Notes from the Sept. 25, 2001 Regents Meeting

by George Zamora

SOCORRO, September 26, 2001 -- New Mexico Tech President Daniel H. López had "some good news and some bad news" in his report on the university's Fall 2001 enrollment figures: undergraduate enrollment at Tech has decreased 9.2 percent in comparison to last fall semester; however, a 7.1 percent increase in graduate students and a 39.4 percent increase in special students at the state-supported research university has kept total enrollment figures stable at 1,620 students, only four less than the final tally posted last academic year.

At the September 25 meeting of the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents, López also informed regents that Tech administrators have drafted a three-year strategy to increase enrollment at the university, a plan which includes allocating more resources to purchase names of potential students, target specific states for recruiting students, place more emphasis on graduate student recruitment, and augment the school's advertising budget.

In addition, López pointed out that current enrollment statistics also show a slight increase in student retention with 73 percent of all the members of last year's freshman class returning for their sophomore year at New Mexico Tech.

After conducting the meeting as the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents, the members reconvened as trustees of the New Mexico Tech Employee Benefit Trust, and in that capacity, voted to raise insurance premiums paid by Tech employees and retirees enrolled in the university's health and dental insurance plan by 10 percent effective October 8.

The measure, which trustees said they "reluctantly approved," was driven by increases in medical and prescription drug claims filed over the last six months through the self-insured indemnity plan.

New Mexico Tech administrators cautioned the trustees that escalating medical costs may require yet another 10 percent increase in premiums as early as January 2002 in order to ensure that the health plan continues to remain solvent.

Because of recurring increases in health insurance premiums, Tech administrators also stated that they are currently investigating other health-care options which are available for employees, including managed health care, HMOs, and other conventional medical insurance programs.

In other actions taken during its monthly meeting, the Tech Board of Regents approved the recent appointment of T. David Burleigh as an associate professor of materials engineering at the university, and granted emeritus status to James Corey, a recently retired professor of English, after 27 years of service.

Arthur Guenther, professor of engineering, active member of the scientific community in the State of New Mexico since 1957, and longtime supporter of New Mexico Tech, also was granted emeritus status.

In addition, the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents were given two informational briefings: one on the university's Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center and another on Tech's Team FRACTAL project, a student-developed experiment conducted this past summer in zero-gravity conditions aboard NASA's famed KC-135A "Weightless Wonder" aircraft.

In a financial report covering the first two months of the current fiscal year, W. Dennis Peterson, Tech's vice president for administration and finance, told the board that the school's finances and revenues were "in great shape."

The regents also were informed that a contract was recently awarded by New Mexico Tech to Graphic Connection in Albuquerque to supply the International Law Enforcement Academy with uniforms for its trainees. The training academy, which recently opened in Roswell, is managed under the direction of New Mexico Tech.