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Tech Planning 2 Percent Raises For Employees

SOCORRO, N.M. April 4, 2012 – New Mexico Tech President Dr. Daniel H. Lopez told the Board of Regents that he expects to propose a 2 percent raise for employees beginning in July, thus ending the wage freeze that has been in effect since 2008.

Coupled with a change in retirement funding, most employees will see an increase of about 3.5 to 3.75 percent in gross wages, Lopez said.

The official recommendation for the salary increase will be brought to the board at the April meeting, which has been moved to Sunday, April 29.

The university’s state-provided budget will be about $600,000 higher in 2012-2013 than the current year’s budget, he said. About half of the increase will go toward retirement fund contributions; the remaining increase help fund salaries and addressing other areas of critical need.

“There will be no more bleeding, no more cuts,” Lopez said. “There really was a much better outcome [with the legislator’s high education budget] than during the last few years.”

Tech will also propose a 4 percent tuition increase for the 2012-2013 year – a move supported by the student leadership. Lopez presented a resolution that stated that the Student Association Senate officially supports a tuition increase.

Lopez attended a Student Association meeting in February to explain the tuition increase, where he explained that he was also recommending a salary increase.

“This speaks volumes about the kinds of students we have at Tech,” Lopez said. “Without my prodding, they passed a resolution supporting the tuition increase.”

Enrollment for next year is progressing on pace to surpass last year. Although applications are on par with last year, the number of paid applicants is well ahead of last year. As of February 29, 203 new students had paid their application fee, compared with 157 at the same time in 2011.

The current freshman class is the largest in Tech’s history, which created challenges for the Residential Life office. Some students were housed in a local hotel for the first two weeks in the fall 2011 semester. Melissa Jaramillo-Fleming, Vice President of Student and University Relations, said dormitories are filling fast for the fall 2012 semester and the Residential Life office will accommodate as many students as possible.

The new dorm – as yet unnamed – will begin construction in June and is expected to be open for students by the fall 2013 semester. That facility – to be build on the south end of the Athletic Field, will house 150 students.

In other news, the Board of Regents

  • Approved promotion to associate professor and tenure for six faculty members:
    • Dr. Barbara Bonnekessen of the Communication, Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Department;
    • Dr. Julianne Newmark of the Communication, Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Department;
    • Dr. Cory Leclerc of the Chemical Engineering Department;
    • Dr. Michaelann Tartis of the Chemical Engineering Department;
    • Dr. Mehrdad Razavi of the Mineral Engineering Department; and
    • Dr. Nadir Yilmaz of the Mechanical Engineering Department.
  • Approved promotion to full professor for three faculty members:
    • Dr. Lorie Liebrock of the Computer Science and Engineering Department (and Dean of Graduate Students);
    • Dr. Mary Dezember of the Communication, Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Department (and Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs); and
    • Dr. Peter Hofner of the Physics Department.
  • Granted tenure to one professor – Dr. Rene Arechiga of the Electrical Engineering Department.
  • Heard that seven degrees were awarded in February, all master’s degrees.
  • Met as the Employee Benefit Trust. Lopez reported that a campus committee has reviewed four proposals for new health insurance coverage for employees. He said none of the four proposals are good enough to recommend to the Board. Lopez suggested that the university stay with the current plan for a few months and continue to assess the national climate for health coverage.
  • Approved two contacts for subscriptions to technical journals: one with EBSCO for $499,722 and the other with Elsevier for $259,117. The Board and administrators discussed the rising cost of subscriptions at length. Librarian Lisa Beinhoff said both companies have monopolies on their brands and that there is no cost-saving alternative.
  • Board member Jerry Armijo said he attended a staff meeting at EMRTC recently to hear about a new contract and financial management system that is expected to allow the research organization to become more cost effective. He said the new system is so drastic that it will require a cultural change at EMRTC. “The way we’ve done business in the past won’t work in this environment,” he said. “But we have a strong commitment to carry this through.”

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech