April 28, 2014 by Darrell J. Pehr, NMSU News Center
A sunny afternoon and gentle breezes alongside the largest pond on campus provided the perfect setting as ground was broken Friday at New Mexico State University on what will become the site of the university’s nondenominational spiritual center.
Construction of the center was made possible by a $600,000 gift from NMSU alumnus Jim Wetherbe and his wife, Brynn. Once completed, the facility will be available for weddings, memorial services and as a location for peaceful meditation, regardless of faith.
“May the spiritual center that will rise here be a place of gathering, of direction, of solitude, of diverse expression, of affirmation for the value of every person,” said NMSU Interfaith Council member Rabbi Larry Karol during remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony.
NMSU student Randy Curley, president of the Christian student group Walk By Faith, added, “This new spiritual center can potentially be life-changing for the students of NMSU. The spiritual center will be a place of refuge and guidance.”
Jim Wetherbe said he was motivated to suggest a spiritual center be built at NMSU when he thought back on what would have been helpful to him when he was a student here. His best friend died when he was a student, and a place like a spiritual center would have made that time, as well as other challenges, a little easier to bear.
“I’ve had several students come up, saying this is so great, a place we can go without having to drive off campus,” he said. “I also think that if you’re going to spend some time thinking about the deeper meanings and greater, important issues of life, you need a place aimed at that, focused on that, a place that you can share with other people.”
Wetherbe is a faculty member at Texas Tech University, where he earned his MBA and Ph.D. He graduated with a bachelor’s in business administration from NMSU in 1971. He is a current Business Advisory Council member, a 1990 NMSU distinguished alum and was inducted into the NMSU College of Business Hall of Fame in 2003.
NMSU President Garrey Carruthers noted the benefits of the location, which is near much of the university’s student housing.
“This is where many of the students live, and this will give them a place to pray,” he said. “We hope they will come and take advantage of what will be a wonderful addition to our campus.”
Carruthers noted that the center also will be an asset for the community, open to use by community organizations.
Nondenominational spiritual centers can be found at colleges across the country, including many large universities in New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and Colorado. They serve as places for both celebration and remembrance, as well as a location for quiet rest, thought and meditation.
The NMSU spiritual center building design will include a covered portico to serve as a gathering area for pre- and post-function events. Construction will include energy-efficient and sustainable building materials and practices.