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Regents: Tuition Increasing 5 Percent; Wages by 3 Percent

SOCORRO, N.M. April 17, 2014 – The New Mexico Tech Board of Regents heard about fundraising efforts, a tuition increase, new funding opportunities for the Magdalena Ridge Observatory and approved the 2015 budget at the regular monthly meeting on Sunday in Socorro.

The Regents approved a tuition increase of 5 percent across the board. In-state undergraduates will now pay $2,647 per semester – up from $2,521. Out-of-state undergraduates will now pay $8,612 per semester – up from $8,202.

The Student Activity Fees will remain the same. However, the wireless service fee will jump from $20 to $75 per semester. Also, Tech is instituting a new fee – the Bond Retirement Fee ($90 per semester), which relates to the construction of the Steve S. Torres Residence Hall.

Vice President of Finance Lonnie Marquez presented the 2014-2015 budget, which was approved by the Board. The total budget is $184 million, which includes $37.4 million from state appropriations (which generally signifies the budget for the academic side). The budget allows for 3 percent pay increases for all employees. The board also approved increasing the minimum new-hire payscale to $8 per hour. Any employee making less than $8 an hour will be get a payraise to $8, plus the 3 percent pay increase.

Dr. Van Romero, Vice President of Research, reported that Air Force Research Laboratory is trying to include the Magdalena Ridge Observatory Interferometer in its upcoming budget. He said the observatory’s mission aligns with the Air Force mission. He and Ifan Payne of the MRO are working diligently to establish a long-term research collaboration with the Air Force.  Congress included $4 million in the 2014 Air Force budget for MRO. Romero said Tech is developing a contract that will move the money from the Air Force to New Mexico Tech.

The Observatory was featured in a five-minute news segment on KRQE-TV recently, which coincided with the first light captured by the New Mexico Exoplanet Spectroscopic Survey Instrument, or NESSI, which was recently installed at the Observatory’s 2.4-meter telescope. That instrument was purpose-built to characterize the atmospheres of planets orbiting other stars, which is compatible with the interferometer’s ability to survey planet-forming regions.

Melissa Jaramillo-Fleming, Vice President of Student and University Relations, reported that the Advancement Office is seeing an upswing in donations from alumni and private sources. Tech is working on securing a $500,000 donation that would bring back the summer mini-courses, which offer week-long intensive science classes to high school juniors and seniors. The Advancement Office is almost ready to publish a new webpage that features a “Give Now” button to make donations easier for private individuals.

Lopez said the New Mexico Tech Foundation is expecting two large private gifts in coming months -- $500,000 from a charitable organization in New York and $1.2 million, which will to go from the Charles F. Headen Trust, whose sole beneficiary is New Mexico Tech.

Jaramillo-Fleming also reported that fall 2014 new student applications continue to outpace all recent years. As of April 1, 279 incoming students have paid their application fee, which is the best indicator of how many freshmen and transfers intend to enter school at Tech in the fall. The same data from previous years were 258 in 2013 and 250 in 2012. She said Hispanic student enrollment has increased to 42 percent, a significant jump over last year.

Dr. Fred Phillips, representing the Faculty Senate, brought two issues to the Regents. He said faculty members are working with the Information Services Division to minimize the negative impacts of the pending change from internal email services to commercial support. He said the Faculty Senate is also working with the administration to address the payscale for summer and part-time instructors.

In her comments, board member Deborah Peacock congratulation Dr. Lopez for winning the Dream Builders Award from the National Hispanic Cultural Center at a banquet earlier in April.

The Regents learned that one master’s degree was conferred in February.

The Regents approved two expenditures for subscription services at the Skeen Library. Tech will pay $499,722 to EBSCO for academic journal subscriptions. Tech will pay $305,000 to Elsevier for academic journal subscriptions.

The Board approved four resolutions relating to the disposal of surplus equipment and property.

After an executive session, the Board approved a 3 percent salary increase for President Lopez and a list of goals for 2014-2015 for Dr. Lopez. Those performance goals are as follows:

  • Secure legislative approval to place a G.O. Bond on the November ballot, which would provide $15 million for a new chemistry and materials engineering building; secure voter approval in November for the.O. Bond issue.
  • Continue to work on the higher education formula, with the goal of amending it in a way that will recognize New Mexico Tech for its performance and not penalize it for its unique and focused mission.
  • Finish preparation for submittal of evaluation documents to the Higher Learning Commission and be ready for the on-site evaluation by the Commission in 2015.
  • Continue improvements in course completion and graduation rates among students at New Mexico Tech, with the specific goal of reaching or exceeding a 78 percent persistence rate.
  • Continue an aggressive fundraising campaign, with the goal of securing a 15 percent dollar growth in gifts over last year, along with identifying alternative ways of restructuring the Research Foundation to align it more closely with the goals of the Development Office for raising private funds.
  • Finish construction of Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources building, including having a dedication ceremony of the new facility and relocation of Bureau staff into the new facility.
  • Work consistently and effectively at improving faculty morale through more frequent and intense interaction with them.
  • Strive to reverse the loss of external sponsored funding, with the goal of increasing the dollar volume by 15 percent over last year.
  • Finalize and seek Board approval of a new strategic plan for New Mexico Tech.
  • Develop a succession plan which identifies all the critical administrative positions at New Mexico Tech, and identifies possible internal and external candidates who would be suitable to assuming these critical positions.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech