Regents Minutes - October 2013

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

Board of Regents

1:30 p.m., Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fidel Center, Ballroom A
New Mexico Tech Campus
Socorro, New Mexico 


The New Mexico Tech Board of Regents convened at 9:15 a.m., with Board of Regents Chairman Richard N. Carpenter presiding. Other Board members present were Regent Debra Hicks, Regent Deborah Peacock, and Student Regent Israel Rodriguez-Rios. Regent Jerry Armijo was absent. University administrators, staff, and guests who were also present included:

1. Proof of Meeting Notice.  The meeting was called to order at 9:15 a.m. by Chairman Carpenter after the President affirmed that proper notice had been given.

2. Approval of Agenda.  Regent Peacock moved to approve the Agenda as presented. Regent Hicks seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously. Chairman Carpenter announced that an Executive Session would take place as scheduled.

3. Minutes for September 2013. The Chair noted that the original Minutes sent to Regents had been revised to show the presence of Dr. Sonnenfeld at the meeting. Regent Peacock moved to accept the Minutes as amended, followed by a second from Regent Rodriguez-Rios. The motion passed unanimously.

4. Announcements. 

Enrollment Updates.  V.P. Jaramillo-Fleming prefaced her report by introducing Tony Ortiz as the new Director for Admission, succeeding the retired Mike Kloeppel. She reported fall numbers as follows: 1,604 undergraduate students, 530 graduate students for a total headcount of 2,134, along with other statistics, including an increase of close to 3 percent in fall-to-fall retention. It was reported that Student and University Relations was working with Academic Affairs to improve retention. In addition, female students are being retained at a higher rate than males – 86.08 percent for females; 73 percent for their male counterparts, with their minority cohort close behind. Regent Hicks commented that the numbers for females at New Mexico State University are tracking similarly, adding that females tend to be more mature. There followed a discussion on factors that affect graduation rates, such as the nationwide phenomenon that today’s students are not working as hard as those from past generations, socio-political factors affecting higher education, six-year graduation norms for engineering majors, and students carrying lighter course-loads. Tech’s support services will make a difference over the long haul, noted the President, adding that he had “great hope” the University would continue on its present trajectory.

ABET Review.  V.P. Gerity announced “an excellent visit” from the accreditation agency for the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. While no final report has been issued, Dr. Gerity said he anticipated a very good outcome, and that the exit interview went extremely well. However, he cautioned that a department with six faculty serving some 400 students will be a factor when all engineering departments come up for a full review in 2016.

Accreditation.  Dr. Dezember’s report dovetailed into the discussion on graduation rates. She noted that a “framing statement” developed for the Higher Learning Commission explains why so many New Mexico Tech students graduate in six years, with students’ math competency upon admission an important aspect. Already, students in the Living Learning Communities are posting higher retention levels for Math 103 and 104 than those outside the LLCs, with hard data to follow soon. The process has revealed inconsistencies and areas that need attention, she said. “Everything we write has to be supported,” Dr. Dezember added. Discussion followed on how the reaccreditation process, which includes a content management system, feeds into developing a new Strategic Plan; and how the process has elicited information critical to defining issues such as quality, persistence and completion rates; i.e., the University’s 136-credit-hour engineering programs have zero electives.

Funding Formula Update.  The President told Regents he hesitated to get them involved in what is a highly political process, and agreed with a Board suggestion that he develop a set of “talking points” on the issue. Thus far, he said, the Secretary of Education has refused to meet with the Council of University Presidents, which is proposing an alternative funding formula. So far, there is no agreement. Discussion moved to the Governor’s proposal that universities carry a risk load of 5 percent, to which both the President and Dr. Sonnenfeld voiced opposition. Regent Hicks said she agreed with the President that there are ways to still make strides without layoffs, but noted that the University “has to bring something to the table. You can’t just say, ‘we can’t do it.’” President López said he wants the Board and faculty to understand that the situation is difficult and highly complex, while Chairman Carpenter closed discussion by saying the risk factor won’t disappear. “The best we can do is compromise, and earlier better than later,” he said.

Capital Outlay Request. New Mexico Tech’s request for capital funds to build a new Chemistry building was ranked third among 22 requests by the Higher Education Department. The President said Tech needs to work with the Governor’s administration to secure adoption of the capital funding, as recommended by the Higher Education Department, next year.

NM Distinguished Public Service Award. President López announced that Regent Peacock would be receiving this award at a dinner next month in Albuquerque. The President, who chairs the state program, recused himself from the actual voting, adding that Ms. Peacock was chosen unanimously as one of 10 individuals to receive the 2013 award. She received a round of applause and congratulations.

Sabbatical Leave.  Regents were informed of sabbatical leave for Dr. Alexander V. Prusin, Associate Professor of History, for 2014.

Faculty Senate. Dr. Sonnenfeld said he was pleased to report that an issue discussed at the October Faculty Senate meeting on improved standards for transfer students was already on the agenda for today’s meeting, proving the system works. He also shared with Regents an “American Association of University Professors Policy Document: Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure,” noting the policy was “what the best schools do.”

Other. Dr. Meason announced that EMRTC is renewing its relationship with the New Mexico National Guard (NMNG) by using the research facility’s assets and expertise to develop a local training center. The move creates a new funding stream for EMRTC, with revenues to remain in-state. Eventually, there is a potential for federal funds to be directed to the NMNG to built additional assets.

Public Comment.  None.

New Admission Requirements for Transfer Students.  The Faculty Senate Academic Standards and Admission Committee recommended that all transfer students must qualify for placement into Math 103 (pre-calculus) in order to be admitted to Tech, rather than Math 101 (college algebra, current practice). Dr. Andrei Zagrai, committee chair, reported that results from an in-depth study of 14 transfer student applicants placing into Math 101 showed only a 3.7 percent persistence rate. The President recommended approval, rhetorically asking whether the investment in these underprepared students makes sense, and whether or not admitting math-deficient students to New Mexico Tech was a disservice to them. Regent Rodriguez-Rios moved approval, followed by a second from Regent Hicks. During discussion, Regent Peacock asked why the Board was asked to approve a segment of the University Catalog, when the Catalog itself has never come before Regents for formal approval. V.P. Gerity replied that most Catalog changes are procedural, and this one referred to admission requirements. The motion passed unanimously.
Degree Conferrals for September 2013.  Regents were informed of two Master of Science degrees granted in September.

Financial Analysis for September 2013.  In his first quarterly report for FY14, Mr. Marquez noted that revenues and expenditures are tracking normally. Playas and IERA deficits remain, with several contracts for the latter due to expire. Student and University Relations is dealing with a deficit in scholarship revenue, which has not yet been drawn down from several sources. Regent Peacock moved to accept the report. Regent Hicks seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously.
Budget Adjustment Request (BAR) Unrestricted FY14.  Mr. Marquez presented the first BAR for the current fiscal year, and recommended approval for:

Regent Hicks moved for approval, followed by a second from Regent Peacock. The motion passed unanimously.

Unrestricted Funds Purchased Exceeding $250,000.  Mr. Marquez presented two items for Board approval regarding procurements for capital projects. He recommended approving a contract to Bradbury Stamm to build the new Bureau of Geology building. The Albuquerque firm submitted the lowest of six bids, and ranked highest in points by the selection committee. Regent Hicks moved for approval, but later amended her motion to include $1.4 million in gross receipts taxes, for a total bid award of $20,929,834. Regent Rodriguez-Rios seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously. Company president Cynthia Schultz thanked the board, adding that the company was excited to return to the New Mexico Tech campus. Regent Peacock noted that the company is highly involved in community and philanthropic activities. Next, V.P. Marquez recommended that the Board approve a contract with White Sands Construction Co. of Alamogordo to renovate President’s Hall. In response to a question from Regent Hicks, Miguel Hidalgo explained that the process was handled as a Request for Proposals, which allowed the University to select a company based on specific criteria. Regent Rodriguez-Rios moved to approve a $1,345,775.63 contract with the Alamogordo company, the low bid. Regent Hicks seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.

Notification of Procurement Award – Restricted Funds.  The Chairman skipped this information-only item, noting that Regents had the data in their meeting book. (Note: New Mexico Tech notifies Regents of restricted funds purchases in excess of $100,000; in this case, for three awards for PRRC and one for EMRTC.)

Property Items Resolution, Reference NMSA 1978, 13-6-1.

13.  Smoke Free Policy.  Mr. Marquez recommended approval for a revised Smoke Free Policy for New Mexico Tech that defines tobacco smoke-free areas on campus. Regent Peacock moved to approve the policy with the correction of a typo on the second page (“cooperation” was misspelled). Regent Rodriguez seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.

Individual Board Member Comments.   Regent Rodriguez-Rios reported he is working with the Student Government Association to propose a tuition increase to benefit underpaid employees and professors. He also supports separating tuition from the Lottery Scholarship. The problem, President López noted, is that the state has coupled tuition with the amount of the award, and as tuition increases, so do awards, which is financially unsustainable because revenues are not growing to keep up with tuition increases; and, as such, there will never be enough funds to cover 100 percent of tuition cost over time. Regent Hicks reiterated her interest in having the Minutes posted online for timely reviews. Regent Hicks asked Jaramillo-Fleming to clarify ACT scores for entering freshmen. The V.P. reported that 26 is the average ACT score for incoming freshmen between Fall 2009 and Fall 2013, which is equivalent to an SAT score of between 1170 and 1190. Applicants are admitted on the basis of one or the other. Regent Peacock requested that fund-raising efforts be reported at every meeting. Noting that the dollar amount doesn’t vary much month to month, Jaramillo-Fleming offered to make quarterly reports. Chairman Carpenter’s comments also centered on fund raising and alumni relations. He noted the need to make clear the relationship between money-raising and money-holding, and to clarify the role of Alumni Association in these efforts. Members don’t feel welcome volunteering, “and I think we should accommodate them,” he said. The Chair also offered to be a part of the process, if needed. Jaramillo-Fleming replied that efforts are under way to secure an MOU with the Alumni Association, adding that part of the issue is re-establishing the purpose of the Advancement Office.

New Business.  None.

Employee Benefit Trust.  Regents recessed the meeting at 11:29 a.m. to convene as the Benefit Trust. Mr. Marquez reported that the trust continues to struggle as the University proposes a premium increase of 16 percent. Debbie Ranger, administrator for New Mexico Tech’s health plan, noted that changes will be implemented Jan 1, 2014. Employees can choose from three medical plans, details of which will be explained at a Benefits Fair next month, in addition to a new component focused on prevention that could result in a $250 credit to the deductible. The Affordable Health Care Act will not impact the trust, noted Mr. Marquez. Michael Olguin Sr., th e third-party administrator, added that anyone can go on the exchange, but they will not be entitled to employer contributions. In response to a question on whether the University will lose employees to the federal program, Ms. Ranger replied: “In my opinion, if they cannot afford your health plan today, they can’t afford it next year,” adding that some Tech employees may qualify for federal tax credits or subsidies. Ms. Salome noted that both Ms. Ranger and Mr. Olguin will be at the Benefits Fair for EMRTC employees on Nov. 11, and for the main campus on Nov. 12. In response to a question from the Chair, Mr. Marquez said the premium rate increase will address current expenditures and will start paying off the Trust deficit. Regent Peacock moved to approve the three changes to the health plan, comprising the premium increase, changes to the plan and the new prevention program. Regent Hicks seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously.

Executive Session, NMSA 1978, Sec 10-15-1 (H)(2) (To provide information on legal matters).   Regents adjourned the meeting of the Benefit Trust and reconvened as the Board of Regents at 11:51 a.m. Following a unanimous roll call vote on a motion by Regent Hicks and a second by Regent Rodriguez-Rios, Regents went into executive session to consider legal matters.

Reconvene in Open Session and Take Final Action, if any, on Such Limited Personnel Matters Which Shall be Acted Upon in Open Session Following Conclusion of the Closed Session.  At the conclusion of the executive session at 12:03 p.m., the meeting adjourned, and the Chairman announced in open session that no actions were taken in executive session.

Adjournment. There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 12:04 p.m.