Notes from the August 2000 Regents Meeting

SANTA FE, Aug. 8, 2000 -- New Mexico Tech will continue to be officially known as the "New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology."

After months of reviewing feedback submitted by various university constituents on a proposed name change, the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents voted unanimously to not proceed with plans to change the official name of the school.

New Mexico Tech, as the state-funded research university in Socorro is commonly known, will instead concentrate on increasing marketing and promotion efforts to develop better name recognition for the school among prospective students and employers throughout the state and nation.

During the board's August 6 meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico Tech President Daniel H. López told regents that evidence garnered this year from public hearings, e-mail correspondences, and surveys taken of Tech faculty, students, staff, and alumni revealed that an overwhelming majority were opposed to changing the name of the university.

"Although I'm leaving the final decision on whether or not New Mexico Tech should change its name entirely up to the board, I would recommend that the board not proceed with a name change," López said.

Prior to voting on the matter, Tech regents concurred that there was not enough support expressed in favor of a name change to warrant that such action be taken by the board.

"I had originally started out with high hopes of changing the name," Tech regent Robert E. Taylor told the group. "For me, the critical element was to include the word 'university' in the new name. . . . However, in anticipation of the board's deciding to go with the status quo, I'd like to suggest that we reshift our efforts to promoting New Mexico Tech as the West's premier science and engineering university."

The move to change New Mexico Tech's name was prompted in part by a suggestion proffered three years ago by a national marketing agency, which advised the school to change its name and include "university" in the new name as a part of an overall marketing strategy developed to attract more students and increase enrollment.

New Mexico Tech's name was last changed in 1951, when at the urging of school administrators and regents, the New Mexico State Legislature, initially, and state voters, ultimately, voted to change the name of the New Mexico School of Mines to the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, a name which eventually got shortened in common parlance to "New Mexico Tech."

In other matters considered at the Tech Board of Regents meeting, President López told the board members that enrollment projection figures for the upcoming fall semester at the university were "running about the same as last year's student enrollment numbers."

López also reported that the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching had recently classified New Mexico Tech among its "Doctoral/Research Universities--Intensive" category, which he described as "a very significant designation."

The New Mexico Tech President also introduced the university's new Vice President for Academic Affairs, Peter F. Gerity, to the board, along with Matthew K. Silva, the new director of Tech's Environmental Evaluation Group (EEG).

EEG is primarily tasked with conducting independent technical reviews of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) site near Carlsbad to ensure protection of the public health and safety of the people of New Mexico and to gauge the impact of WIPP on the state's environment.

In another report presented to the regents, Van Romero, Tech's Vice President for Research and Economic Development, summarized the status of recent federal funding for several research projects at New Mexico Tech.

Federal legislation, which includes $40.5 million of funding for research programs at New Mexico Tech and local research companies, currently are awaiting President Clinton's signature, Romero said.

Included in the legislative funding package is $7 million earmarked for preliminary construction costs involved in building the state-of-the-art Magdalena Ridge Observatory.

In other official actions taken during its monthly meeting, the Tech Board of Regents approved a five-year capital outlay plan and fiscal year 2000-01 capital projects priority list, which Tech administrators will forward to the Commission on Higher Education (CHE) and state legislators for their consideration at the next state legislative session.

At the top of the priority list was $1.6 million needed to construct a new Student Services Building on campus, followed by a $3.7 million request for a renovation project for the university's Jones Hall and Kelly Building.

New Mexico Tech administrators also got an okay from the regents to submit funding proposals to the CHE for several research and public services projects, including support for Tech's Master of Science Teaching (MST) programs, New Mexico Science Olympiad, and New Mexico Science and Engineering Fair.

Also included in the requests for additional state funds were plans to augment salaries of faculty in the university's key departments, an operating budget increase for the New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources, and seed money for a K-12 program which will allow classrooms around the state to remotely operate telescopes in Australia.

The New Mexico Tech Board of Regents also appointed Lisa Young to the faculty position of assistant professor of physics and Leslie A. Bentley as an assistant professor of theater arts.

In other official actions, the regents also approved amendments to the university's consulting and disabilities policies, authorized Tech representatives to transact business with the State Investment Council, and allowed changes to be made to the school's checking account system which would facilitate transfers from local to foreign banks for Tech researchers who are traveling abroad.

In addition, the Tech Board of Regents okayed an operating budget and distribution of revenues for the university's Marion and Irving Langmuir Quasi-Endowment during their meeting.