Regents Approve Graduation List, Discuss Enrollment

SOCORRO, N.M. – The New Mexico Tech Board of Regents on Friday afternoon officially approved the list of 2009 graduates, including 332 students earning bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees.

“This is the most rewarding thrill of each year,” university president Dr. Daniel H. Lopez said. “This is why we’re here.”

Dr. Lopez presided over the commencement ceremonies Saturday, personally handing degrees to more than 250 students in attendance. The 332 diplomas include students who finished in August and December 2008.

The Board had a full agenda, discussing finances, purchases and enrollment trends and planning.

The Board approved a one-year sabbatical for Earth science professor Dr. Penelope Boston. Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Peter Gerity said Boston will use the time to complete her book projects.

The latest enrollment report shows New Mexico Tech lagging behind last year’s record figures by about 20 paid applicants.
Assistant Vice President Melissa Jaramillo-Fleming reported on new activities the Admission Office is undertaking.

She said the staff is trying to involve the faculty in more recruiting, intensifying on-line recruiting and involving the marketing staff.
Regent Richard Carpenter asked if the recruitment plan could – and should – also include current students. He said Tech students can interact with high school students as peers more effectively than faculty and staff.

“Some of us feel like the student body could be used more profitably in recruitment and retention,” he said. “It seems that the best way to talk to high school seniors is using people their age. Contemporaries dealing with contemporaries.”

Student Regent William Villanueva said many Tech students would be thrilled to serve as recruiters. He offered to help rally students.
Jaramillo-Fleming introduced new Admission Office recruiter Carolyn Eggert-Pehap, who is a December 2008 graduate of Tech and will serve as the staff liaison for the student group, the Hi-Tech Ambassadors.

Jaramillo-Fleming said that many current recruits are opting to stay close to home – enrolling at colleges in Albuquerque.
In other business:

     * Vice President of Finance Lonnie Marquez presented the 2009-2010 budget, which includes a state-mandated 2.5 percent cut.
The budget includes a 5 percent increase for in-state tuition and an 8 percent increase for out-of-state tuition. The Building Renewal fund was cut by $56,815 and the Equipment Renewal fund was cut by $457,000.

   However, the state’s contribution to Tech’s operating budget will increase, due to increased value of Tech’s programs, per the state’s funding formula.

     * Marquez also presented a monthly financial analysis for April 2009. He said that revenues are ahead of schedule through 75 percent of the fiscal year.

     * The Board approved a resolution adopting a Severance Tax Bond for $400,000 for infrastructure improvements.

     * The Board approved a resolution authorizing the university’s Research Park Corporation to apply for $20 million of financing to partner with Weston Corporation on construction of a new building at Kirtland Air Force Base.

     * The Board heard about several restricted fund purchases.

           -- The Bureau of Geology purchased two mass spectrometers for its geochronology laboratory for a total of $470,000.

           -- The Petroleum Recovery Research Center made four large expenditures on its carbon sequestration project. The Center spent $209,494 with Advance Resources International;  $151,500 with the University of Texas-Austin; $792,002 with the University of Utah; and $193,018 with Utah Geological Survey.

          New Mexico Tech is the lead agency for the Southwest Regional Partnership on Carbon Sequestration, which is a 10-year, $160 million project funded mainly by the Department of Energy.

          -- New Mexico Tech issued two contacts to Science Applications International Corp. through a cooperative agreement with White Sands Missile Range. SAIC will operate the F-22 accreditation program for $1.38 million and the Multi-Function Threat Detector demonstration for $348,325.

          -- The Energetic Materials Research Testing Center issued a two-year, $1 million contract to Weidlinger Associates for development and implementation of an Enhanced Urban Airblast Tool at New Mexico Tech.

     * Marquez presented information about the Skeen Library’s annual subscription payment of $473,019 to EBSCO Subscription Services. Head Librarian Owen Ellard said the subscription fees are decreasing as the library moves toward digital delivery of academic journals.

     * The Board heard about a proposal regarding Optical Surface Technologies, a company partially owned by Tech’s Research Park Corp. The university’s partner, Muniz Engineering, proposes to convert its long-term debt to owner’s equity in an effort to sell its ownership. The move would not affect Tech’s investment in the company, which is manufacturing optics for the Magdalena Ridge Observatory and other customers.

– NMT –