Notes from the April 2000 Regents Meeting

by George Zamora

SOCORRO, N.M., April 24, 2000 -- At their meeting on April 17, 2000, he New Mexico Tech Board of Regents approved a measure which will increase the minimum high school grade point average (GPA) required for entering first-year students at the state-supported research university.

The new admission requirement of a minimum 2.5 GPA (out of a possible 4.0) was raised from a previous minimum requirement of a 2.0 GPA and now places New Mexico Tech's admission requirements on par with peer higher-education institutions around the state.

During last week's April 17 board meeting, Tech regents were told that the university's Faculty Council voted to "strongly recommend" an increase in the minimum GPA requirement, along with the inclusion of special procedures for evaluating "borderline cases" in which entering students fail to meet the new admission standards.

"I also support this upgraded GPA requirement for all entering Tech students," New Mexico Tech President Daniel H. López said, "especially because of two negative impacts associated with the previous lower GPA requirement: One, I believe we were sending the wrong message to prospective students who had done well in high school and were shopping around for a university which would provide them with a quality education in a competitive environment. And, two, I fear that we may have been inadvertently setting up some marginal students for failure as they are later faced with New Mexico Tech's rigorous curricula.

"I feel very good about correcting these types of situations by raising our own admission standards," López added.

The new minimum GPA requirement is projected to affect only a small number of entering students at New Mexico Tech: The basic profile of last year's freshman class at the university, for instance, showed that slightly more than 85 percent of those 284 newly enrolled students came to Tech with an average high-school GPA of 3.0 or higher. Less than five percent of Tech's 1999 Freshman Class entered with a 2.5 GPA or lower.

In other actions taken during its monthly meeting, the Tech Board of Regents approved the construction of a music room addition to the university's Macey Conference Center.

The New Mexico Tech Board of Regents also made two new faculty appointments and several promotions of current Tech faculty members during its meeting.

Promoted to the tenured position of associate professor of psychology was Robert Holson, while three other Tech faculty members were promoted to the status of full professor: Richard C. Aster, professor of geophysics; John McCoy, professor of materials engineering; and David J. Westpfahl, professor of astrophysics.

Tech regents also approved the appointments of new faculty members Mary Dezember to the tenure-track position of assistant professor of English and Oliver W. Wingenter to the tenure-track position of assistant professor of chemistry.

In other official actions, two longtime New Mexico Tech faculty members who recently announced their impending retirements--Alan R. Miller, professor of metallurgy and chair of the general engineering program, and Alan Sharples, professor of mathematics--were granted emeritus status by the university's governing board.

In addition, the regents were informed that several new department chairs had been appointed at the university, including Brian Borchers, chair of the mathematics department; Lynn H. Deming, chair of the humanities department; Thomas W. Engler, chair of the petroleum and chemical engineering department; Kenneth R. Minschwaner, chair of the physics department; and Navid Mojtabai, chair of the mineral engineering department.

The regents also voted to approve an update to the New Mexico Tech Property Manual, which would better align the university's property control procedures with new state requirements, and okayed a new Student Association Constitution which had recently been amended by the school's student government organization.