Notes from the Nov. 2, 2000 Regents Meeting

by George Zamora

SOCORRO, N.M., Nov. 1, 2000 -- At the behest of its governing board, New Mexico Tech will embark on a multi-year fundraising campaign, beginning with a "silent campaign phase" which would raise start-up funds before committing to a longer-range major gifts campaign.

After considering several proposed options for implementing a capital campaign for the state-supported research university, the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents unanimously approved a measure yesterday which directs Tech administrators and staff to begin raising sufficient seed monies to further support a major gifts campaign, which may begin as early as next fiscal year.

In his presentation before the regents, Tech's vice president for institutional development, Herbert M. Fernandez, estimated that the silent campaign phase has the potential of bringing in between $200,000 and $400,000 in start-up funds for a much larger capital fundraising campaign.

In previous board of regents meetings, Cargill Associates, a private firm which specializes in managing and conducting fundraising campaigns, provided estimates which showed that New Mexico Tech may be capable of raising as much as $5 million through a full-blown, multi-year capital campaign.

Fernandez also informed the regents that mounting the silent campaign phase will require an organizational re-alignment of Tech's Advancement Office, along with a proposed additional budget of nearly $76,000, all of which will be provided from discretionary funds from the Tech President's Office.

In other matters considered by the board of regents at its October 31 meeting, Tech President Daniel H. López reported that the university's initial projections for new student enrollment for the next academic year are falling short of this year's numbers, particularly among students who have pre-paid their tuition and fees.

"This seems to be part of nationwide trend in which recruiting students for science and engineering schools is becoming more and more difficult," López said, "even in the face of all the job opportunities that are currently available in these areas."

Fernandez added that New Mexico Tech's student-recruitment efforts will be further enhanced this coming year by targeting individual schools in the Albuquerque area and through increased efforts in marketing and publicity, particularly with advertisements to run in Albuquerque radio and television stations and various high school newspapers.

During its board meeting, New Mexico Tech regents also were informed that a current research contract had allocated $241,000 toward the purchase of an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer--an instrument which will be employed in a research project which is exploring the use of certain plant species to remove heavy metals from soils.

In other actions taken during its monthly meeting, the Tech Board of Regents approved the appointment of Scott W. Teare to the full-time, tenure-track position of assistant professor of electrical engineering.

The regents also were informed that a longtime chemistry professor and former vice president for academic affairs, Carl J. Popp, would be taking a yearlong sabbatical.

In addition, W. Dennis Peterson, Tech's vice president for finance and administration, told regents that after one-quarter of the current fiscal year had transpired, the university's overall budget "is in sound financial shape."

Peterson went on to request and garner approval of specific adjustments to the budget, which will allow departments to carry forward their positive or negative balances, and which will transfer monies to purchase vehicles, as well as fund the newly formed Advising Resource Center.

An update on the specific goal of having New Mexico Tech becoming noted for excellent and productive instruction and research, as outlined in Tech's Strategic Plan, was provided by Van Romero, Tech's vice president for research and economic development.

Romero also outlined several improvements which were recently made in order to better track the specific metrics used in evaluating the implementation of the Strategic Plan.

The regents also voted to approve a written policy which spells out the specific processes and procedures for the board of regents to confer honorary degrees.

In a separate portion of the meeting, the Tech regents also met as members of the New Mexico Tech Employee Benefit Trust and voted to increase monthly insurance premiums by 13 percent, effective immediately, for all employees and retirees enrolled in the university's health insurance plan. In addition, co-payments for prescription drugs purchased under the plan also were increased to $20 per prescription filled.