Regents Report: Enrollment Continues To Rise

SANTA FE, N.M. March 27, 2015 – The New Mexico Tech Board of Regents heard about rising enrollment and options for tuition increases for the fall 2015 semester at the March meeting in Santa Fe.

The meeting marked the first official meeting with new board members Donald Monette, David Gonzales and Myissa Weiss. Monette is a financial officer with Socorro Consolidated Schools, a city councilor and a former Tech employee. Gonzales is the vice president of operations with Logos Resources in Farmington and a Tech graduate. Weiss is a sophomore mechanical engineering student from Farmington.

The meeting was punctuated by a brief visit from the new Secretary of Higher Education Barbara Damron – the first such visit in many years. Damron talked about her vision for the future of colleges and universities in New Mexico and praised Tech for its high quality programs.

Tech President Dr. Daniel H. Lopez said the administration proposed three options for tuition increases: 2 percent, 4 percent or 6 percent. He said he will discuss the options at the semi-annual Student Forum, which is set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, in the Fidel Center.

Melissa Jaramillo-Fleming, Vice President of Student and University Relations, presented the monthly report from the Admission Office, which shows a significant increase over last year. As of February 28, Tech has received payment from 291 new students, which is 26 percent over the 214 paids as of the same time in 2014. The increases are in every category – in-state, Albuquerque, out-of-state, men and women.

Jaramillo-Fleming credited the increases to the recruiting efforts of the Admission Office, led by Director Tony Ortiz.

Lopez said the continually increasing enrollment creates challenges for finding classroom space, instructors and time slots for introductory courses.

“But that’s a good challenge to have and we will deal with it,” he said.

Lopez presented an update on the 2015 Legislative Session, which was nearing the end at the time of the meeting.  He said universities were tracking more than 100 bills that would impact higher education. He said most were benign, but some were critical.

One bill from the Senate Education Committee would have created a new oversight group for higher education. Lopez said the state has too many bureaucratic entities of that nature already.

Another bill would have required parity in faculty salaries. Lopez said universities want to maintain a degree of autonomy for determining salaries that are commensurate with an instructor’s experience and position.

Of all the proposals to change the Lottery Scholarship funding mechanism, Lopez mentioned one proposal that would have introduced a need-based element. He said about 58 percent of Tech students would no longer qualify if that proposal were adopted.

Universities were supporting a bill that would have provided matching funds for private gifts to university endowment funds. Lopez said he pushing for capital projects that include funds to information technology upgrades and planning money for renovations of Jones Hall.

Lopez said Tech should not see any cuts in the general fund and expects to see a modest increase in funding for the Bureau of Geology and a line-item for the aerospace program.

The Regents discussed the president’s goals for 2015-2016, including the following

    •  Secure G.O. Bond funding to renovate Jones Hall, which would be $7 to $10 million approved by voters in the general election in the fall.
    •  Improve third-semester retention and graduate rates.
    •  Increase private giving
    •  Secure $25 million for the Magdalena Ridge Observatory Interferometer

The Regents learned that physics professor Dr. Ken Minschwaner will be on sabbatical during the fall 2015 semester. He will be conducting research at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

The Regents approved emeritus status for Dr. Robert Cormack of the Psychology Department. Dr. Cormack passed away the following day. Click here for an article about Dr. Cormack.

The Regents approved the Skeen Library’s annual subscriptions to academic journals: $499,722 to EBSCO and $321,011 to Elsevier.

The Regents set the annual retreat for June 11 and 12 at the Hyatt Tamaya in Bernalillo. The event includes a day-long retreat and a regular meeting.

– NMT –