Notes from the Oct. 26, 2001 Regents Meeting

by George Zamora

SOCORRO, N.M., October 30, 2001 -- New Mexico Tech's planned Magdalena Ridge Observatory (MRO) stands to receive an additional $12 million in federal funding for the 2002-2003 fiscal year, Tech President Daniel H. López recently told the university's governing board of regents, after having returned from a successful lobbying trip to Washington, D.C. to garner further fiscal support for the state-of-the-art optical observatory.

"Considerable efforts have once again been mounted by U.S. Representative Joe Skeen, as well as U.S. Senator Pete Domenici, to secure adequate funding for the construction and operation of the MRO facility," López said.

In addition, the MRO also will receive budgetary managementassistance from the Office of Naval Research, the university president recently told regents at their monthly board meeting.

Construction of the MRO is scheduled to begin next year atop the Magdalena Mountains in central New Mexico, near New Mexico Tech's Langmuir Laboratory for Atmospheric Research.

Once completed, the observatory will be situated 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 October 26 meeting, the board of regents also were briefed by Tech President López on "very preliminary" enrollment figures which indicate a downturn in the numbers of both student applications received and paid applicants for next academic year, when compared to applications received last year from freshmen and transfer students during the same time period at the state-supported research university.

"We continue to struggle in this area," López conceded, "however, our graduate student enrollment continues to climb, which in terms of state funding makes a big impact in making up the difference."

López further informed the regents that, in an effort to avoid having to close down the university's Children's Center, he recently had appointed a joint campus/community committee to explore different options, with the goal of having the child-care facility generate enough income to pay its own operating costs.

The Tech Children's Center has operated under annual budget deficits for as long as eight years now, the president said.

After some discussion of the issue, the Tech Board of Regents voted to pass a resolution which recommends that President López and his administration continue to work to find a way to keep the on-campus Children's Center open.

In another presentation made by a Tech administrator to the board, the regents were given an update by Steve Bobinsky, director for advancement, on draft policies on naming, planned giving, and investments which will be generated through the university's upcoming capital fund-raising campaign.

The regents voted to accept all of the policies, along with a revision to the investment policy, which would put it in concurrence with a newly approved revision the board previously made to New Mexico Tech's general investment policy.

Marisa Wolfe, coordinator of Tech's community college, also gave the regents a brief overview of the university's community college, an educational division of Tech which she described as being "for the community and by the community."

Also during the meeting, State Land Commissioner Ray Powell presented a report on new activities and facilities initiated by the State Land Office on state-owned lands.

As New Mexico's designated steward of state lands, the State Land Office holds in trust more than nine million acres of public land, and is charged with distributing income generated by those properties to 22 beneficiaries, including New Mexico Tech and all the other state universities.

"New Mexico Tech is a crown jewel, not only for New Mexico, but for the entire nation," Powell emphasized several times during his talk.

In other matters considered at its monthly meeting, the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents 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 were given a status report.