Regents Minutes - September 2011

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology Board of Regents

1:30 p.m., September 23, 2011

Joseph A. Fidel Center

Socorro, New Mexico


The New Mexico Tech Board of Regents convened at 1:30 p.m., with Chairman Richard N. Carpenter presiding. Other Board members present were Regent Jerry Armijo, Regent Deborah Peacock, Regent Abe Silver, Jr. and Regent Omar Soliman. University administrators, staff, and guests who were also present included:

Daniel H. López

Lala Garcia

John Meason

Thomas Guengerich

Van Romero

Lonnie Marquez

Mark Adams

Suzanne Barteau

Mary Dezember

Greer Price

Melissa Jaramillo

Valerie Kimble

Robert Lee

Brian Borchers

1. Proof of Meeting Notice:  The meeting was called to order at 1:34 pm by Board of Regents Chairman Richard Carpenter, after the board confirmed that proper public notice had been given through newspaper ads and emails sent to media outlets.

2. Approval of Agenda:  The agenda was approved on a motion by Regent Omar Solimon and seconded by Regent Jerry Armijo. Dr. Daniel H. López informed the Board that items 16 and 17 were not necessary because there was no need for an Executive Session. Motion passed unanimously.

3. Minutes:  The Minutes of the August 5, 2011 meeting were approved with one correction made by Mark Adams, Board Attorney, under the item related to the bond issue, that the third line after “transaction” be amended to read, “ . . . and adopt the proposed sale resolution, a copy of which is attached to and incorporated by reference.” Regent Armijo moved to approve the Minutes of August 5, 2011 as amended. Regent Deborah Peacock seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

4. Announcements

Chairman Carpenter called on President López for announcements, and he outlined the following, after the Board agreed to change the dates for the October and November meetings, as requested by Regent Peacock. It was agreed to change the October meeting from Oct. 21 to Oct. 17, and from Nov. 18 to Nov. 21. It was noted that the November meeting will be a joint meeting in Albuquerque with the New Mexico Tech Research Foundation:

Enrollment Updates:  Dr. López briefed the Board on “very preliminary” enrollment numbers for the Spring 2012 semester. Applications are up, but paid applications are down quite a few points. He said it was too early for concern, and explained to the Board that the new funding formula for higher education is not as dependent on enrollment as the current formula.

Washington, DC Update:  Dr. López reported that the scene in the nation’s capital has changed quite a bit with the absence of earmarks, an area in which New Mexico Tech had been successful in the past. New Mexico Tech started changing its strategy several years ago to building relationships with individual agencies. Dr. Van Romero, V.P for Research and Economic Development, said the biggest concern is the First Responder program. Tech will respond to a Request for Proposals which could result in $20 million for the program next year, if successful. The Magdalena Ridge Observatory (MRO) has been hurt the most, Romero continued. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is willing to provide funding, but first needs to know where it stands budget-wise. University of New Mexico Hospital also is feeling the bite, he said.

Legislative Update:  Dr. López reported that the special session currently under way probably will end with several bills getting passed; but whether they are signed or not, the bills won’t affect New Mexico Tech. The state may end up not appropriating the total available severance tax funds during the current special session; and, as a result, there will be a significant balance of severance tax funds available for appropriation in January, along with a large General Obligation Bond capacity also available for appropriation. GOB capacity may also be quite large due to the failure of the Legislature to enact a GOB appropriation last regular session. López added that Tech may try for the entire amount of funding for the new Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources complex next session. 


The President’s Golf Tournament netted $200,000, including $20,000 of in-kind contributions, which López called “a healthy balance” for the scholarship program. The President said he has been “very frugal” in disbursing these funds. Melissa Jaramillo-Fleming, Vice President for Student and University Relations, reviews applications and makes recommendations in awarding golf tournament scholarships. López said he generally approves her recommendations or, in some cases, lowers the amount of the request.

López noted that the jobs fair was very successful, with 100 individuals representing 40 companies who met with 650 students. He noted that quite a few alumni return to campus as company recruiters.

In other good news, the President reported on a new federal grant from the Department of Education, and recognized Dr. Brian Borchers, new Faculty Senate Chair; and Dr. Mary Dezember, new Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. Dr. Dezember explained that New Mexico Tech now has been awarded the third of three grant proposals submitted through the Office for Academic Affairs, including a ~$13.2 million grant through the Promoting Postbaccalaureate Opportunities for Hispanic Americans (PPOHA) program. New Mexico Tech is eligible for these funds as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. The grant will be dispensed over a five-year period and will benefit all students. Dr. Dezember said 22 classrooms will be converted to Smart Classrooms. Tech also was notified on Sept. 19, 2011 of a $4.3 million, four-year grant to be used for more Smart Classrooms under an articulation agreement with NMMI and N.M.Junior College, and directly related to STEM. Borchers was the lead on that grant. López, responding to a question from Regent Carpenter, noted that New Mexico Tech has a persistence rate of 72 percent, short of its goal of 75 percent. However, Tech has the highest six-year graduation rate in New Mexico at 48-49 percent, compared with 44 percent for UNM and 43 percent for NMSU. Northern New Mexico has the lowest rate at 17 percent. Tech is doing reasonably well in the state, and only marginally nationally, said López, adding that Georgia Tech has a six-year graduation rate of 80 percent. The new funding formula is driving us to try to improve persistence and graduation rates, he added, which is what the Legislature is looking for. In response to a question from Regent Armijo, Dezember said that 26 percent of students must be low-income for an institution to quality as a low-income serving institution. Romero noted that Tech had that status before it became a Hispanic-Serving Institution. “These are wonderful programs,” noted Regent Armijo. “Keep up the good work.”

In response to a question from Regent Carpenter, López said the Playas Training and Research Center (PTRC) has more work than it can handle right now, but he has no idea for long-term. EMRTC Director Dr. John Meason reported no significant change in level of activity; but coming up are activities related to Special Operations and Search and Rescue. Romero said one issue is the funding timeline, with the facility just now receiving FY11 monies. Research won’t see the effect of FY12 funding until August or September 2012; but can see it coming and adjust, if necessary.

López returned to the subject of the new funding formula, noting that remuneration will be based on course completion, and not course enrollment. New Mexico Tech has a very liberal drop-policy, and he has asked Dr. Peter Gerity, Vice President for Academic Affairs, about the need to tighten drop-policy requirements. Even though Tech is showing some growth in FTEs, it also shows, under the new funding formula calculations a 5.4 percent drop in FTEs, because the new formula measures change in persistence, and not just absolute FTE growth. It gets complicated, López said. Within a six-year time frame, the formula averages the first three years and the second three, with a positive or negative credit for the difference. The old methodology was based on the same principles, which resulted in four-year schools losing money to the two-year schools. The Legislature will decide what to adopt from the Higher Education Department, which has the sole authority to devise the formula, will finalize a funding formula and issue it by Oct. 15, 2011. The Legislature will then decide on the level of funding for Higher Education; and is also expected to apply the new formula with new funding drivers. In response to a question from Regent Carpenter, López said that if held to a flat budget, some schools will be on the verge of bankruptcy. Regent Carpenter asked if research universities could make adjustments to the old formula instead. They could, López responded, but the problem is that the investment in the new formula is such that there is no reason to adjust the old formula. It will do what it is supposed to do if properly funded, he said, adding, “I believe they’ll come up with something fair.” Under the new formula, points will be awarded for course completion. If a math course is good for 1.0 points, and a word-processing course is rated at 0.8, the .2 differential is not enough for a nine-month course that mandates a laboratory and a Ph.D. to teach it. One of the problems, López said, is that the decision-makers in Santa Fe are not as well versed in the technical details of such complex formulas.

The President shared with the Board a complimentary letter from Cambridge University regarding the MRO; a list of the companies at the jobs fair; and a report from the Chronicle of Higher Education showing that New Mexico Tech ranked third best for the salary potential of its graduates, behind State University of New York-Maritime College and Colorado School of Mines. NMSU was the only other New Mexico college, way down in the list. New Mexico Tech adds value, López said, which is the story he keeps trying to bring to the attention of the Legislature. Public Information Officer Thom Guengerich has been working with Regent Peacock on getting an article in Business Weekly. Carpenter added that there must be some way to get this information to students, that it would be very relevant information for students to apply to New Mexico Tech and stay here.

In the final discussion under Announcements, Information Services Division Director Joe Franklin was asked to address a concern raised at the August meeting by Regent Solimon regarding the slowness of Tech’s Internet services. Franklin explained that there are external and internal pathways. Tech’s external part ran at 60MB/sec in 2008; today it runs at 500MB/sec both north and south, with 6GB/sec on the research network. ISD has spent $450,000 to replace data switches, and is in the process of building a logical ring with 10MB of speed internally. ISD also has replaced many firewalls, for faster piping on campus; is replacing power systems in data centers; and wiring and converting residence halls to wireless. There are a lot of changes down the road, he said. Franklin invited Regent Solimon to visit ISD, and that he would keep him apprised of further progress.

5. Public Comment:  None.

6. Degree Conferrals for August 2011:  López reported that the only degree conferred was a Master of Engineering Management (MEM).

7. Financial Analysis for August 2011:   As reported by Lonnie Marquez, Vice President for Administration and Finance, revenues are slightly ahead of budget, and I&G expenditures somewhat higher than budgeted, making for a stable financial standing. Marquez also said he is working closely with Charles Cormier, Dennis Morrison and Meason on Playas. López said that Meason “has the right people in place,” and that he had met with the EMRTC head regarding both personnel and operations. One outstanding issue is having too many people on direct contracts, which can be an accounting nightmare. Meason added that he was “very hopeful” with the change in how contracts are negotiated.

8. Budget Adjustment Request (BAR) Unrestricted #2:  The Board voted unanimously to approve a BAR regarding actual tuition versus projected tuition, on a motion made by Regent Armijo and seconded by Regent Peacock.

9. Research and Public Service Projects Requests:  The President recommended that the Board approve the list of RPSP requests, which are the same as last year. If adjustments are necessary, directions will come from the Higher Education Department, López said. It was noted before the vote that Gov. Martinez retained Terrence Foreback as State Mining Inspector; he initially was appointed by former Gov. Richardson. Marquez said Foreback’s salary pays the overhead rate on several contracts he has. Regent Silver moved to approve the RPSP list; Regent Solimon seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously.

10. Restricted Fund Purchases:  López reported that purchase orders were issued for two Restricted Funds purchases greater than $100,000: the first from EMRTC for $1.3 million for an explosives test for the State Department to measure speed and load pressures 105 feet from a firewall. The second was for $191,000 to the Harvard Petroleum Co. in Roswell. Restricted Fund purchases do not require Board approval; these two purchase orders were reported solely for informational purposes.

11. Request for Unrestricted Fund Purchases Exceeding $250,000:  This item did require a bid, and was advertised for open bidding. López recommended approval for a $341,500 bid award, which was the lowest bid, to Sysco New Mexico effective 07/01/11 to 06/30/12, for food and supplies for resale at the PRTC. Regent Solimon made the motion to approve the recommendation; Regent Silver seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

12. Workman Center Roof Replacement:  López recommended that the Board approve a contract with White Sands Construction, Inc. for $1,058,230 to replace the roof on Workman Center, which in the long run is less expensive than continuing to do patch work. The company was one of eight bidders for the project. Marquez noted that the Institute did not receive insurance money for the Workman roof following the hail storm of October 2004; adjusters said damage was minimal. The new roof comes with a 20-year warranty. Regent Solimon moved to accept the roofing contract; Regent Peacock seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously.

13. Individual Board Member Comments: Regent Peacock said she attended the Convocation ceremony at Macey Center, which she enjoyed, but had to endure the heat during the ceremony; and quipped that she was glad the Board approved the new cooling system. Peacock added that the students loved the ceremony.

14. New Business:  None.

15. Employee Benefit Trust:  The Board recessed the meeting at 3:01 p.m. and convened as the Benefit Trust. Marquez reported that large claims are stressing the system, necessitating a loan to the Trust from the University. One heart attack claim alone cost around $250,000. Marquez said he has met with a faculty headed by Dr. Bruce Harrison, E&ES, to explain the mechanics of the benefits plan, adding that changes may be made to the share-ratios paid by the University and the employees. Marquez said he has been working with Angie Gonzales in Human Resources, and viewing a number of options. “This is not a happy report,” Marquez said. Regent Carpenter noted that the stop-loss system may be too high, saying it was “more of a lumpiness payment problem” for a few high-cost claims than anything else.

16. Adjournment:  The Board reconvened and there being no further business to come before the Board, Chairman Carpenter adjourned the meeting at 3:05 p.m.