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UNM-Taos at the half way point

By Bill Knief

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Summer is always a busy time for the admissions office and related advising, financial aid and student affairs departments in Pueblo Hall on Klauer Campus. By the time this article comes out, UNM-Taos will have already enrolled over five hundred students for the Fall, 2015 semester despite dire predictions of a significant national downturn in college enrollment. That puts us in line with the Fall, 2013 enrollment pattern, when we posted our all-time record high of 1,857 students.

This summer, however, we have an additional challenge: all student service providers have to be out of their current lodgings and into the newly remodeled Padre Martinez Hall well ahead of the first day of class, August 17. That almost guarantees that the time-honored tradition of waiting until after Fiestas to enroll is going to be a very bad idea this time around.

Do yourself a big favor and call the enrollment office at 737-6215 while only a handful of classes have filled, lines are short or non-existent, and there is plenty of time to talk to advisors and plan your academic, personal enrichment or career strategy.

Or, you can drive out to Klauer during regular business hours and check out the stunning improvements to our campus while you’re there. If you’re a returning student you’ll hardly recognize the place, and if you’re a first-timer you’ll be glad you decided to be a part of the UNM-Taos community at such a dynamic time in its history.

As we round the corner of our fiscal year and start to look to the future, we have a lot to be excited about,” Executive Director Dr. Kate O’Neill said recently. “We successfully completed an audit this past year, negotiated a new operating agreement with main campus, and we have received several more federal grants. We are coming down the home stretch with our extensive addition and remodel of the Padre Martinez Student Support Center, and at the same time, we are well on our way toward converting the Taos Convention Center buildings on Civic Plaza Drive into a center for health sciences training, small business and media arts.

We also had the opportunity to host the final session of Leadership New Mexico in Rio Grande Hall before closing it down for construction, followed by the graduation ceremony and farewell dinner at the Phoenix Grill in Taos Ski Valley. Thanks to Fred Peralta, for the past dozen years Leadership New Mexico has held its final session in Taos, so we were able to experience the ripple effect of over a hundred people coming to Taos for three days to enjoy our community. Looking out the huge picture windows of the Phoenix at graduates and their families enjoying the waterfall at sunset, the lush green slopes and the brisk mountain air, it was truly Taos at its best.

I was part of that core class of 2015 graduates, along with 41 others from across the state. There were people representing various sectors of New Mexico society from the oil and gas industry to health care to education to law enforcement. I was very impressed with the experiential learning, the interpersonal skills that we developed, the thought-provoking conversations and the very informative presentations. But Leadership New Mexico wasn’t just about gathering information. It was a qualitative change in people’s thinking that I found so exciting, and which is truly the hallmark of education.

When you look at the word education, it comes from a root meaning ‘to bring forth’. That resonates with me because as the community’s college we want to be able to pivot in response to the needs of the community, find real solutions for the issues facing us today, and to bring forth the best in every student, whether that means a CDL class or computer course for laid-off Questa miners, dual credit for high school students, personal enrichment for seniors or academic paths for degree-seeking students. We try to stay ahead of the curve in terms of best practices and meeting the needs of our students, so we always look forward to hearing from folks; we are always open to new ideas. We have a strong, proactive team and we are going to keep growing and keep on going.”

About The Bill Knief

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