UNM-Taos to hold Oct. 2 groundbreaking

By Bill Knief

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The numbers are still coming in, but it looks like, for the second fall semester in a row, UNM-Taos has topped the 1,800 mark in enrollment.

If you count the summer session, this means that we are likely to serve upwards of 4,000 students in the 2014-2015 school year. This is quite an accomplishment, especially at a time when many institutions of higher education across the nation are struggling. We, on the other hand, were named the 17th fastest growing community college of our size in the nation last year.

Taos County is unique. We value higher education more than most places.

Diego Trujillo and others ....

Diego Trujillo and others ….

In 2012, for instance, Taos County ranked first out of all 33 New Mexico counties in support of General Obligation Bond C which provided for capital improvements and acquisitions at institutions of higher education. Seventy-two percent of Taoseños who went to the polls voted yes even though we lack the population density, the opportunities and the resources of the big urban centers.

Jim Gilroy, our dean of Instruction for many years, once put it this way: “Being rural is actually a plus; it creates an attitude of resourcefulness.”

My Webster’s Unabridged says that resourcefulness is the ability “to deal skillfully and promptly with new situations, difficulties, etc.” I believe that is an accurate description of both the citizens of Northern New Mexico in general, and UNM-Taos students in particular. I hope that both groups take justifiable pride in the accomplishments of the only community college within a 50-mile radius. It makes the almost superhuman efforts of 120 adjunct and 20 full-time faculty, as well as program managers, the support staff, the physical plant staff, the administration, the advisors and the enrollment and business offices worthwhile.

This year, one way we have come up with to express our appreciation for the support communities have given us is to throw an open house celebration Thursday (Oct. 2), 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. It will have a harvest theme, and there will be prizes, lunch provided by Benji Apodaca and his talented culinary arts students, music, a voter registration table, a live radio feed, recognition of the numerous federal grants that have kept us abreast of our growing enrollment, and a groundbreaking ceremony for the 7,000-square-foot addition to Padre Martinez Hall — the first ribbon-cutting in four years for a permanent building on campus.

Terry Udall helping with the ribbon cutting

Jill Udall helping with the ribbon cutting

When completed, the project will provide for a Student Success Center that will concentrate all student services — enrollment, advising, CASA tutoring, business office, financial aid, bursar’s office as well as study and social areas — in one convenient location while serving as the gateway to the campus.

We are also proud to announce that Sen. Tom Udall has agreed to participate in the festivities that will take place in tents set up on the spacious lawn outside Fred Peralta Hall. Sen. Udall is a staunch supporter of long standing, and we appreciate his willingness to join us. We hope that you, too, will help fill the ranks of our honored guests.

Bill Knief is a project coordinator at UNM-Taos.

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