Notes from the Nov. 26, 2001 Regents Meeting

by George Zamora

ALBUQUERQUE, November 28, 2001 -- The New Mexico Tech Board of Regents recently was given an extensive overview of the university's soon-to-be- constructed Magdalena Ridge Observatory (MRO), a state-of-the-art optical observatory that will produce extremely detailed images of the far reaches of the universe.

At its November 26 meeting in Albuquerque, the board was told by Tech administrators and faculty members that, within two to three years, astronomers will be able to combine the power of the three telescopes at the $40 million MRO facility to conduct high-resolution studies of nearby planets and faraway stars.

Once completed, the observatory will be situated about 30 miles west of the New Mexico Tech campus in Socorro, along the main ridge of the Magdalena Mountains at an elevation of 10,600 feet above sea level, making it the fourth highest observatory site in the world.

At its monthly meeting, the board of regents also was briefed by New Mexico Tech President López on projected enrollment figures, which now indicate a slight increase in next year's tally, particularly with respect to the number of applications received so far this year, when compared to those received for the same time period last year at the university.

López further informed the regents that, due to the efforts and cost-saving suggestions made by a joint campus/community committee, the university's Children's Center will remain open, at least until December 2002.

Among the measures immediately being taken to ensure the child-care facility generates enough income to pay its own operating costs is a directive to hire a center director who would also serve as an adjunct faculty member with New Mexico Tech's psychology department.

The Tech President also told board members that New Mexico Tech and Sandia National Laboratories will soon sign two "memorandums of understanding," allowing the two entities to enter into a collaborative arrangement to jointly submit proposals for sponsored research and to offer classes to Sandia employees through the university's special degree programs in energetic materials via distance education methods.

Following another informational presentation made by Tech administrators to the board, the regents voted unanimously to name the New Mexico Tech Library's conference room, the "Don and Rosie Tripp Conference Room," after a prominent Socorro couple who are both Tech alumni and have been very supportive of the university over the years.

In other matters considered by the board, W. Dennis Peterson, Tech's vice president for finance and administration, told regents that after one-third of the current fiscal year had transpired, the university's overall budget "is in very good financial shape."

The regents also were informed of six recent contracts involving Restricted Fund Purchase Orders--each of which amounted to more than $100,000--which had been incurred through the university's Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center, International Law Enforcement Academy, and Institute for Complex Additive Systems Analysis.

Also during the meeting, New Mexico Educational Assistance Foundation President Elwood G. Farber presented a $2,000 to New Mexico Tech as the initial installment of an endowed scholarship fund which the foundation is establishing at the state-supported research university.

At its monthly meeting, the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents also approved the following measures:

After conducting the meeting as the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents, the members convened as trustees of the New Mexico Tech Employee Benefit Trust and granted Tech administrators stand-by authority to increase insurance premiums by 10 percent, only if need be, in January 2002. Tech vice president Peterson emphasized that such an increase would not be likely, but that the measure should be taken as a precaution just in case of an unforeseeable emergency occurring during a month when the trustees do not convene.