West Texas A&M University's Amarillo Center Is a Success

The new Amarillo Center achieves their goal.

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When West Texas A&M University looked to establish a teaching site in downtown Amarillo, officials hoped that the new facility would get noticed.

The new Amarillo Center achieves their goal.

What began as an experiment to see how an urban classroom site would fare has quickly become a textbook example of filling an unmet need. Enrollment for the first classes in fall 2008 was strong and has soared in 2009. After just one year, additional offerings – and space – already are on tap.

“We conducted a survey with business and government leaders, students, alumni, just everybody we could think of, to see what programs were needed most in the Amarillo area,” says Dr. J. Patrick O’Brien, WTAMU president. “We contracted with a survey firm, MGT of America Inc., and we found there was a demand for upper-division and graduate education programs in the area, and we also found there were a lot of individuals in and around the Amarillo area who wanted to pursue their higher education but couldn’t do so because of transportation or cost issues.”

The university took over 20,000 square feet on the 10th and 11th floors in the Chase Tower at 600 S. Tyler. Amarillo’s highest building quickly became a magnet for students, so much so that new courses quickly made their way onto the roster.

“We offered 32 courses in our first semester and had about 600 students,” O’Brien says. “The second semester, in spring 2009, we offered 53 classes and had more than 1,000 students. Now we’re expanding our offerings in the business area and also including engineering and some more upper-division education courses.”

To make those classes happen, present a broader range of courses in professional development and continuing education, and explore the potential of having an MBA program and more at the site, more physical space is being adapted for the university’s use.

“We’re looking at taking the seventh floor and establishing a bookstore on the first floor,” O’Brien says. “The community’s response has been fantastic, and we’ve gotten a lot of support from the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation, and we’re definitely growing to meet the need.”



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Wed, 02/28/2018 - 21:22