Regents Report: Construction, Graduation, Enrollment, Raises

SOCORRO, N.M. May 23, 2012– The Board of Regents officially approved the graduation list for May 2012 and heard about enrollment, salary increases and construction projects at two recent meetings.

During the April 29 meeting, the Board approved the construction of a new as-yet-unnamed dormitory, with an estimated cost of $7.37 million.

At the May 11 meeting, the Board selected the low bidder, Pavilion Properties of Portland, Ore. The company, which has a regional office in Albuquerque, submitted a bid of $6.68 million, which was the lowest of 12 bidders.

The new facility will add 150 beds to the campus population, adding to the existing 710 beds.

The Board also heard about the following construction projects:

* The Macey Family Children’s Center is officially open. The ceremonial ribbon-cutting was May 4. The Regents toured the building prior to the May 11 meeting.

* The Athletic Field is being torn apart to install a new irrigation system. The Field will also be laser-leveled and re-sodded. That project will finish in early August, in time for the UTEP football team’s training camp.

* Work on the heating and cooling system at Macey Center is completed. Next on tap is replacement of the façade, which is expected to cost about $3 million, Lopez said.

* The roof of Workman Center is being replaced for about $879,000. National Roofing Co. was the lowest of four bidders on the project.

The Board approved across-the-board salary increases of 2 percent. The increase will cost Tech about $538,000 per year (including benefit increases). Employees will also see a decrease in the amount of their wages withheld for retirement; therefore, most employees will see an increase in take-home pay of about 3.75 percent.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Peter Gerity said the hiring freeze has been relaxed. Academic departments have been able to fill vacancies in some areas.

Administrators presented fall 2012 enrollment updates at both meetings. As of April 30, Tech has 298 new students who have paid for admission, compared with 287 the year before. Last year, many students enrolled during the summer months to make that class the largest freshman class ever.

University president Dr. Daniel H. Lopez said he expects undergraduate enrollment to be flat for the fall semester, while Vice President Melissa Jaramillo-Fleming expects a modest increase jump over last year.

The Board approved the President’s goals for the coming year, which are the following:

* Work toward successfully passing the G.O. Bond, which includes $18 million for construction of a new Bureau of Geology building. The bond will go to New Mexico voters in the general election this fall.

* Increase Tech’s persistence rate (third-semester retention) toward the ultimate goal of 78 percent. Tech’s persistence rate has hovered around 73 percent for several years.

* Continue to work with the Higher Education Department to refine the funding formula.

* New dorm construction

* Begin Phase I of a new Operational and Capital Fund Raising Campaign, which initially will focus predominantly on forming relationships with potential donors.

* Begin planning work on a new building to replace Jones Hall, which houses the Chemistry and Materials Engineering Departments.

* Complete the re-accreditation process with the Higher Learning Commission.

* Maintain a research budget of $90 million for sponsored research.

The Board received monthly and quarterly financial analyses, all of which show Tech is under budget on expenditures and at budget for revenues.

The Board learned of new academic appointments and promotions:

* Greer Price was introduced as the new State Geologist and Director of the Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources.

Dr. Michael Pullin is the new chair of the Chemistry Department, replacing Dr. Alex Kornienko, who is headed to Texas.

* Dr. Corey Leclerc is the new chair of the Chemical Engineering Department, replacing Dr. Tom Engler, who has taken over as Dean of Engineering.

* Dr. Lorie Liebrock is now a full professor and the Dean of Graduate Studies. She also is stepping down as chair of the Computer Science and Engineering Department.

* Dr. Subhashish Mazumdar is the new chair of Computer Science.

The Board approved five resolutions related to the disposal of surplus property. Instead of holding auctions in Socorro, Tech has contracted with Bentley’s in Albuquerque to collect property and conduct auctions. Vice President of Finance Lonnie Marquez said the university will increase its sales by using a private auctioneer.

The Board approved a contract with FIA Card Services for gas cards and procurement. The Bank of America subsidiary was the low bidder

The Board approved a contract with Atkinson and Company for auditing services. Atkinson was not the lowest bidder, but offered the most hours on task. Administrators ranked Atkinson higher than the lowest bidder, REWD Inc., due to “drastically underestimating” the man-hours required for an institutional audit. Tech received seven bids, three of which were named finalists.

The Board approved a resolution officially designating the university president as the chief executive officer. Federal agencies that fund Tech research recently insisted that the university formally make that designation.

State Mine Inspector Terence Foreback presented a recap at the May 11 meeting of the recent Mine Safety Conference, which was held at Tech.

Vice President of Research Dr. Van Romero gave the Board special glasses designed to view the upcoming annular eclipse, which will be the evening of Sunday, May 20. Everyone who attended graduation received a free pair of eclipse-viewing glasses. Also, the Admission Office mailed the glasses to potential recruits who live within the eclipse viewing area. Romero also mentioned a special star party he is hosting for amateur astronomers at the Magdalena Ridge Observatory that night.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech