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Regents Report: Enrollment, Construction and More

SANTA FE, N.M. August 19, 2014 – The New Mexico Tech Board of Regents heard updates on enrollment, construction and other plans at the regular meeting Saturday, August 2, in Santa Fe. The meeting followed the day-long regents retreat, which was Friday, August 1.

The incoming freshman class for the fall 2014 semester is about the same size as last year – about 350. The Residential Life Office has accommodated all housing requests this year – for the first time since 2010.

The renovation of the President’s Hall dormitory was completed after the building was closed for the previous school year. Built in 1939, President’s Hall required massive utility upgrades and general renovations. That project put 50 beds back into the university’s inventory, allowing all housing requests to be met.

University president Dr. Daniel H. Lopez reported that the years-long debate over the state’s higher education funding formula seems to be coming to a positive conclusion. He said the new formula will satisfy the two-year schools, the comprehensive universities, the research institutions, and the legislature, as well as the Higher Education Department.

Lopez also reported that Tech is hopeful that the 2014 general election will see positive results of the G.O. Bond vote, which would authorize funding for construction of a new chemistry building. Once that project is completed, Lopez said Tech aims to spend $4.4 million renovating Jones Hall, which would then be used by the Mechanical Engineering Department.

The current construction project – the Bureau of Geology building – is on schedule for completion by March 2015.

New Mexico Tech is also working on adding a new degree track in biomedical sciences and engineering. This interdisciplinary effort involves 10 different Tech departments and provides many opportunities for students in this area of critical growth. Lopez said this effort is a work in progress and will require a variety of state and university approvals.

Lopez told the Board of Regents that Tech is developing a succession plan for senior level administrators. He said specific individuals cannot be pre-selected, but efforts will be made to persuade certain people to be part of a pool of candidates for promotion. Lopez said he expects to fulfill his employment contract, which expires in June 2016. Vice President of Finance Lonnie Marquez is also approaching retirement, he said.  

The Board approved emeritus status for five professors who have either already retired or are soon to retire: Dr. Andy Sung of Computer Science, Dr. John Wilson and Dr. Kent Condie of Earth and Environmental Science, Dr. Steve Schaffer of Mathematics, and lab manager Barry Sabol.

Vice President of Research Dr. Van Romero reported that Sen. Tom Udall is putting together an independent panel to produce a study about the Waste Isolation Pilot Project in Carlsbad, which oversees an underground storage facility for radioactive waste. The make-up of that panel has not been finalized; however, New Mexico Tech will have representation, Romero said.

The Board set its preliminary meeting schedule for the coming year: Tuesday, Sept. 9; Thursday, Oct. 16; Friday, Nov. 21, Friday, Feb. 6; Friday, March 13; Sunday, April 12; and Friday, May 8.

Board member Jerry Armijo reported that the New Mexico Tech Foundation will soon see the transfer of assets from the Charles F. Headen Foundation, which donated significant real estate to Tech. Armijo said the Headen Foundation also owned oil wells that will produced significant revenue for Tech for years to come.

Meeting as the Employee Benefit Trust, the board heard the Trust has a surplus of about $600,000 for the fiscal year so far. However, the Trust used that income to repay a loan from the university. The Employee Benefit Trust administers Tech’s health insurance fund.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech