Notes from the Sept. 2000 Regents Meeting

by George Zamora

SOCORRO, N.M. September 19, 2000 -- Total enrollment at New Mexico Tech has increased 2.8 percent this fall semester, raising the overall headcount at the state-funded research university to 1,597 students.

New Mexico Tech President Daniel H. López in a report to the school's board of regents noted that the Socorro university's latest headcount had especially fared well in comparison to a general decline in enrollment at a number of other four-year universities.

"The figures I've seen for enrollment at universities throughout the state suggest that it's been a very competitive year in terms of student recruitment," López said.

"This is true on the national level as well, according to a recent issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education," he added.

During its September 18 board meeting, New Mexico Tech regents also were informed that the freshman retention rate at the university had improved slightly, with 72 percent of the last year's entering freshman class returning to Tech this fall.

In other actions taken during its monthly meeting, the Tech Board of Regents approved a resolution to change the official name of one of the university's research divisions from the "New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources" to the "New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources."

Bureau director Peter A. Scholle told regents that "Bureau of Mines" is actually a misnomer, since only 10 percent of the work the organization currently performs is related to mines. "In essence, we're the state geological survey," Scholle pointed out.

An official request from Tech regents and university administrators will now be forwarded to the state legislature, asking that the name change be enacted through legislation which would modify the state statutes that originally established the Bureau in 1927.

The New Mexico Tech Board of Regents also granted tenure to three current Tech staff members during its meeting: Van Romero, Tech's vice president for research and economic development, was accorded tenure as a professor of physics; Peter Gerity, Tech's vice president for academic affairs, was granted tenure as a professor of general engineering; and Nelia Dunbar, analytical geochemist with the New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources, was also awarded tenure in her current position.

Tech regents also approved the purchase of 41 new vehicles for the university at a total cost of $793,000.

In other official actions, a longtime New Mexico Tech faculty member who recently announced his retirement--Stephen Schery, professor of physics and research physicist--was conferred emeritus status by the university's governing board.

In addition, the regents were given a detailed report on a recent pre-campaign survey conducted by Cargill Associates on the feasibility of the university possibly conducting a capital fundraising campaign sometime in the near future.

An update on the specific goal of improving student quality of life, as outlined in New Mexico Tech's Strategic Plan, was later provided by Herbert Fernandez, Tech's vice president for institutional development.

The regents also voted to approve a request for proposal which allows Follet, Inc. to continue as the operator of the campus bookstore. Follet was the only company which submitted a bid for bookstore management services.

In a separate portion of the meeting, the Tech regents met as members of the New Mexico Tech Employee Benefit Trust and were informed that because of ongoing escalation of expenses incurred as a self-insurer, Tech employees enrolled in the insurance plan provided by the Benefit Trust will soon have to decide whether to reduce benefits provided and/or increase monthly insurance premiums by as much as ten percent.