January 20, 2014 by Justin Bannister, NMSU News Center
With the ceremonial cutting of a ribbon, New Mexico State University officially opened its new Spiritual Center. Following months of construction, the facility is now available for weddings, memorial services and as a location for peaceful meditation, regardless of faith.
“Besides providing a campus facility for significant celebrations and memorials, Brynn and I were hoping to help achieve a charming, accessible and inviting facility that would provide a peaceful place for reflection and restoration from the daily demands and challenges of academic life,” NMSU alumnus Jim Wetherbe said. Construction of the Spiritual Center was made possible by a $625,000 gift by Wetherbe and his wife, Brynn.
“We are thrilled with the outcome and deeply appreciate the dedicated efforts of President Garrey Carruthers and the rest of the NMSU team that made it possible,” he said.
Wetherbe graduated with a bachelor’s in business administration from NMSU in 1971. He’s currently a faculty member at Texas Tech University, an NMSU Business Advisory Council member, a 1990 NMSU distinguished alum and a 2003 member of the NMSU College of Business Hall of Fame.
“I can’t commend Jim and Brynn enough for their efforts in this endeavor,” Carruthers said. “It was their vision and generosity that made the Spiritual Center a reality. This is a wonderful addition to our campus and it’s just the latest example of their continued devotion to NMSU. This university is a caring community and this facility will allow our students to discover and engage with the many diverse spiritual beliefs found on our campus.”
During the ceremony, Carruthers also thanked NMSU’s Interfaith Council for their assistance in helping create the center, and the university’s Office of Facilities and Services, including project managers Boyd Poirier and Matthew Ochoa, for their work with the project.
Poirier was a dedicated staff member and part of the NMSU Aggie family who passed away before the center was completed. As a tribute to his work, the Jim and Brynn Wetherbe established a scholarship in Poirier’s memory for an engineering student at NMSU.
The Spiritual Center is located on NMSU’s International Mall, west of the Educational Services Building and the Pan American Center, near the university’s duck pond. In additional to its 2,250 square feet of interior space, the structure has a 28-foot tower and a covered portico, or gathering area, for pre- and post-function events. The building also features a 1,200-square-foot patio and is similar in appearance to other NMSU buildings. Construction included energy-efficient and sustainable materials and practices.
Furniture for the Spiritual Center was donated by NMSU alumnus Bobby Lutz and his wife, Rebecca, through their company, GL Seaman. The center’s patio was made possible by Garrey Carruthers and an additional $25,000 donation he made to the project in the name of his wife, Kathy. This patio is dedicated in honor of her 72nd birthday and in celebration of a lifelong commitment to her family and faith.
“Kathy’s own spirituality and love for family has inspired so many throughout her lifetime,” Carruthers said. “Through this gift, it is intended that Kathy’s legacy would continue to inspire others who visit the New Mexico State University Spiritual Center.”
The concept of constructing a location for quiet rest, thought and meditation on the NMSU campus is nearly 75 years old. In 1941, interest in erecting a college chapel was brought up by an interdenominational council of churches. Unfortunately, the NMSU Board of Regents said there was insufficient funding at the time for the project. Other locations around the NMSU campus have long been used by various groups for spiritual purposes.
A fundraising effort also is underway to help support the Spiritual Center and student initiatives held in the center. For $250, donors will be recognized in a display located on the center’s tower. Donors can honor or memorialize a loved one with the purchase of individual markers for a donation of $250 or more. The first marker will be in memory of NMSU project manager Boyd Poirier. For additional information about the fundraising effort, contact Andrea Tawney at 575-646-4917 or make a secure online donation at http://giving.nmsu.edu/SpiritualCenterMemorial.html.