Notes from the April 17, 2007 Regents Meeting

by George Zamora

SOCORRO, N.M., April 18, 2007 — Meeting on the wake of the Virginia Tech campus shootings, the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents dedicated a major portion of its regular monthly meeting yesterday to a lengthy discussion centering on improving security and emergency response measures that are already in place on the Socorro university campus.

After observing a moment of silence in remembrance of the Virginia Tech students and faculty who were killed, members of New Mexico Tech’s governing board were briefed by university administrators on what could be done at the state-supported research university to avert potentially life-threatening situations on campus, or at least minimize injuries and fatalities which might result from such incidents.

New Mexico Tech President Daniel H. López pointed out that the university currently has a crisis management team comprised of key staff members, as well as an emergency procedures manual “which serves as a practical guide for handling any kind of eventuality.”

The large document, which incorporates more than 400 pages of pertinent information, was recently revised and codified, López told the regents, but, because of its nature, will continually be improved and reworked as new data are garnered.

“Certainly, different situations require different responses,” López said, “and each incident will have its own level of complexity and difficulty, but we need to always be working hard on assessing these types of tragic incidents and addressing all the problems involved, all within the context of a free and open society.”

New Mexico Tech regent Abe Silver, Jr. suggested that the university adopt staging regular emergency drills to improve response to such incidents, but cautioned that any long-range plans the university will make in these areas will undoubtedly have to be closely coordinated with all the other state universities and agencies.

“The whole State of New Mexico is going to have to get involved in order to properly coordinate plans to handle these kinds of situations,” Silver said.

In other reports presented to the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents, Tech President López informed the board that a current analysis on the number of students applying for admission for the 2007 Fall Semester at the university is projecting a slight increase in enrollment for the upcoming academic year.

“In particular, our total for paid applicants, so far, is up significantly — from 229 at the same time last year to 243 this year,” López said.

President López also mentioned that a three percent tuition increase was imminent at New Mexico Tech, and is scheduled to be voted on by the board of regents at its next monthly meeting.

“We met with students last night at an open forum to discuss this impending tuition increase, and the majority of those attending supported the increase, while a few were neutral about it,” López said. “However, there was no one voicing any strong objections to it.”

In addition, López reported that Tom Kieft, professor of biology at New Mexico Tech, has been reassigned as a chair of his department, while math professor Anwar Hossain was recently appointed chair of the Tech Department of Mathematics.

After convening in an executive session during its meeting to discuss legal and personnel matters, the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents re-convened in open session and approved a formal request from the board to the New Mexico Tech Research Foundation to provide a $100,000 annuity each year to Tech President López for the remainder of his current employment contract, which expires in 2011.

In other official actions taken during the meeting, the board of regents voted to approve a posthumous degree for the late Michael C. Hogan, a New Mexico Tech senior who died as a result of injuries sustained in a hiking accident earlier this semester.

The New Mexico Tech Board of Regents also granted tenure to Lewis A. Land, a geohydrologist employed by the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources at the National Cave and Karst Research Institute in Carlsbad, which are both research divisions affiliated with New Mexico Tech.