough space for our administrative offices. ” The Dean ’s office and Educational Research and Budgeting are located on the first floor of Branson Library. The Learning Resource Center is located on the second floor of Branson Library. Distance Education and Academic Advising are located on the second floor of Zuhl Library. Most of the faculty from the Departments of Counseling and Educational Psychology, Curriculum & Instruction, and Educational Management and Development are housed in Regents Row.

Image of ...Deborah Gouldsmith, Assistant Advisement Services Coordinator, advises freshman education majors Victoria Eickerman and Aleigh Corbett, from left.

Among others who gave the College of Education temporary space are the Colleges of Agricultural and Home Economics and Engineering. “Although most of our faculty has moved to offices in Regents Row, a few of them have offices in the College of Agricultural and Home Economics. The College of Health and Social Sciences provided us classroom space that we are using to teach most of our technology classes. This arrangement works out well because most of their (Health and Social Sciences) classes are offered in the day, and most of our classes are offered in the evening. Engineering gave us a suite of rooms in Jett Hall, which currently houses our digital media lab. It is a big obligation to give space up for two years,” states Villa. 

The renovation of O’Donnell Hall is expected to take 16 months, which according to Villa, means it could be completed in January 2008. In the meantime, says Villa, “Students are starting to find us, especially since they have projects due soon.”

As coordinator of the move, Villa has been keeping up to date with the renovation of O’Donnell Hall. “ About once a week,” she says, “I go out and take a picture of the progress being made. And a few weeks ago, I got a tour of the building. It is going to be gorgeous. The windows on the third floor have been framed, and the view is spectacular.” Below is an architectural rendering of the proposed renovations and addition of O’Donnell Hall.

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