Notes from the Feb. 22, 2001 Regents Meeting

by George Zamora

SOCORRO, N.M., February 22, 2001 -- Administrators at New Mexico Tech recently gave the university's governing board of regents an overview of a new curriculum offering at the school which leads to a bachelor of science degree in Information Technology (IT).

"The new IT program--which is ready to go this coming fall semester--will broaden our base of offerings and will be complementary to other areas of study at New Mexico Tech," said Peter Gerity, Tech's vice president for academic affairs.

With the establishment of its IT program, New Mexico Tech will join the ranks of an elite group of about half a dozen universities nationwide that offer a curriculum which deals specifically with the protection and surety of intricately complex layers of computer-driven systems and networks, some of which, like the Internet, reside entirely in cyberspace.

"We're all very excited about the addition of this new curriculum," Gerity told the regents, "and we're currently ramping up to actively promote Tech's IT program."

New Mexico Tech's IT curriculum will allow Tech students majoring in IT to pursue specific emphases in the course of their studies, including systems and network security, multimedia, telecommunications, and information economics.

The new undergraduate degree program was developed in conjunction with the establishment of the state-supported research university's new Institute for Complex Additive Systems Analysis (iCASA), a collaborative, interdisciplinary organization which will conduct basic and applied research, as well as training and education, in complex additive systems such as computer-linked information networks, international financial markets, and national infrastructures.

At its February 19 meeting, the board of regents also were briefed by Tech President Daniel H. López on the status of several legislative proposals being considered by the state legislature which directly affect New Mexico Tech, as well as the other state universities, including a seven percent across-the- board salary increase for university faculty and employees and a regent tuition funding adjustment to the funding formula for state universities.

López further informed the regents that several pending capital projects at Tech also are awaiting funding approval at the state legislature, including $3.2 million to construct a new Student Services Building on campus.

A $350,000 appropriation bill was enacted by the New Mexico State Legislature to provide start-up funds for iCASA and the related IT degree program at New Mexico Tech, the Tech president added, as was a $350,000 appropriation to establish a "Caves and Karst" research and learning center and museum in Carlsbad, which would be under the administration of New Mexico Tech.

The national research center will focus on studying occurrences of karst, which is a common topography that typically forms over limestone, dolomite, or gypsum deposits and is characterized by caves, sinkholes, and underground rivers, giving it a "Swiss cheese" appearance below the surface. Federal government funding which will be provided for the research center stipulates that matching funding be sought from state sources.

In other matters considered at its monthly meeting, the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents approved the following measures:

During its board meeting, New Mexico Tech regents also were informed that sabbatical leaves were granted to Tech physics professors Jean Eilek, Tim Hankins, David Raymond, and James Weatherall, as well as to Carole Yee, longtime English professor and associate vice president for academic affairs.

In addition, W. Dennis Peterson, Tech's vice president for finance and administration, told regents that after one-half of the current fiscal year had transpired, the university's overall budget "is generally in good financial condition, with no concerns to report."

After conducting the meeting as the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents, the members reconvened as trustees of the New Mexico Tech Employee Benefit Trust, and in that capacity, voted to immediately raise insurance premiums paid by Tech employees and retirees enrolled in the university's health and dental insurance plan by 20 percent, a measure driven by the auditor's adjustment to increase operating revenues in order to ensure that the self-insured indemnity plan retains a prudent level of reserves.

Attending the board of regents monthly meeting for the first time was new student regent Anthony Montoya, Jr., who was appointed to the position by Governor Gary Johnson and was recently confirmed by the New Mexico State Legislature.