Freedom New Mexico: Argen Duncan New Mexico Secretary of Higher Education Viola Florez listens at the town hall meeting Monday in the Clovis Community College Town Hall. Giving input for a proposed higher education master plan, participants discussed such things as the importance of the institution to the community, dual-credit programs and duplication of courses among universities.
Making courses transfer between institutions and the importance of local colleges and universities were among topics attendees covered at the Higher Education Department town hall meeting Monday at Clovis Community College.
The department is collecting public input from around New Mexico for a statewide higher education master plan.
Secretary of Higher Education Viola Florez said a rough draft of the plan would be available online for comment in late September or early October, and she expected to have the plan finished and any legislation needed to implement it drafted by the end of the year.
Business Administration and Technology Chairwoman Becky Carruthers said she wanted to make sure CCC graduates were prepared for their jobs and on par with native students at the institutions to which they transferred.
Master Plan Task Force Director Barry Cooney said he wanted a statewide joint numbering system for courses so students would know the classes were the same across institutions. Such a setup would allow students to transfer among state institutions and know what would be accepted, Florez said.
“And I know it’s really cumbersome up front to get it done … But once you get it done, you know what, it’s the best thing for students,” she said.
Mesalands Community College President Phillip Barry supported the common course numbering as well as money for program start-up costs and no duplication of programs.
“Before we can plan for the future, we have to make sure the foundations for higher education in New Mexico are in place,” he said.
CCC Cannon Air Force Base Educational Coordinator LaTanya Henry said the common numbering and transferability were of utmost importance for military personnel and spouses because of their frequent moves. She suggested looking at common course numbering with institutions in other states as well.
Also, a number of participants spoke on the importance of local colleges and universities.
Neibling encouraged Florez and Cooney to include increasing the number of students who complete their studies in the plan.
“It’s not just Democrats, it’s not just Republicans, it’s both parties who see community colleges as the key to getting out of this economic trouble we’re in,” he said after quoting two leaders.
ENMR Plateau Chief Financial Officer David Robinson said the company’s success depends on a well-trained, technically competent workforce, and CCC and ENMU are important partners in providing that. He said Plateau employees must survive and can’t travel long distance for education.
“The proximity of ENMU and CCC allows Plateau employees to survive and further their education,” Robinson said, adding that use of facilities such as the gym also helps employees have balanced lives.
CCC Dean of Allied Health Robin Jones said many area hospital nurses are community college graduates, and students come from Tucumcari, Roswell and Santa Rosa to train as nurses at CCC.
Cooney said no institutions would be closed.
“We have to build, make stronger what’s already there,” he said.
Retiree David Caffey asked how the department would keep the plan through changes in leadership.
Cooney said the Legislature could mandate viable suggestions, and legislators are open to positive change in higher education. Florez said she hoped the plan would outline priorities so the next person in her office would know, and the state Board of Finance won’t approve new graduate programs or capital outlay without seeing a big picture for higher education.
“So I think the timing is right in several different ways,” she said.
On the ‘Net
Information on the master plan: visit www.hed.state.nm.us