By Bill Knief
In the last UNM-Taos Report I talked about the enthusiasm expressed for the enrollment numbers that were rolling in, and how important it is for our college to keep those numbers up. Last fall they dropped slightly and our funding took a drop also, so there was some concern and a lot of commitment to ensuring that we were on the right side of the equation this time around.
At the end of the article I said, “Final numbers for regular enrollment and dual credit will not be in until after September 15, the census date used as the official count for the semester. We will see then how well everyone’s predictions have held up.” Well, the numbers are in, and here’s the score:
We knocked it out of the park.
According to Anne Landgraf, Information Resource Manager, on September 15 we had 1,416 registered students, compared to last fall’s figure of 1,194. That’s an increase of 222 students in a single year, and a comfortable 91 more than the next highest figure if 1,325 recorded in 2006. More students are taking more classes, as well. Last fall we recorded 8,281 credit hours. This year the figure was 10,194; an increase of 1,913 credit hours.
Executive Director Dr. Kate O’Neill feels that this is exactly where we want to be. “Too much growth too fast could hurt us,” she said. “But, clearly, these numbers are telling us we are meeting the needs of the community.”
Another positive sign: dual credit enrollment was way up this semester. The popular program where area high school students take classes for both high school and college credit was up to almost 400 students.
That’s the current status of the community’s use of their college. Now, a quick look at what Bob Arellano, head of the Literacy and Cultural Studies Academy, calls, “bringing the college to the community.”
BRINGING THE COLLEGE TO THE COMMUNITY
Saturday, September 27 marks the beginning of the first annual Fall Harvest Festival of Education and the Arts at UNM-Taos (see our ad in this week’s edition of Tempo Magazine). In cooperation with student government, it’s a week of events at the Klauer campus south of town and at locations all around the community that is designed to give back a small portion of the enthusiasm and support this community has shown us in the past five years.
It will include two evening events—the Saturday, September 27 opening night gala reception and art opening, “Ten Years of Printmaking at UNM-Taos,” and a full blown open house extravaganza Thursday, October 2nd with walkthroughs of major new buildings, a bonfire, music, a poetry circle and even a star gazing telescope event. Indoors at 7 p.m. we will show the beautifully crafted and inspiring hour long film, “Team Everest: A Himalayan Journey” hosted by Gary Guller; Everest summiteer, internationally known speaker, champion of the rights of persons with disabilities and our own local Taoseno.
Sunday September 28th our library on Civic Plaza Drive opens its doors to library and CASA tutoring events. Monday, September 29th at 7 p.m. author and UNM-Taos instructor Sean Murphy will host a reading at Cafe Tazza entitled, “John Nichols, Sean Murphy and Friends” at Caffe Tazza, 122 Kit Carson Rd.
This is just a small sample of what’s in store. Study the full list of events, and try to attend as many as you can with the entire family. They’re all free, and it is essential that every citizen gets to know their community college, and takes part in its growth and improvement. Take special note of the tours of our newest additions: the Career Tech and Early Childhood Development Center buildings. They are going to have a major positive impact on how people perceive higher education in northern New Mexico in the years to come.
A smaller, yet no less important innovation to take note of will be a free coloring book for children created by longtime local resident and artist Amy Cordova and produced by Student Success Director Amy Chavez-Aguilar. Cordova’s beautifully simple and gently evocative drawings of scenes around the UNM-Taos campus will give children a first glimpse of life at their own community college. Be sure to take some home for the kids.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Carolyn Thompson, UNM President Schmidly’s Consultant for Planning, met with around seventeen UNM-Taos faculty and administrators September 12 for a two hour session on strategic planning. The results should be quite interesting to the Taos community, because although the purpose of the work session was not to implement strategy, some of the outcomes were quite revealing as to the current in-house thinking about the future of our uniquely Taos-style community college. Here are a few highlights:
In response to the question, “Where is UNM-Taos in the best position to grow,” participants gave the highest marks to sustainability, in terms of green building and facility operations such as the highly anticipated solar array, along with water research, science and cultural issues. Next came transportation, particularly in the much needed ability to efficiently transport students to and from the Klauer campus. Other responses included student support, engagement and advising; vocational programs; state-of-the-art language/learning labs; and the Library and Learning Resource Center.
On the topic of how UNM-Taos can best differentiate, or leverage its uniqueness, respondents again put green building and sustainable energy first, followed by faculty excellence, health sciences, arts programs and regional culture, diversity and history.
UNM-Taos strengths ranged from the powerful commitment and caring manner of faculty, staff and our executive director to manageable class size, overall affordability, cultural diversity, our student base and extraordinary community support.
ANOTHER EXTRAORDINARY EVENT
There will be a performance/fundraising event for the new Creativity and Consciousness Program at UNM-Taos, featuring internationally acclaimed pianist and current Wurlitzer Foundation Fellow Azima Melita Kolin, performing with Taos’s own Mirabai Starr and Nancy Laupheimer for an evening of classical music and readings from the Sufi poet Rumi on Thursday, September 25. “Lovers of Rumi” will begin at the Angladas Building at 8 pm.
In the article on our new Student Success Associate from Taos Pueblo Mildred Young, who is currently working with advisors Damon Montclare and Mario Suazo, I said that she was working on her Bachelor of University Studies. In fact, the seemingly inexhaustible Ms Young has already completed that degree.