By Bill Knief
Last fall UNM-Taos showed an unprecedented 18 percent increase in student head count, and although the final tally won’t be in for several weeks, it looks like spring semester enrollment is going to be another record breaker. Jim Gilroy, Dean of Instruction for the college, feels that the dramatic upswing is the result of being in the right place at the right time with the right course offerings for the right price.
“It means that UNM-Taos is really working for the community,” Gilroy said. “People who have either lost jobs or have gone away to college and found it too expensive have come back and found an affordable way to continue their education. I’ve had two students just this week, one from UNM and one from Highlands, that have come back. They just couldn’t make it. It can be a real hardship on the families to try to send a student away to college.
“We’re fortunate here to have the quality faculty and the course work that can lead to any of the bachelor career pathways that the student might desire. So I find UNM-Taos is really working for the community, particularly in a time of economic crisis.
“We’ve got a lot more dedicated, full time students this year. If you take a look at our seat count—the number of students we have—it’s up 19 percent over spring semester last year. But if you look at our credit hour count, it’s up over 35 percent (as of February 6). So you see, students are coming to take more classes. I’ve had people come in and sign up for 18 to 24 hours a semester. Those are serious students.
“I feel like the facilities, the faculty and the programs are being put to good use in really serving the needs of Taos,” Gilroy added.
A good example of a program whose time has come is the newly approved Associate Degree in Science Nursing Program. The goal of the ADN-RN program is to make it possible for students to get their certification in nursing while remaining in the Taos community. Students will attend all classes on the UNM-Taos campus over four consecutive semesters, get their clinical experience locally, and, after graduation, have the opportunity to obtain work in the area rather than having to go elsewhere. Holy Cross Hospital will be used as the primary site, along with area clinics, Mountain Home Health Care, Taos Living Center and outpatient facilities. Kathy Falkenhagen, MSN, RN, Director of Nursing, can be reached at 575 741-1367.
Helping the individual to prosper by serving the needs of the community: that’s economic development we can all benefit from.
In case you hadn’t heard, the American Library Association has declared February Love Your Library month, and the UNM-Taos Library is holding its fifth annual open house fundraiser February 13 from 2 to 6 p.m. at room 14, 115 Civic Plaza Drive. The library provides services to all area residents, so everyone is welcome to stop by for the book sale, desserts and refreshments, and a chance to get a free massage. It’s an opportunity to share good books and tasty treats, and say thanks to the staff for providing information and learning opportunities to the community. All monies raised will go to the UNM-Taos library learning center building fund, and donations in any amount will be gratefully accepted. Call 737-6242 for more information.
And today, February 12, from 4-6 p.m., El Monte Sagrado is hosting a release party for the winter issue of the UNM-Taos literary magazine The Howl. It is an event you really shouldn’t miss, with readings as well as a showing of the visual art in the book. Managing editor Jennifer Acompara and art director Barbara Scott gave me a quick preview of The Howl’s fourth edition, and it is impressive.
The first thing you notice is the size, a full 8 ½ by 11 inches this year, just about twice the size as last year. The second is the artwork on practically every page, and the blazing color covers. Although it is primarily the product of the Literacy and Cultural Studies Academy headed by Robert Arellano, this is a literary and art magazine that cuts across departmental lines, collaborating with the Art Academy under the direction of Gary Cook. They’ve also included selections from faculty as well as the student body.
Acompara and Scott feel that this is the way to ensure continuity for UNM-Taos’s only literary publication, and with strong enthusiasm and help from student government, they just might succeed.