‘Can You Dig It?’ Ground broken on UTRGV academic building

BROWNSVILLE — Michael Quantz, associate dean of fine arts at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, likened the new academic facility being built on the Brownsville campus to a bridge at the ‘Can You Dig It?’ ceremony Tuesday afternoon outside the Main Building.

It is a symbol for the growing education opportunities in South Texas, Quantz said.

“It can be seen as a symbolic bridge, if not a structural one. A bridge of a sort for the interweaving of legacies of education in South Texas,” Quantz said.

The 102,551-square-foot facility will support general academics, music instruction and recitals, and science teaching labs. It will consist of two buildings, each three stories, arranged to create a courtyard that reflects the campus architecture.

Dean of Sciences Parwinder Grewal said the $54 million building was desperately needed.

“As a dean, the first thing the faculty ask is: where is my lab? We are expanding, and this is an exciting time for UTRGV and the College of Sciences,” Grewal said.

The building will offer four new chemical labs and two environmental science labs, Grewal said.

Quantz said once the facility was complete, professors and students — especially music students — would experience a more productive environment than they have now.

“Think of a student being trained to learn music while someone is in the room cutting lumber with a power saw. That’s a close approximation to the acoustics we currently inhabit,” Quantz said.

UTRGV President Guy Bailey said this was a good first step toward addressing potential overcrowding issues and moving away from leasing space from Texas Southmost College.

“We don’t have enough space on either campus, but if we can continue building like this, we’ll be fine,” Bailey said.

Moving forward the university will look at constructing another multipurpose facility on the Brownsville campus parking lot and moving some academic programs from Edinburg to Brownsville.

“We can’t do it all at once. But we did rehabilitation sciences last fall, and we have a list of half a dozen programs that will be offered here,” Bailey said. “As we get more space and in some cases, (earn) accreditation and approval for some programs, we’ll begin to offer them down here as well.”