WNMU ‘Focus on the Future’ forum

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6:07 — Due to the weather, looks like the forum is going to start bit late. Be back when things get underway.

6:15 — Looks like we’re getting things started.

6:19 — Dr. Counts: two purposes of the meeting tonight: information on the university, and what the school was doing, and to plan for the future.

6:22 — Counts: interesting the ways in which change has occured throughout the world since I took over in 1993, in terms of economy, information technology, etc.

6:23 — Moving on to the transition to a university and a community college. Focus remains on education, but Counts said WNMU is the only school in New Mexico that serves as a community college and university.

6:26 — Counts says there’s been a shift, as the school has expanded througout the state. Focus on Gallup, T or C, Deming, and the associated programs there.

6:29 — Counts: Now we have distance learning in Silver City, linked with Quemado, Reserve, Magdaleno, Lordsburg, and soon in Socorro. Also have connections with T or C and with Deming. 861 students took classes online last year, a 20 percent increase year over year.

6:33 — “In the history of teacher education in New Mexico, nobody’s ever done better than we’ve done.”

6:38 — Average age of a full-time incoming freshman is 23; average age of underclass is 27; for graduate students, 39.

6:41 — Counts: We’re measured by the number of faculty who have the appropriate terminal degree, and at Western 90.8 % and 92% have the appropriate terminal degree.

6:46 — $40 million in capital improvements in the last 10 to 12 years.

6:50 — Counts: “Here we have the largest collection of Mimbres pottery in the world. We have the possibility of getting some additional collections, but the museum is going to need to be renovated.”

6:54 — Counts: “I think the longer I’m here, the more it occurs to me how vital this university is to economic development.”

6:59 — Getting into enrollment – impact for next budget year, will be slightly more than $300,000, or two-percent smaller.

7:04 — “The most important thing for success of children in schools is the quality of the teacher. We need more teachers, and there is an incredible shortage of teachers in this country, particularly in rural areas.”

7:10 — “Compensation: people aren’t paid enough. That’s our number one priority at the next legislative session.”

7:12 — Question and answer session.

7:14 — Discussion of the impacts of the economy on enrolment at schools acros the country and New Mexico. Counts says that new Mexico Junior College and Clovis Community College are facing enrollment issues worse than WNMU.

7:26 — Lot’s of discussion on the role of the school of education, and the programs being created there. In addition, talk of the ways in which WNMU can help to improve education across the board in the state.

7:30 — Shorter Faye Vowell, VP of academic affairs: “Women are more likely to pass math classes than males at WNMU.”

7:38 — Judy Ward: we need more training for service workers in the town to improve the tourism base in Grant County.

7:46 — Chris Farren, VP of student affairs, talking about the ways in which the school is recruiting younger students. Talk of making sure graduates and students are proficient in computers.

7:55 — Sunny McFarren, Gila Regional Medical Center: “We’re handicapped by a lack of classroom space, and we’d like to partner with WNMU for certain classes to help support the hospital.”

8:01 — Randy Jones, VP of business affairs, talking about the ways in which the university and the town can work on projects cooperatively. Also, discussion on increasing visibility of the university throughout the town.

8:04 — We’re done! More tomorrow.

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