Although UNM-Taos took a serious hit due to Governor Richardson’s budget-slashing cost cutting this year at the state legislature, that’s only half of the story.
The other side of the budget coin is that even with the loss of 1.6 million in much needed funding, our community college still came away with 3.3 million dollars—more than double what was allocated to them last year, thanks in great part to the political savvy and resolve of Senator Carlos Cisneros and Representative Bobby Gonzales.
It’s enough to complete the 18,000 square foot classroom building that currently sits vacant at the Klauer campus south of town, as well as upgrade the computers and telecom infrastructure on campus.
This long awaited expansion is crucial to carrying out the mission of UNM-Taos, according to executive director Dr. Kate O’Neill, who commuted from Taos to the Roundhouse in Santa Fe during the January and February legislative session to help the process along.
“Things are beginning to come together for UNM-Taos, and this step is long overdue. It is time for us to go wireless on campus. We want to be able to deliver distance education courses, both incoming and outgoing, in order to work closer with area high schools and serve our students better. Most importantly, with the early childhood development and career tech buildings nearing completion, finishing the classroom facility will allow us to consolidate our activities at Klauer so we’re no longer spread out over six different areas throughout the town.
“Along with consolidation, it will help us modernize. The classroom building is a very well designed, energy efficient building that utilizes both active and passive solar. We are very proud to be good neighbors and good citizens in modeling sustainable practices. I feel that is part of our obligation to this community.”
The 3.3 million is a microscopic part of the 2008 Capital Projects General Obligation Bond Act, which authorizes the “issuance and sale of capital projects general obligation bonds to make capital expenditures for senior citizen facility improvements and acquisitions, for library acquisitions, for health facilities, and for capital improvements and acquisitions at institutions of higher education and state special schools.”
Because a tax will be levied to cover payment of principal, interest and costs of the nearly three hundred million dollar bond offering, New Mexico voters will be called upon to approve the Act in the election next November.
Rather than providing salaries for UNM-Taos employees or funds for programs, money from UNM-Taos’s share of the bond sale will go toward the cost of construction and completion of the classroom building, including finishing the sprinkler system for fire suppression; putting in drywall; and painting, carpeting and furnishing the facility.
“We will have eight bright new classrooms,” O’Neill said, “and a snack bar where students can eat and socialize. And we will have office space. This expansion will help our cash flow because we will no longer have to rent facilities, and it also puts us in a more favorable funding category because we will own our facilities rather than rent them. Provided that the general obligation bond passes, we hope to have this wonderful addition open by the fall of 2009.
“It is going to take a while to get the campus fully built out and operational. For instance, with the high price of gas we are now bumping up the priority of providing bus transportation to Klauer. Our original master plan included bus pickup and drop off locations that would be appropriate for something like the Chile Line, and now is certainly the time to put them into practice.
“With all these plans for the future, I want to make sure the community understands that we have to rely on local, state and federal funds and, increasingly, private funds to keep our community college going. Public-private partnerships and business partnerships are essential if we are to continue to provide the sustainable services that are vital to the community.”
ANOTHER ROUND OF SPRING COURSE OFFERINGS
Despite the wintry weather, it’s already time to sign up for the spring 2008 second eight weeks courses at UNM-Taos. Like wild iris in a snowy field, they are popping up all over.
These short courses are offered in a more intense format. Instead of putting in 16 weeks, you can take a class that meets twice a week for only eight weeks, and some one credit classes meet for only a couple of weekends. If work or family responsibilities have kept you from trying out a class at your community college, now’s the time to get involved. All you have to do is pick up a flyer, call 737-6200 or check out our website at taos.unm.edu.
The range of topics is impressive. You can try your hand at fly fishing, take country contra dancing for a spin, even enroll in a class called Introduction to Hot Rocks. Explore Computer Basics for Beginners or Introduction to Investing.
Bob Arellano, head of the Literacy and Cultural Studies Academy, plans on taking Jim Buechler’s contra dance class. Jim Buechler is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard University, where in the 1950s he participated in the great New England country/square/contra dance revival. He moved to Taos in 1996 and helped re-establish the monthly Taos dance, which he’s been calling since November 1999.
Mary Lutz, head of Upper Division for the college, made special mention of three upper division courses:
“This spring we are offering an art history class taught by one of the fabulous art historians of New Mexico named Dr. Richard Tobin. He teaches at the I.A.I.A. in Santa Fe and he will be teaching late 20th century art.
“Another wonderful class is Spiritual Traditions of Northern New Mexico. It will be taught by retired professor of world religions Dr. O’Malia. It’s a field-based class where students will be going everywhere from the Lama Foundation to the Buddhist stupas to the mosque in Abiquiu to the Sikhs of Espanola. They’ll be exploring the spiritual traditions of northern New Mexico and why these communities all chose to establish themselves within close proximity to one another.
“The third upper division course is a class in the art of meditation with Barri Sanders. No matter how you apply it in your personal life, meditation is a skill that everyone can use.”
Study the schedule in the Taos News or online, and if you find something you like sign up as soon as possible. Enrollment runs through the first day of class and most courses still have openings, but once they fill, you won’t be able to sow those seeds of knowledge this spring.