Bookstore, PA program, Writing Center to move
It seems that despite various discussions and resolutions by student and faculty senates and committees, the Bookstore will move to the Library
The move is part of a set of maneuvers meant to maximize space on campus, according to Vice President for Student Affairs Martha Cantu.
Basically, the strapped-for-space Physician’s Assistant program will move into the current Bookstore location, on the corner of University Drive and Nevarez/4th Avenue. The Bookstore will then move to the first floor of the Library, in the Writing Center’s current location. The
Writing Center will be moved temporarily to the Academic Services Building before being relocated to a new building yet to be built on campus, called the University College for now.
The University College will be built between the University Center and the Administration Building as a hub of undergraduate activity, including offices such as Study Abroad and the Guerra Honors Program along with the Writing Center. The proposed building will cost about $11.9 million and be financed by the state, student fees, and private donations.
The moves will free up the Bookstore location for the PA program, which admits only 50 students despite getting about 400 applications annually. The hope is to be able to admit 100 students, according to Cantu.
“The University is also proposing to double the size of the PA program; thus, the urgent need for additional space,” Cantu said via email. “The Bookstore will be within closer proximity to all the academic buildings on campus.”
According to the administration, the Writing Center will move to the Academic Services Building during the upcoming Winter Break and the anticipated date for the Bookstore to move into the Library is in March 2013
The idea of moving these University entities around caused a stir among the Student Government Association, the Faculty Senate and the Library Advisory Committee, specifically the Bookstore moving into the Writing Center’s current spot.
According to Cantu, the various groups were informed of the plans.
Cantu, Vice President of Business Affairs Marty Baylor, and Provost Havidan Rodriguez attended the SGA meeting Sept. 28 to present the plans, which Baylor said had been talked about among the administration for about a year. The plans were met with a myriad of questions from the senators and SGA President Matthew Garcia.
“Personally, I don’t see a lot of benefit coming to the Library from the move. I’m not a business major, but I don’t see a lot of textbooks sales coming from that, unless it’s on impulse,” Garcia, a double major in biology and political science, said after the meeting. “Plus you would have to drive and then walk to the center of campus and then drag your books back to your car.”
Cantu said the parking issue is being seriously considered but that moving the Bookstore to the Library will still benefit the University.
“Currently, having the Bookstore across the street is an inconvenience for UTPA students and visitors,” she said. “For example, attendees at conferences and special events on campus are more likely to visit the bookstore to shop for UTPA souvenirs if it is located within the Library building.”
Cantu also pointed out that there is unused space in the store.
“The current Bookstore building was built to serve bookstore operations before the existence of eBooks and other online textbook companies,” she added.
Garcia of the student body also expressed concern for ousting the Writing Center, which students visit year-round, in favor of the Bookstore, which he said students only go to twice a semester. Baylor responded at the SGA meeting that the Bookstore was going to push to get more of a year-round presence by selling UTPA and Bronc spirit attire.
Andrew McDonald, who teaches biology at UTPA and serves on the Library Advisory Committee, also spoke at the meeting and vehemently expressed concerns about housing the Bookstore under the same roof as the Library.
“I have worked at eight universities and no one has ever put (a bookstore) in the center of a library,” he said. “This is just commercial enterprise. You are going to take away serious institutes
Thomas White, professor of criminal justice and chair of the Faculty Senate, said there was a general feeling of disagreement among the Senate about the moves. The Senate voted Oct. 10 to approve a resolution supporting relocating the Bookstore to make room for the PA Program, but opposed moving the Bookstore into the Library. It passed eight to seven, with two abstentions, according to White.
The SGA drafted a resolution Oct. 12 containing much the same language as the Faculty Senate opinion, but ultimately it did not come to a vote, because the group felt it needed more student response. The SGA typically takes about a month from the time an issue is presented to draft and vote a resolution, according to Garcia.
Additionally, the Library Advisory Committee sent an email to the provost outlining their concern about the move, saying that it “would diminish the quality of education at UTPA and undermine our shared interest in elevating our institution to a higher level.”
According to Cantu, the administration does its best to keep everyone’s best interests in mind.
“It is the University administration’s duty and responsibility to make decisions that benefit students, faculty, staff and our visitors while maintaining our commitment to excellence in our physical facilities and our academic programs,” she said.
Members of the SGA, the Faculty Senate and the Library Advisory Committee felt that the changes were proposed to their groups too late for them to give any meaningful input.
“We would have been more open if it was revealed in a different way – if it was presented as a discussion rather than people just coming to present,” Garcia said. “If we had actually had time to come up with a resolution…. but as it was, we really couldn’t do much
When McDonald spoke at the SGA meeting in September, he expressed concern to the administration about the decision-making process.
“You did not speak to the Library advisory committee,” he said. “Faculty is unaware of these plans; this is
After various complaints, a meeting was called Oct. 10 between UTPA President Robert Nelsen, the three vice presidents (Cantu, Rodriguez and Baylor) as well as Garcia, White, and Gilbert Perez Jr., chair of the Staff Senate, to attempt to work things out.
The Writing Center’s temporary location was going to be the Lamar Building off Schunior Street, but after hearing from representatives of the various senates, the temporary location was changed to the Academic Services Building closer to the center of campus. This pacified Garcia and White to some extent.
“We would still rather it didn’t have to move, but if it does have to, then (the ASB) is much better,” Garcia said.
Perez said that after the meeting with Nelsen and the other members of the administration, the Staff Senate’s concerns were put to rest and they didn’t feel a resolution was necessary.
“All of our concerns were addressed,” he said. “It was explained that this is for the betterment of
According to the resolution drafted by the SGA and passed by the Faculty Senate, there is a space shortage at UTPA of approximately 600,000 square feet and the Library has about half the square footage it should, based on
The Faculty Senate’s resolution as well as the Library Advisory Committee’s email to the provost suggested putting the Bookstore across the street, in the Union or in the pending University College near the University Center, but Garcia said it was made clear to him, at least, that the Library is now the only option.
“I’m trying to encourage everyone to not see it as ‘we lost,’ but that we still need to fight for the majority of the space to be study space,” he said.
If anything else comes out of the disagreement, it might be a loose agreement between administration and community organizations to communicate changes earlier.
“We pushed to be involved the next time if they are doing something that affects the students, faculty and staff,” Garcia said. “They should include representation from them. We should be involved, not informed.”