By Bill Knief
Louis Moya came on board less than a year ago to head up the Development Office at UNM-Taos. After graduating from Taos High School, Moya got his undergraduate degree in media arts at main campus in Albuquerque, moved to Los Angeles, then obtained a law degree from Rutgers and practiced law on the east coast. Along with his wife Leslie, Moya then decided that it was time to come full circle and return to friends and family in Taos. UNM-Taos had never had a Development Director before, so Moya’s first task was to define the job itself and, starting from scratch, create programs and policies that had potential for building much-needed resources for the college.
It wasn’t the best time to start an organization based on philanthropy. The recession was deepening, and people were struggling. Federal programs were drying up and the state legislature, led by a Republican governor, was finding it all too easy to withdraw resources from public schools and higher education to help balance the state budget. Nevertheless, Moya persisted, believing that the traditional areas of development such as combing through lists of potential donors and identifying funding institutions, while important, were only part of the challenge.
“As often happens at UNM-Taos, my job turned into a lot of different jobs,” Moya explained, “and I realized that we had a need for resources in addition to money. We needed better institutional recognition in the community. We needed to continue to build more partnerships. We needed to create activities that the public could experience and enjoy. We needed organizational development, and that is what has become the UNM-Taos Alumni Association. Through the TAA we can foster sustainable, long-term relationships with students—and not just graduates. We encourage current students to join the alumni association as well.
“Part of the beauty and charm of a community college is that we serve a lot of different demographics, including students who are lifelong learners who want to take classes that are not related to a certificate or degree program. They, too, are alumni and they are very important to us and our mission. So instead of charging an annual fee to graduates, our alumni association welcomes any student, past or present, who has taken a class at UNM-Taos, and all they have to do is sign up. They can register online at www.unmtaa.com, and again, there is no fee.
“Any good development person will tell you to always keep your eye on the money. But that’s not the whole story. We need resources to accomplish certain activities and programs that serve the community, but equally important is the development of that alumni base, because those are the people who have a sense of personal ownership of this institution. In just over six months we have signed up close to one hundred members.
We have given a thousand dollars in scholarships and we are projecting three thousand for next year, and we have practically no overhead, so any money we raise goes immediately and directly to the services and programs we provide.
“I have also set up an annual fundraising campaign called the Circle of Giving for those with the resources to show their commitment and dedication to their community college on either a modest or a more substantial level. If you feel strongly about education, your contribution to UNM-Taos can really make a difference. But there are other benefits of membership in the Circle of Giving as well. We have twenty five businesses and counting who offer discounts to Circle of Giving members just by showing their membership card. This encourages the buy local habit while providing focused marketing to participating business owners and channeling resources to the college. If that sounds interesting, you can learn more at www.unmtaosgiving.org.
“The third program that we have implemented through the Development Office that we expect will have a growing impact in the years to come is called the Taos Center for Learning at a Distance, or CLD for short (pronounced “cloud”). It’s a way for UNM-Taos to communicate its academic mission to the world via web-based courses and archival content. It’s becoming a place where faculty and experts from around the world can be accessed online, and while for-credit courses will require a tuition fee that provides a revenue stream for the college, not-for-credit content will be made available to the public without charge. Our website is www.unmtaoscld.com.
“There are great opportunities here for getting involved with your community college. I want people to walk into my office and say, I’m really interested in this or that subject area; I want to be a part of something worthwhile; I want to volunteer; I want to be a mentor; I have some equipment I’d like to donate. The possibilities, truly, are endless.”
Contact Louis Moya at his office at 115 Civic Plaza Drive or give him a call at 737-3737. You can also reach him by email at moya.unm.edu.