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Where do we go from here?

By Bill Knief

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At the end of a tough year punctuated by unprecedented successes at UNM-Taos, it is tempting to fill this space with a detailed year-in-review list of our community college’s many accomplishments. In hard times progress is at a premium, and deserves to be celebrated.

But suffice it to say that enrollment continued its robust rise, particularly with the all-important certificate and degree seeking students. After almost four years in the works, Pueblo Hall opened for business in late 2009. The third build out of the Early Learning Center in two years started on schedule. Student advising increased. Klauer Campus became home to the largest solar array in New Mexico as the whole campus turned on to safe, sustainable power.

Now, on to a more pressing issue: where do we go from here? With rapidly expanding need in a time of diminishing resources, have we reached a tipping point?

Tuesday, January 19 is the first day of spring semester 2010, and early enrollment numbers are running 25 percent above the same time last year. (If you are planning to enroll, don’t wait a day longer—classes are filling up fast.) Fees have remained stable despite economic shortfalls at the state level, and thanks to some preemptive budget trimming we are offering more than 200 classes for spring semester. Negotiations with North Central Regional Transit District are ongoing, but chances are there will be a big blue bus pulling up to the Klauer Campus as early as the first day of class. The campaign for the Library Learning Center continues unabated. Most of the classes and a good part of the administration will move out to the expanded campus over the next few months.

A lot of things won’t change, however. We will remain an open enrollment campus. Classes might be somewhat larger but nowhere near university size. And student

success—not just capital improvements—will remain the final test of how well we are serving the communities of Taos County. As Ranchos Elementary Principal Robbie Trujillo said in last month’s Taos Municipal School Board meeting, “Anybody who has dealt with education for years and years puts students at the top. If you put anything else at the top, you’re in the wrong business.”

Please come out to Klauer at noon on January 16 to help celebrate the opening of the 18,000 square foot Pueblo Hall classroom and administration building, and see for yourself what a philosophy of putting students first can achieve. We want all Taosenos to take pride in this environmentally sound, open and beautiful structure.

But more important, January 16 will also be an opportunity for Taos County citizens to meet and greet the entire UNM-Taos faculty in an informal setting. Bring your questions, concerns, encouragement and advice. Instructors, academy heads and administrators will show you around the campus while we share thoughts about where we need to go from here.

About The Bill Knief

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