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“ It is appropriate that our mission be intimately joined to the growth and development of the City of Laredo. Indeed, the challenges we now face are truly Laredo’s challenges . . . “

Dr. Ray Keck III

support must continue for students seeking an education.

Second, we must together with our school districts and our sister institution, Laredo Community College, align our curricula better to prepare our students for college study. At present, fewer than 10 percent of graduating seniors from our high schools score “college readiness” on either the SAT or the ACT .

Third, we must work with the City of Laredo to identify adequate recreational facilities and green spaces for our citizens, and bring to fruition the many good proposals for revitalizing our historic downtown. The presence of students attracted to Laredo from outside Webb County will enhance the educational experience of students native to the area. Young people and their parents looking at possible college choices will consider the surrounding community as they make their plans. The more attractive our city, the more appealing it becomes as a place to spend the college years.

Radcliffe Killam has often commented that when the history of the twentieth century is written for Laredo, it will be said that the founding of Texas A&M International University was the most significant, far-reaching event of its time. Our University is the work of many hands, trailblazers, the founders were called. Their beacon, our beacon, provides the enlightenment sorely missed by Jorge Manrique in his day. For South Texas, ours is the best of times.

Dr. Ray M. Keck III, President



ou can’t miss it…the shining top of the Lamar Bruni Vergara Planetarium’s pyramid!

What’s it made of?

The pyramid top is 24K gold leaf over an aluminum-clad sandwich panel. The pyramid is an insulated four-sided silicone glazed skylight system supported by structural steel tubular framing. How was it constructed?

The pyramid top’s aluminum sandwich panels are welded together at the seams to insure watertight assembly. Gold leaf is hand-applied to the aluminum with adhesive and burnished to secure properly. Finally, the top is fitted into the pyramid’s insulated glazing system and secured with silicone sealant. Does it have a structural function?

The top of the pyramid acts as a functional component of the waterproof membrane that protects the color- shifting painted plaster dome roof of the planetarium, but it is not a structural element. Does it act as a lightning rod?

No, but the surrounding building is equipped with a dedicated lightning protection system which protects the lower height pyramid from the threat of lightning.

What design philosophy does it visually reinforce?

The pyramid itself relates to the ancient Mesoamerican peoples’ pyramids used to measure time and the universe and their place in it. This relates directly to the function of the state of the art planetarium housed within the pyramid. The gold-leafed pyramid top evokes images of light and enlightenment, visually reflecting the purpose of the planetarium and the broader mission of the University as a whole. Of special interest:

The pyramid offers a remarkable juxtaposition of the cutting edge technology used to construct the four-sided butt-glazed glass portion of the pyramid with the centuries-old craft of hand-applied gold leafing at the pyramid top.

The Lamar Bruni Vergara Science Center and Planetarium was dedicated last Spring and was designed by San Antonio’s Kell Muñoz Architects. Our thanks to Ronnie Biediger of Kell Muñoz Architects for his assistance with this. prism 5

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