The increase in the student population on campus, beginning with the end of World War II and the introduction of the G.I. Bill, caused the university to burst at that its seams by the 1960’s. There was a dire need for more classes and, therefore, classroom and faculty space. One of the rapidly growing departments, the School of Education, was housed primarily in what is currently called Graham Hall. One of the first buildings on campus, Graham Hall did not provide adequate space for the quickly mounting student and faculty body. It was a great relief for the School of Education and the Engineering Department when the University broke ground on the Education-Engineering Complex (now the Education Building) in 1968. In order to construct the building the university purchased the Baptist Student Center for $58,000, and the Chi Omega sorority and the Delta Delta Delta sorority for $56,500 and $68,500 respectably. The building, when complete, was the largest teaching facility at the University at the time and cost $3.7 million to construct, of which one-third came from federal funds.
Once completed in 1970, the Education Building featured a nine story tower and two wings of four stories each. Officially, the complete building never carried the title of the Education-Engineering Complex because there were already plans to build an Engineering Building; the Education Building was a temporary home for the Engineering students and faculty. The 130,000 square foot facility was designed to incorporate the Bhutanese architectural design of the campus with the low hipped roof and stone structure. In 1977 Dale Walker, UTEP faculty member, suggested that the Education Building was one of the “regrettable cases” in which the architecture varied “drastically” from the university’s original Bhutanese concept. This may have been because it the structure was the first on campus to include a broken roof line; the building also lacks the distinctive brick line and mandalas on the upper-most level. When the building first opened the wings housed the Education and Metallurgical-Engineering departments with classrooms and labs. The building also included a 500 seat lecture hall which was accessible from the first and second floor. The fifth through ninth floors housed offices and seminar rooms. The elevators were built to control the traffic to the offices (floors 5-9). One elevator services the offices in the tower and the other services the four story wings.
In 1976 the Engineering students found a new home in the Engineering and Metallurgy Buildings, part of the Engineering-Science Complex, and the Department of Education took over complete use of the Education Building. Currently the building accommodates three departments in the College of Education, facilities for research and certification courses, an education library, and a computer lab.
[Sources: College of Education, http://coe.utep.edu/; Nova, Spring 1968; The Prospector, 3/15/1968, 7/25/1698, 2/4/1969, 2/18/1969, and 10/30/1970; Waler, Dale, Texas Architect, “Shangri-la on the Border: Bhutanese Architecture at UT-El Paso,” September/October 1977.]
Ashley Swarthout was a student in the Masters of Arts in Teaching English program at UTEP. She graduated in May 2013 and is now teaches dual credit at Chapin High School.