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Regents Approve 8 Percent Tuition Increase

SOCORRO, N.M. April 20, 2011 – The New Mexico Tech Board of Regents approved the administration’s recommendation to raise tuition 8 percent for next year during its meeting Tuesday at Macey Center.

Tech President Dr. Daniel H. Lopez said the increase includes the state-mandated 3.1 percent increase.

At a previous student forum, Lopez said the 4.9 percent that Tech is adding to the state-mandated hike is expected to generate about $500,000 in additional revenue. That additional funding will be used to hire two or three new faculty members, he said. The Mechanical Engineering Department will be allotted one new position, along with one for the  Chemistry Department and possibly a third position may be funded for the Earth and Environmental Science Department.

The board also learned that enrollment for the fall 2011 semester is starting to inch closer to last year’s record class.

Tech has received more applications this year (1,347 to 1,209) than last year and admitted roughly the same number (728 this year versus 731 in 2010). However, the bellwether figure is paid applications, which is lagging behind (205 this year versus 260 at the same time last year).

Lopez said the Admission Office staff is working hard to get applicants to pay the $50 fee, thus committing to attend Tech in the fall.

Vice President of Student and University Relations Melissa Jaramillo Fleming said the number of incoming students who have applied for residence in the dorms is the same as last year.

“Even though our numbers [of paid applicants] are lower, we’re getting a second confirmation that they will enroll,” she said.

The meeting covered rather routine business, with much time devoted to explanations for the two new regents.

  • Lopez reported that Governor Susana Martinez did not veto any bill that would have provided funding to higher education. She did, however, veto language in the General Appropriations Act which would have cost universities a significant amount of money. The legislature, in the language that was vetoed, had approved a requirement that all universities report quarterly on all federal funding – which was the measure that Martinez struck down. Lopez said Tech would have had to hire a new staff member to accommodate that mandate. “We already report to the agencies that provide funding,” he said. “Now, they were asking us to report to people who do not provide that funding.”
  • Larry Carmody of Moss Adams LLP presented the annual audit of Tech’s finances and accounting methodology. He said Tech has no significant deficiencies and only made a handful of recommendations for new practices.
  • Lopez reported that construction of the new hot water loop is nearing completion. Most of the work currently under way is cosmetic – landscaping and sidewalk repairs. He said the contractor is expected to finish before commencement on May 14.
  • Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Peter Gerity reported that four academic departments will soon have new chairs. He said these changes represent routine three-year cycles.
    • Dr. Bhaskar Majumdar takes over for Dr. John McCoy in Materials Engineering.
    • Dr. Alexander Kornienko takes over for the departing Dr. Wim Steelant in Chemistry.
    • Dr. Gary Axen takes over for Dr. Rick Aster in Earth and Environmental Science.
    • Dr. Snezna Rogelj takes over for Dr. Tom Kieft in Biology.
  • Marquez presented the financial analysis for March 2011, the final budget adjustment request for fiscal year 2011 and the proposed operating budget for 2012. The Board voted and unanimously approved the fiscal year 2012 operating budget.
  • The board approved emeritus status for Dr. Peter Scholle, who is retiring as State Geologist and Director of the Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources. Scholle said he will continue to conduct research as a part-time staff member.
  • Lopez presented the March 2011 graduation list, which included eight master’s and one doctoral degree.
  • The board approved the Skeen Library’s annual contract for academic electronic journal subscriptions, for $475,925.
  • The board learned about several restricted-fund purchases greater than $100,000, all made by the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center. All these expenditures relate to first-responder and military training programs in Socorro and Playas, N.M.
  • The board approved sale or transfer of several property items:
    • Transfer ownership of Pinpoint Weather System to Capitan Middle School.
    • Transfer ownership of Pinpoint Weather System to Maxwell Municipal School.
    • Sell five assets of the Chemistry Department, with a minimum asking price of $10,821.
    • Sell 3,700 pounds of brass cartridges for at least $1,250 and 17,000 pounds of steel cartridges for at least $2,500.
    • Permit the Earth and Environmental Science Department to cannibalize a computer cluster that is no longer in use, but can be used for parts.
  • The board approved the Dr. Lopez’s goals for calendar year 2011:  The goals include:
    • Manage budgets to avoid layoffs.
    • Obtain capital funding to construct a new Bureau of Geology building.
    • Increase third semester retention from 72 percent to 78 percent.
    • Develop a plan to keep tenured and tenure-track faculty, specifically to maintain accreditation.
    • Work with the N.M. Higher Education Department to devise a new funding formula for colleges and universities.
    • Plan for expansion of the airport at the Playas Training and Research Center.
    • Make progress toward building a new dormitory.
  • The board rejected an appeal by Dr. Carlos Ulibarri of the Management Department regarding denial of tenure and promotion.
  • The board sustained the denial of tenure and promotion for Dr. Andrew Budek of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.
  • Pending review by Tech’s attorney, the board raise the limit on accrued vacation for Dr. Lopez. Board member Jerry Armijo noted that Lopez has not used most of his vacation in his17 years as President and has, as a consequence, lost hundreds of hours of vacation.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech