A $600,000 gift from New Mexico State University alumnus Jim Wetherbe and his wife, Brynn, will fund construction of a nondenominational campus chapel at NMSU. The facility would be available for weddings, memorial services and as a location for peaceful meditation, regardless of faith.
"Campus chapels have been wonderful additions to universities across the country," said NMSU President Garrey Carruthers. "This chapel will be devoted to the idea of harmony. It will allow our students to discover and engage with the many diverse spiritual beliefs found at our university. Jim and his wife, Brynn, have been very generous to NMSU for a number of years and we thank them for making this project possible."
Jim Wetherbe is a faculty member at Texas Tech University, where he earned his MBA and Ph.D. He graduated with a bachelor's in business administration from NMSU in 1971. He is a current Business Advisory Council member, a 1990 NMSU distinguished alum and a 2003 member of the NMSU College of Business Hall of Fame.
"It occurred to me that we do not have a chapel at NMSU," Wetherbe said. "The world has become much smaller than when we were students. We all tend to head off to college believing the faith in which we are raised. NMSU has a compelling theme of discovery. Discovering what others believe and why is a good outcome as part of our college years."
Nondenominational chapels are found at colleges and universities across the country, including many large universities in New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and Colorado. They often serve as places for both celebration and remembrance, as well as a location for quiet rest, thought and meditation.
The proposed chapel is still in the design phase, but will have architecture similar to other buildings on campus and will be located near the NMSU Duck Pond. The current building design is for a 2,300-square-foot structure that would seat 100-125 people. It would also include a covered portico, or gathering area for pre- and post-function events. Construction will include energy-efficient and sustainable building materials and practices. The building could be finished by the end of 2014.