Student Center Grand Opening today

Commerce – This morning marks the grand opening of the new Sam Rayburn Student Center at Texas A&M University-Commerce.

Festivities will begin at 10 a.m. with the ceremony, outside from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m.

Speaking will be Student Government President Byron Johnson, A&M-Commerce President Dan Jones, and Dr. Frank Ashley, vice chancellor for academic affairs of the Texas A&M University System.

The Sam Rayburn Statue will also be dedicated. Dr. Randy McBroom, A&M-Commerce interim associate vice president for academic affairs, will speak about Rayburn, longtime speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and a graduate of East Texas Normal College, founding institution of A&M-Commerce.

Rayburn of Bonham served in Congress for almost 50 years. He died in 1961.

The bronze statue was sculpted by Gordon Thomas of Greenville, retired A&M-Commerce staff member.

From 11:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., appetizers will be served inside the building in the Club. There will be live performances by the Panimation Steel Drum Band conducted by Brodie Ross. Also entertaining will be acoustic singer Jonathan Clay of Austin.

Tours of the building will be available. The new $25.4 million Student Center will focus on two initiatives - leadership and service, said director Rick Miller.

"Leadership is one of the things we build into the work experience," Miller said. "We have student employees who work as building managers so they are gaining real-life experience. The students are utilizing what they learn in class and enhancing it here. We're not just a building, we are a collection of students who have their own energies and ideas and ambitions that drive us."

Artwork by A&M-Commerce students and faculty will be featured in the building and horticulture students will contribute to the landscaping. Business and marketing majors gain experience by running, promoting, and operating the building.

The bottom floor of the state-of-the-art 92,000 square foot facility is called Main Street. The Club with its gaming center, the Convenience Store, Dining Room, and Einstein Bros. Bagels, an ATM, and Lion Card Services are located on this floor.

Meeting rooms and conference rooms are located on the second floor.

The building was designed by WTW Architects, nationally recognized architectural firm specializing in student union construction and renovation, and constructed by Gideon Toal, award-winning architectural and structural engineering firm.