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WT spends $18 million on renovations, including nursing floor at Amarillo Center

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 7:14 AM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - West Texas A&M University is spending $18 million in renovations ahead of the 2021-2022 academic school year. The funds are spread across four different areas and buildings, all aimed to enhance student life and be completed by August 2021.

The School of Nursing is seeing the biggest changes, with $7.1 million being spent on a new nursing floor at the Harrington Academic Hall WTAMU Amarillo Center.

“We had shelled out the second floor in our initial project in our Amarillo Center, knowing we would get there some day,” said Vice President of Business and Finances at WTAMU, Randy Rikel. “And now’s the time.”

The Amarillo Center’s second floor will now be home to all undergraduate nursing students, which is compiled of mostly juniors and seniors.

Before, nursing students and faculty were split between various buildings.

Now, all undergraduate nursing students will be in one central location and have easy access to professors and study groups.

“The biggest benefit of having the new floor in the Amarillo center is all of the faculty and all of the students can get together in one space,” said Holly Jeffreys, department head for nursing for the WTAMU College of Nursing and Health Science. “We have everything we need.”

The new downtown location will help students more easily attend clinicals at Amarillo hospitals.

It’s also equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, including new classrooms, student lounges and a simulation lab.

“They’re just like a hospital room, students go in there, we have a patient, we can make that patient do all kinds of things and simulate a real encounter that students will experience and walk through those scenarios that we develop for them,” explained Jeffreys. “It’s an awesome learning experience for them and it gets them comfortable knowing what to do when they do get into the hospital. We have one big simulation lab but we have five different areas where we can do simulations simultaneously.”

The Amarillo Center renovations also include a new student parking lot on the southwest side of the building.

Over at WT’s Canyon campus, students can expect an upgraded pedestrian mall at 26th Street and Terrell Lawn.

This will enhance an area of campus meant for student activities, club gatherings, hanging out with friends and tailgating.

A new drainage system will prevent the pedestrian mall from becoming a muddy swamp so students and guests can use it year-round.

“It’s building traditions,” explained Rikel. “We just moved the football stadium to campus two years ago and the first time we had a tailgate it was incredible just to have people here on campus. It’s another place for people to get together in fellowship and to root on the Buffs.”

WT is also spending $3.8 million to upgrade the Natural Sciences Building.

Renovations include a new roof and state-of-the-art science labs.

“We’re going to make some really exciting changes, we’re going to be renovating most of our lab spaces on the third floor and many of them on the second floor. All of these things are going to be really key to making, giving the students a better environment in which to work, cutting edge facilities, better equipment...it’s going to make a really big impact on students’ success and development,” said David Sissom, head of the department of Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences at WTAMU.

Other infrastructure renovations include upgrades to the plumbing and fire-sprinkler systems, HVAC systems and installation of a backup generator system.

WT faculty and students will also see maintenance upgrades to the pool at Virgil Henson Activities Center.

“We are putting in a new air handler so it takes all the humidity out of there. We’re also painting and [adding] new flooring, which is really neat looking. It’s just another shining moment of that facility, so it will be good for students to see that,” said Rikel.

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