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The University of New Mexico began serving the educational needs of Valencia County in August 1978 with the establishment of the UNM-Eastern Valencia County Satellite Center. The creation of this Satellite Center ended nearly two decades of work by members of the Los Lunas and Belen School districts to provide a stable source of post-secondary education and vocational training in Valencia County. A total of $93,000 in seed money was raised to help open the facility.

In 1979, the State Legislative Finance Committee indicated that expanding satellite centers, such as the one in Belen, should be established as branch campuses to be supported by an ongoing mill levy as well as with student tuition and general fund appropriations.

The local community indicated its continued support by voting overwhelmingly in favor of creating a branch campus. Additional assistance came from the Board of Educational Finance, the New Mexico State Legislature, and the Eastern Valencia County Higher Education Committee, Inc. As a result, a formal proposal to establish the branch was accepted by UNM in March 1981. Classes began in August of that year. Technical certificates and Associate degrees could now be completed locally for the first time in Valencia County history.

Continued growth in enrollment and program offerings soon created a pressing need for additional space and new facilities. A new campus in Tome was built in response to this need, opening its doors in the summer of 1986.

A library and learning resource center were added in 1994. The campus underwent extensive renovation in the Spring of 1995 and again in 2000. These renovations provided additional classrooms, more office space and a larger cafeteria. During this time two more buildings arose enhancing the picturesque scenery of UNM Valencia's landscape.

During the Fall of 2000, UNM Valencia held the grand opening ceremony for the brand new Student Community Center. The Student Community Center consists of two new buildings. One of which contains two levels providing a Child Daycare Center, UNM Valencia's Community Education Program, and the Small Business Development Center. Adjacent to it stands a larger Bookstore, and the brand-new, modern Physical Fitness Center.

By Fall of 2004, two more buildings had been renovated, and a brand new Health Sciences building, had been built. This building is located on the southwest side of campus and consists of a cadaver lab, science labs, classrooms and offices.

In the Fall of 2005 came our new Vocational/Career Technical Center. It consists of classrooms, computer labs, and the TRiO program offices, computer lab and conference rooms. This building is located south of the Health Sciences building.