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Regents Report: Tuition and Enrollment Increasing

SOCORRO, N.M. March 24, 2014 – The New Mexico Tech Board of Regents heard about another enrollment increase, a proposed tuition increase, pay raises and construction updates at the regular monthly meeting Thursday, March 13, in Socorro.

Tony Ortiz, director of the Admission Office, told the Regents that 240 high school seniors have paid their application fee, up from 211 at the same time last year. Also, about 35 percent of the new students are Hispanic. Ortiz said long-term efforts to recruit students in New Mexico and Texas have paid off.

President’s Hall, which is closed this year for renovations, will re-open in the fall to add 54 beds to the inventory of Residential Life.

Ortiz also introduced his new assistant, Reynaldo Maestas, who most recently worked as a recruiter for the UNM School of Medicine.

University president Dr. Daniel H. Lopez said he will likely recommend a 5 percent tuition increase beginning with the fall 2014 semester. The Student Government Association has leant its support for a 6 percent increase, but Lopez said the administration – and the state legislature – prefer to keep the tuition increase to a minimum.

Lopez updated the Board on the 2014 legislative session and the state budget. Tech will see an increase of about $500,000 in its Instruction and General budget.

The state pledged $100,000 for the Geophysical Research Center, which supports faculty research positions.  The state also approved a ballot initiative for a $15 million General Obligation Bond, which would allow Tech to construct a new building for the Chemistry and Materials Engineering departments. Regardless of the outcome of the G.O. Bond vote in November, Lopez said Tech will begin architectural design of the new building within the next two months. Miguel Hidalgo, director of special projects, said he will begin planning meetings with faculty from Chemistry and Materials Engineering in the next two months. The new building will be about 45,000 square-feet, which is the same as the current Jones Hall.

The Legislature allowed for 1.5 percent salary increases for employees at state-supported universities; however, Lopez said he’s confident Tech will be able to fund 3 percent salary increases. He said he had been hoping to add five full-time, tenure-track faculty positions, but the new budget will only allow for three or perhaps four new positions.

Tech will also receive $90,000 for the Magdalena Ridge Observatory Interferometer, $100,000 for two new parking lots, $100,000 for EMRTC, $60,000 for the Supercomputing Challenge and $100,000 for ICASA.

Lopez said the state will fully fund the Lottery Scholarship for the spring 2014 semester, but will continue to debate the future of the fund. He said he expects students to be limited to seven semesters of funding and required to maintain a minimum of 15 credit hours per semester to qualify, starting in 2015.

Hidalgo reported that construction of the new Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources building is 30 days ahead of schedule – largely thanks to agreeable weather and the absence of “change orders” from the contractor. He also said the project has become a sort of laboratory for engineering students. Every Friday, 20 to 30 students visit the site to learn about construction means and methods, Hidalgo said.

Colleen Guengerich, director of the Office of Advancement, reported on increased fund-raising activities. She said donations increased to $1.3 million in 2013 – a 30 percent increase from 2012. She and other administrators have met with potential donors (predominantly Tech graduates) in Washington, Idaho, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico.

She said she is working on a cooperative agreement with ConocoPhillips in Farmington and other oil companies in southeast New Mexico. She also expects to have an official announcement soon about a donation that will allow Tech to resurrect the summer mini-course program, which formerly brought dozens of high school students to campus for week-long courses in science and engineering.

The Board approved a banking resolution to remove recently retired Dr. Peter Gerity from the signatory list and to add Melissa Jaramillo-Fleming.

The Board accepted the Employee Benefit Trust audit, the January 2014 financial analysis and four resolutions to dispose of surplus property via auction.

The Board learned that Tech awarded two bachelor’s, eight master’s and one doctorate in January.

The Board learned that four New Mexico Tech professors will be on sabbatical during the 2014-15 academic year: Dr. Ken Eack, physics; Dr. Bhaskar Majumdar, materials engineering; Dr. Rafael Lara-Martinez, humanities; and Dr. Frank Huang, environmental engineering.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech