Notes from the March 16, 2004 Regents Meeting


by George Zamora

SOCORRO, N.M., March 16, 2004 -- At its last monthly meeting, the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents approved a more than $1.5 million construction bid by an Albuquerque contractor to build an addition to the university.s IRIS/PASSCAL Instrument Center, which will house additional staff and equipment needed for a new continental-scale seismological mapping project.

ESA Construction, Inc. submitted the winning bid of $1,595,059 to construct the 11,000-square-foot add-on that will accommodate the newly established USArray geophysics research program, one of four major components of the National Science Foundation.s long-term EarthScope project.

Utilizing recent developments in sensor, recording, and telecommunications technology, USArray will spend the next decade instrumenting and mapping the contiguous 48 United States and Alaska with a moving 600-mile by 600-mile array of small, automatic earthquake recording stations that will migrate from west to east.

New Mexico Tech regents were told that filling the offices of the yet-to-be-built USArray Center with soon-to-be-hired employees will essentially double the current staff of about 20 geophysicists, engineers, and other professionals employed at the adjoining IRIS/PASSCAL Instrumentation Center.

At its March 16 meeting, the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents also was given an overview of other major construction projects in progress or soon to be started on the university campus and at affiliated sites throughout the state.

Joe Galon, director of planning at New Mexico Tech, presented timelines for 14 ongoing construction projects, including the USArray addition, scheduled to be completed by the end of this year, and the Joseph Fidel Student Services Center, scheduled to be completed by the end of Summer 2005.

In all, New Mexico Tech has about $60 million allocated to construction projects that will be completed over the next three years, Galon said.

In other official actions taken by the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents, an Independent Auditors Report of the university's 2002-2003 financial statements was officially accepted by the board. The audit report, performed by Neff & Ricci, LLP of Albuquerque, gave an "unqualified opinion," meaning that all financial statements presented by Tech were in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles.

New Mexico Tech President Daniel H. López also made several reports to the regents during their meeting, including an update on two concurrent accreditation processes underway at the university being monitored and reviewed by the NCA and ABET organizations.

Once the accreditation and review processes are completed, New Mexico Tech will be able to also use the information garnered to begin drafting a new strategic plan for the university sometime next year, López said.

In addition, López informed the board that New Mexico Tech had applied for and stood a good chance of being granted Title III and Title V federal funding to implement a dedicated program for Hispanic and minority student recruitment and retention.

The New Mexico Tech Board of Regents was also told that Scott Teare, associate professor of electrical engineering, recently was appointed chairman of Tech.s electrical engineering department.

Regents were also presented with a glowing review of the recently held New Mexico Science Olympiad, as well as a preview of April's New Mexico Science and Engineering Fair -- statewide events that are hosted each year by New Mexico Tech.

During their monthly board meeting, New Mexico Tech regents also elected new officers for the university governing body: Socorro resident Jerry Armijo was elected president, while Richard Carpenter of Santa Fe was elected secretary/treasurer.