Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lopez Makes Good On 5 Of 6 Goals In Presidential Report

By John Severance

SANTA FE – New Mexico Tech president Dr. Daniel Lopez is pretty hard on himself.
Lopez released a status report to the school’s board of regents on Friday, Feb. 26 at the Inn of the Anasazi and he gave himself mixed reviews.
“We achieved five of the goals but failed miserably on the last one,” said Lopez, who has spent the majority of his time in Santa Fe lobbying for the university during the regular and special legislative session.
Regent president Ann Murphy Daly was amused.
“I walk with the president at the Round House and everybody is looking at us,” Murphy Daily said. “All of the universities want him. But he is our president and I could not be happier.”
The top goal on Lopez’s list was to manage budget cuts and minimize the need for layoffs. Lopez reported no layoffs in the past year.
Secondly, Lopez said the school would obtain at least $1 million from the stimulus package for energy and other types of research. The school acquired $4.1 million in stimulus funds.
Thirdly, the school wanted to develop a plan, write a proposal and seek funding to drill a geothermal well and build the infrastructure to deliver hot water for use on campus. The school awarded a $4.34 million contract to an Albuquerque contractor to begin work on the Hot Water Loop.
The fourth goal was to continue to increase enrollment and deliver additional online courses. “This we have accomplished,” Lopez wrote in his report.
Fifth, Lopez wanted the school to increase Hispanic enrollment by 1 percent. The Office of Admission listed 91 Hispanic students among a total enrollment of 314 for the 2008-2009 academic year. That works out to be 29 percent.
The sixth goal, that Lopez said the school did not reach, was to increase freshman to sophomore student retention from 73 percent to 78 percent for the coming academic year. The school sits at 72 percent even though it initiated a President’s Task Force on Retention in 2006 and most recently the Retention Committee in January 2009.
New Mexico Tech, meanwhile, received a clean bill of health from its auditor Larry Carmody. “We looked at more than financials. We looked at the whole picture,” Carmody said.
Regent Richard Carpenter asked Carmody if he had to meet with the regents privately.
Carmody replied: “No sir.”
Regent president Ann Murphy Daily said: “A good audit is indicative of the health of the university and it appears that we are in great health. We would like to thank the auditor for the thorough job that he has done.”
Tech also is doing well when it comes to enrollment with 205 paid applicants for fall 2010 so far as opposed to 105 last year.
“They are impressive numbers and our staff has done a great job but it is going to be difficult because of the challenges of the budget and not being able to faculty,” Lopez said.
Melissa Jaramillo Fleming, the Interim Vice President of Student and University Relations, said the increase in tuition can be attributed to the school’s recruiting efforts especially in the Rio Grande Valley.
“We owe Melissa a real thank you,” Carpenter said. “You guys have stepped it up and done a great job.”
Murphy Daily brought up the costs of transcripts but no decision was made on the issue.
“Right now, we are at $15 which is the highest in the state,” she said. “Maybe we should make it free or five dollars so we can compete with other schools in New Mexico.”
The regents also conferred the degrees for fall 2009 graduates.
Tech Vice President of Academic Affairs Peter Garrity, though, brought up a problem. He said most employers want proof that their future employees have college degrees. Graduates, looking for employment, are being hurt by the two-month delay in getting their degrees. One student wrote a letter to the regents stating he had lost $12,000 because he had not gotten his diploma yet even though he had completed all the qualifications for a degree.
“My recommendation is that we take a giant leap forward, it would really help our graduates,” Garrity said. “Maybe we can give the president the authority, We would take the lead in the state.”
Carpenter said: “That’s a reasonable request. We should delegate that authority to the president.”

Pictured: New Mexico Tech Dan Lopez (right) talks with Regents president Ann Murphy Daily before the Regents meeting in Santa Fe on Monday.

Photo by John Severance.

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