WNMU Dedicates New John Arthur and Janette Smith Educational Center in Deming

Western New Mexico University dedicated the new John Arthur and Janette Smith Educational Center in Deming on May 24. The new facility will house the university’s health care programs.

© Western New Mexico University

WNMU dedicated its new John Arthur and Janette Smith Educational Center at a public ceremony May 24 in Deming. The 8,697 square foot center will house the university’s Deming health sciences offerings, including its Nursing, Phlebotomy, Pharmacy Technician, and Certified Nursing Assistant programs.

Construction of the center began in November 2022 and cost $10,765,000. Funding came from the New Mexico Legislature in 2019 and 2020, Severance Tax Bonds in 2020, 2021, and 2022, as well as from General Obligation Bond 3 in 2022. These resources covered land acquisition, architecture and engineering, site preparation, utilities and construction. The building’s furniture, fixtures, and equipment were funded by a federal pass-through grant to the WNMU School of Nursing and Kinesiology that was administered by the New Mexico Higher Education Department.

According to WNMU President Dr. Joseph Shepard, the location of the new building was chosen in part for its proximity to Mimbres Memorial Hospital and Deming High School. “Deming, like so many small communities, has a hospital that struggles to get nurses, that struggles to get technicians,” said Shepard, “This allows individuals to stay in Deming, and grow and prosper in Deming, and contribute to the health professions.”

The center was named for former New Mexico State Senator John Arthur Smith and his wife, Janette Smith, both of whom attended the dedication ceremony. Senator Smith worked tirelessly to secure state appropriations for research and public service projects, enhancing educational opportunities for the people of Deming and Luna County, said Dr. Kimberly Petrovic, Associate Professor of Nursing and Associate Dean for the School of Nursing and Kinesiology.

Naming the center after the Smiths was an easy choice, said Shepard. Senator Smith “has indeed done a tremendous amount for our state and should be honored for all his contributions,” he said. “His wife has been a teacher, an educator—exactly what WNMU is known for. … As a wife and a mother, she was also a supporter that allowed Senator Smith to do the wonderful things that he did. He could not have done it without her. So it made perfect sense to honor both of them, both for their individual achievements as well as for their collective unity that created those achievements.”

The university will continue to use the WNMU Deming Mimbres Learning Center to house general education classes and vocational training programs. Shepard said that the new building will not only provide the healthcare programs with a state-of-the-art facility, but it will also give the university additional space at the Mimbres Learning Center to grow the university’s career and technical education programs.

In addition, he said, the new facility expands educational opportunities for people throughout Luna and Hidalgo Counties, who have traditionally been underserved. The new John Arthur and Janette Smith Educational Center, said Shepard, “delivers access to higher education and career and technical education for [the southwest] part of our state, which I think is critical in terms of creating pathways for individuals within that region to grow and prosper and change their lives for the better through education.”


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