Notes from the Feb. 28, 2006 Regents Meeting

by George Zamora

SOCORRO, N.M., Feb. 28, 2006 – University administrators gave the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents a comprehensive review of the recently concluded State Legislative session, and by all accounts the state-supported research university in Socorro fared very well this year in garnering state funding for its operation and programs.

New Mexico Tech President Daniel H. López told the university governing board at its February 28th meeting that the 2006 session of the New Mexico State Legislature was “a very, very successful legislative session” in terms of funding for the university.

López cautioned, however, that state funding that was approved by state legislators for the next fiscal year was still in its preliminary stages, “since the Governor has not yet exercised his prerogatives,” referring to the fact that Governor Richardson has not yet approved the state budget, capital outlay bill, or other funding measures.

“All in all, I think we were extremely successful in getting the legislation passed in order to meet the university’s immediate needs, particularly with respect to infrastructure replacements and improvements,” López said.

The New Mexico Tech President provided several examples of university programs that garnered state funding to the Board of Regents, including the following:

In addition, López told the regents that New Mexico Tech will be getting its fair share of funding available through several higher education infrastructure projects approved by the State Legislature for state universities, including $60 million for dealing with water, utilities, and other infrastructure deficiencies, $20 million for Building Renewal and Replacement upgrades, and $20 million for an Endowed Chair Fund.

Funding for two major capital outlay projects on the New Mexico Tech campus — $1 million to complete the third-floor of the Fidel Student Services Center and $6.5 million to renovate the Kelly Building — will be included in General Obligation (GO) Bond issues to be considered by New Mexico voters during the upcoming General Election in November.

In other announcements made during the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents’ monthly meeting, President López informed the regents that the university had recently been inducted into the New Mexico Mining Hall of Fame.

López also mentioned that he had been recently appointed by Governor Richardson to the unofficial post of “Hydrogen Energy Point Person,” meaning that New Mexico Tech could stand to gain slightly more than a $1 million in state funding to develop and manage a hydrogen energy program for New Mexico.

During the board meeting, John Meason, director of the university’s Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center (EMRTC), presented an extensive overview of the Playas Training Center, located in Playas, N.M.

In official actions taken during its meeting, the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents held its annual election for officers and unanimously chose Richard Carpenter of Santa Fe as the board president and Jerry Armijo as the board secretary/treasurer.

Furthermore, the regents approved a list of academic degrees which had been granted to recent Tech graduates at the end of the 2005 Fall Semester, and also gave their approval to a service contract allowing the architectural firm of Van H. Gilbert to proceed with the preliminary phase for the planning and design of a new facility for the New Mexico Bureau of Geology & Mineral Resources.

In addition, the board of regents also was informed of four contracts New Mexico Tech had recently entered into through restricted funds purchases in excess of $100,000. Three of the contracts were related to the university’s management of the Southwest Regional Partnership for Carbon Sequestration, while the fourth contract was related to the school’s Magdalena Ridge Observatory (MRO) project.

During its monthly meeting, the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents was notified that sabbatical leaves had been granted to several Tech faculty members, including geophysics professor Richard Aster; materials engineering professor Gillian Bond; English professor Susan Dunston; psychology professor Mark Samuels; chemical engineering professor Donald Weinkaupf; and history professor Scott Zeman.

The New Mexico Tech governing board also presented Weinkaupf with a plaque in recognition of his having been named as one of the nation’s seven Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award winners. It was noted that Weinkaupf is the first faculty member among New Mexico’s research universities to receive this national award, which comes with a $60,000 unrestricted research grant.