By Bill Knief
The schedules of classes for UNM-Taos summer and fall semesters are in the racks around town and several hundred students have already registered for one or both semesters, locking in the classes they need at the times they need to take them. I had a conversation with Executive Director Dr. Kate O’Neill about the end and the beginning of another school year.
“Those people who have already enrolled are ahead of the game,” observed Executive Director Dr. Kate O’Neill. “They are going to get the classes they want and they won’t be disappointed by finding out at the last minute that a section they wanted has filled.
Now more than ever we encourage everyone to register early, because budget cuts have forced us to reduce the number of classes we can offer. That makes it harder for students to balance their education with work schedules and family responsibilities, and that is one of the most important components in the community college mission. We are both accessible and sensitive to student needs, and although tuition has been rising as government funding has lowered, at $71.00 per credit hour we are still a very good deal. At UNM-Taos you will know your instructors’ names, and they will know yours. If you take Psych 105 in Taos, for instance, you might have 30 or 40 students at most in the class. At main campus, by contrast, you could have 800 and the class could be taught by a teaching assistant instead of a fully credentialed instructor.
“UNM-Taos graduation ceremonies are coming up May 11, and we expect to have over 200 graduates ranging all the way from GED to upper division, and this year for the first time we will have our nursing program students graduating with us.
“We are very proud of all our students. It takes a lot of effort to complete a degree or certificate program, so it’s just that much sweeter to cross that stage and get a handshake and a diploma when you know you had to put in all those extra hours to get there.
We try to live up to the word “community” in our name by being responsive to the needs of the community we serve, from dual credit courses in the high schools to workforce development training and preparing people to continue their studies at four year institutions. We want to be the point of access for the entire community, regardless of where they are coming from and where they are going.
“By providing opportunities for people who have ambition, drive and the dedication to improve themselves and their families, UNM-Taos is fulfilling its mission. This comes at a cost in terms of time and treasure, however, and we must do everything we can to ensure that students don’t get out of school with a debt load that prohibits them from being able to really get ahead. In this regard we, as a society, must stand behind our stated aim of being a land of opportunity for all.”
This year, for the first time, all graduates will be given a TAA pin and automatic membership in the newly formed UNM-Taos Alumni Association. It is our hope that they will become the ambassadors of our community college and the positive role models for the next generation of Taosenos.
Summer classes start June 4, and Fall classes begin Monday, August 20.