SANTA FE -- The New Mexico Tech Board of Regents approved a measure at its February 25 meeting in Santa Fe, which will allow the university to enter into a lease agreement for a Socorro apartment complex, beginning as early as the 2003 Fall Semester.

Under the plan, New Mexico Tech will lease the apartments from its affiliated New Mexico Tech Research Foundation, which currently is negotiating an outright purchase of the Mountain Springs Apartments in anticipation of a projected upsurge in student enrollment at the state-supported research university.

During the meeting, New Mexico Tech President Daniel H. López told the regents that preliminary figures on new student enrollment for the 2003 Fall Semester at Tech continue to indicate a significant boost in the school's student population over last fall's figure of 1,763 undergraduate and grad students.

While classroom and lab space at New Mexico Tech can currently accommodate a larger-than-average influx of students, López said that he and other Tech administrators must quickly prepare for a possible record number of students at the university by leasing the nearby rental property to house some of the entering students who might be unable to obtain on-campus housing if residence halls fill to capacity as is anticipated.

In addition, a soon-to-start renovation and expansion of the university's historic Cramer Hall will require using one of New Mexico Tech's older residence halls as replacement office space, displacing about 60 Fitch Hall residents--a situation which also will be alleviated with the leasing of the Mountain Springs Apartments, which are located three blocks east of Tech campus.

Three out of the five regents on New Mexico Tech's governing board were attending their inaugural meeting in Santa Fe, after having been recently appointed by Governor Bill Richardson and confirmed by the New Mexico State Legislature.

The three newly appointed New Mexico Tech regents are:

  • Jerry Armijo, a Socorro lawyer who has served on the New Mexico Commission on Higher Education for more than five years, including a stint as chairman of the commission for the past one- and-a-half years;
  • Richard Carpenter, a retired Santa Fe lawyer who has practiced law in New Mexico for 40 years; and
  • Isaiah Storey, a New Mexico Tech senior majoring in chemical engineering, who hails from Albuquerque and is a graduate of St. Pius X High School.

The newest members of the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents join fellow regents Sid Gutierrez, secretary/treasurer of the board, and Ann Murphy Daily, president of the board.

In other official actions taken at its monthly meeting, the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents awarded a posthumous bachelor of science degree in engineering mechanics to the late Jeremiah Wayne Wright, along with its approval of the rest of the university's December 2002 graduates.

Wright, who died last September in a traffic accident, was regarded throughout the campus as a student leader and dedicated scholar and researcher.

The New Mexico Tech Board of Regents also took official action on the following matters during its monthly meeting:

  • gave the go-ahead to proceed with three on-campus capital projects, including the Cramer Hall renovation, the construction of the Joe Fidel Student Services Building, and the construction of a new Fine Arts complex;
  • approved the appointment of Susan L. Bilek to the full- time, tenure-track position of assistant professor of geophysics and research geophysicist;
  • approved multi-year contracts awarded to three travel agencies, which will provide departments, research divisions, employees, and students at the university with comprehensive travel services in an efficient and cost-effective manner; approved
  • multi-year contracts for purchases of detonators and ordnance materials for the university's Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center (EMRTC);
  • approved a contract for architectural and engineering consulting services;
  • approved a contract for the purchase of pre-engineered buildings;
  • ratified a purchase (previously approved by phone vote) of the Banner Financial System, which will augment the university's current Banner System;
  • approved new signatories for New Mexico Tech financial transactions;
  • approved a budget adjustment request for the current fiscal year; and
  • evaluated the Tech President's job performance and approved a new compensation package for him.

In addition, the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents were informed that Ping Lu, associate professor of materials engineering at Tech, and Subhasish Mazumdar, associate professor of computer science, both had recently had been granted sabbaticals from their academic duties.

Regents also were given an update by Tech President López on how legislation affecting New Mexico Tech is faring so far at the currently convened New Mexico State Legislature.

López reported that several of the related bills introduced at this year's legislative session appear to "stand a good chance of passing," including bills providing additional funding for the university's EMRTC, Institute for Complex Additive Systems (ICASA), distance education programs, aquifer mapping project, and faculty and department chair endowments.

López also told the regents that a 2.5 or three percent raise for university employees seemed likely to be approved by state legislators, and that he would do his best to "look for internal funding sources" at New Mexico Tech to provide an additional two percent hike in salaries at the university.

On a related matter, the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents unanimously approved a resolution voicing the board's opposition to legislation being considered at the State Capitol that would expand the makeup of governing boards at all New Mexico universities to seven members, with the two new regent positions relegated to a faculty member as well as a staff member at all the respective universities affected.