Notes from the Aug. 11, 2001 Regents Meeting

by Marty Jonas

SOCORRO, Aug. 13, 2001 -- New Mexico Tech President Daniel H. López began this month's regents meeting with a report on enrollment figures for the upcoming fall semester, which are somewhat lower than the previous year. Growth in graduate programs may bring enrollment closer to last year's figures, but López added that "After 15 years of enrollment fluctuations, the figures are difficult to predict, but we continue to maintain a decent level of enrollment."

In other matters, Tech's Board of Regents approved faculty appointments in six departments. Dr. Weide Chang joins the computer science department as an assistant professor. Dr. David P. Johnson was approved as an associate professor in mechanical engineering. As an assistant professor of history, Dr. Alexander V. Prusin replaces Dr. Gary Olsen in the humanities department. In the electrical engineering department, which is targeted for growth and for the addition of a master's program, Dr. Hasan Modir Shanechi joins the faculty as an associate professor. Dr. Christopher Watts comes to Tech as an associate professor of physics/research physicist. Watts brings with him a plasma field generator and an NSF contract. Dr. Junhang Dong, whose research interest is in fuel cell technology, was approved as assistant professor in chemical engineering.

The board also approved tenure for Dr. Richard Colbaugh, professor of mechanical engineering and professor of management. President López praised Colbaugh for being the driving force behind iCASA. Dr. Peter Gerity, Vice President for Academic Affairs agreed, adding, "As the lead scientist for iCASA, he has been willing to do whatever is necessary to keep the iCASA program moving forward."

During its August 11 meeting, the Tech Board of Regents also approved the 2002-2003 research and public service project funding requests, which totalled $2,405,216 for expansions and new requests, and included the addition of 11.23 FTE positions. Funding for these projects will be requested through the state legislature.

Ranked highest among the projects were funds for PRRC, the Master of Science Teaching (MST) Program, intramural athletics, and iCASA. López reported that these top projects were the most likely to be funded by the legislature. Other projects on the wish list include funding for EMRTC, a pilot program through the Graduate Fellows Teaching Program, NMBGMR, Science Fair/Olympiad, NM Bureau of Mine Inspection, Geophysical Research Center (GRC), the Cave and Karst Project and NM MESA.

In other official actions taken during the monthly meeting, the Tech Board of Regents approved a five-year capital outlay plan and fiscal year 2001-2002 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 legislative session.

At the top of the list is a bond approval for $4.4 million needed to complete funding for a new Student Services Center. Total cost for the project is $12 million, with $8 million already set aside for the building. Other requests include $3.72 million for the renovation of Jones Hall and Kelly Hall, and $3.4 million for infrastructure renovation, $500,000 for physical education planning funds, and $2.5 million for ADA compliance.

In another report presented to the regents, Denny Peterson, Tech's Vice President for Administration and Finance, summarized the figures for the year-end financial report. President López concurred that with a healthy year-end cash balance, Tech's financial situation is very strong.

Regent Randall Horn reported that the board had been informed of a potential sports program at Tech that might include nationally sanctioned sports in an effort to improve student life at New Mexico Tech. He moved that Tech refrain from further consideration of initiating sanctioned NCAA sports. The board approved this motion, yet encouraged the administration to consider other options for organized competitive sports at Tech to the extent that they lead to increased enrollment and retention, enhance student life, and have no negative impact upon the academic concentration of the school.