Colorado Mesa University is moving ahead with plans to construct a computer science and engineering building, including relocating a math and science center to the new facility proposed for the Grand Junction campus.
Under an expanded partnership announced by CMU and the John McConnell Math and Science Center, the center will occupy 19,500 square feet of space on the first floor of the 87,000 square-foot building. In exchange for the space, the math and science center will give CMU $7 million.
“This is a unique opportunity to combine the educational and hands-on experience of the math and science center with the academic resources of CMU, resulting in a synergy which will provide significant benefit for the center, CMU and, most of all, the community,” said John Hopkins, president of the center board of directors.
“Clearly, CMU has been very successful in recent years and the math and science center will benefit from and, I believe, add to that success. Each brings its own outstanding resources, and the beneficiaries are the children of the Grand Valley and the Western Slope,” Hopkins said.
The math and science center currently operates out of space in the New Emerson School at 2660 Unaweep Ave. in Grand Junction.
John McConnell, a retired physicist, founded the center in 1990 as part of his efforts to educate and mentor public school students on math and science. The center offers interactive displays, special events, field trips and resources for parents and teachers.
Teresa Coons, executive director of the center for the past seven years, said she already works with CMU faculty and students to deliver math and science programs to Western Colorado students and communities. Relocating the center will bolster those efforts, she said.
“CMU engineering, science, math and teacher education students have been the backbone of our after-school and summer camp programs and our outreach into the community,” Coons said.
“This new opportunity for relocating the math and science center’s physical facilities to the CMU campus will strengthen this partnership and collaboration. I am especially excited about the opportunity for teacher education students to work directly with K-12 students at the center, making it a living laboratory and classroom for these new teachers and a direct connection to higher education for local area K-12 students.”
CMU President Tim Foster echoed Coons’ sentiments.
“There are so many good reasons to implement this idea, and the hands-on opportunity to work with K-12-aged children it offers our teacher education students is high on that list,” Foster said. “I also think it is another great opportunity for West Slope kids to come to campus and to be able to imagine themselves as college students”
CMU has requested state funding to pay for part of the cost of what’s estimated will be a $32.8 million project to construct the new computer science and engineering building. CMU has requested $5 million from the state the first year and $18.5 million the second year for the $32.8 million building.
Foster thanked Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, who also serves as executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, for reopening the department’s process for ranking capital construction requests so consideration could be given to the partnership with the math and science center. As a result, CMU’s request for funding for the computer science and engineering building moved from seventh on the list to fifth.