UNM-GALLUP IS A PARTNER IN BUILDING A BETTER NEW MEXICO.
By Dr. James R. Malm, Professor of Business and Chancellor
December 7, 2020 This past summer—in the midst of this ongoing pandemic—UNM-Gallup celebrated the accomplishments of our Class of 2020, including our first cohort of graduates receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. Upon her graduation this summer, Allison Begay—one of our nursing graduates—shared her pride and accomplishment with our campus community: “My experience at UNM-Gallup will remain near and dear to my heart,” she explained. “Nursing school has been the hardest thing I have ever done. The long nights, early mornings, studying all the time, getting to clinicals on time, and preparing for some of the hardest exams I’ve taken in my life—all experiences that have been a part of my life for more than two years.”
In my role as chancellor of UNM-Gallup, I have the honor and pleasure of witnessing the development of our students as they pursue their educational and career goals in our classrooms and then leave our campus prepared to enter into careers that make for a stronger New Mexico. Like Allison, our students go on to work in New Mexico hospitals and healthcare facilities. They work in our state’s manufacturing sector and on the construction crews that build our commercial buildings and homes. And they go on to pursue other higher educational goals in our state’s colleges and universities. Our students are exemplary citizens who participate in our New Mexico workforce.
This week, the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) is meeting to explore forthcoming difficult decisions regarding our state’s higher educational system, which includes UNM-Gallup. There are some hard budget realities we are all certainly facing, and I commend each of our state legislators for their discernment and stewardship of our state during these incredibly difficult times. But I also want to convey the good work of our university as our legislators make these decisions to illustrate the important role UNM-Gallup plays in the lives of our students, our local community, and the state of New Mexico.
CURRICULUM INNOVATION & PRIORITIZATION
Without a doubt, curriculum innovation is essential to the continued success of UNM-Gallup while ensuring that we are meeting student needs, local workforce demands, and fulfilling our mission for this 21st century. To ensure that the programs offered at UNM-Gallup fulfill our mission, we implemented this past summer what we called the Committee for the Review and Prioritization of Certificate and Degree Programs of the University of New Mexico Gallup. This committee was comprised of members from our faculty and department chairs who embarked together on a lengthy review and scoring process for program quality and relevance.
The scoring process considered such questions as: 1) What is the local and regional demand for the program; 2) What are the enrollment trends; 3) What is the curriculum quality and relevance; and 4) What are the graduation and retention rates—to name just a few of the many scoring criteria used in the committee’s evaluation process. The committee also examined how our programs interact with other colleges and universities within the state as well as the need for additional ongoing partnerships or process improvements in collaboration with the UNM main campus. In a shared-governance fashion, our program prioritization committee reviewed over 37 programs at UNM-Gallup while providing recommendations for improvements and the eventual deletion of six programs that no longer meet our high standards for curriculum excellence.
As baby boomers continue to retire at a fast rate, local communities and business leaders struggle to fill industrial manufacturing positions in our state; and are turning to UNM-Gallup to help fill the void with the development of a new certificate program for students.
To meet this local workforce demand, UNM-Gallup is finalizing a new certificate program called Process Technology—a first of its kind in the state of New Mexico—which will include eight core classes that students must pass to earn their certificate. Classes will include courses for industrial safety, process instrumentation, quality and process control, and an introduction to different manufacturing process industries.
The new Process Technology Program at UNM-Gallup—currently in the final review and approval stage—will begin accepting students in Fall 2021 and is expected to expand into an associate degree program soon after its formal implementation.
CAMPUS SPACE UTILIZATION
The investments made over the past five decades to build a viable UNM-Gallup campus for the benefit of our community and students give us reason enough to ensure that our buildings and classroom facilities are aligned with the educational and workforce development needs of Gallup and the state of New Mexico. To that end, we are in the early stages of commissioning a space efficiency and utilization plan for all of our UNM-Gallup facilities to meet the short-term and long-term needs of our campus and community.
As part of this ongoing campus and space utilization planning, we are excited to be able to include funds from the General Obligation Bond C that passed in November’s General Election. This bond will provide our campus with $3 million to renovate our Career and Technical Education (CTE) classrooms and laboratories. With the planned renovations of our CTE buildings, UNM-Gallup will be able to better meet our community’s need for innovative workforce development initiatives by providing multiuse spaces, learning labs, and a job-training center for the Gallup-McKinley area. This building—originally built in the 1970s—will also provide new training facilities for our high-demand career and technical education programs once renovations are complete.
A PARTNER FOR NEW MEXICO
Whether we are experiencing an economic boom, or a dramatic downturn caused by a pandemic, the investment we make in our students today ensures a bright future for all of New Mexico. UNM-Gallup is a proud member of the state’s higher educational system, and we are equally as proud of our community college heritage.
I was so proud of our UNM-Gallup geoscience students who traveled to New Orleans late last year to join with other college students from throughout the United States to conduct field research. These UNM-Gallup students presented their nationally recognized research projects this year, representing our state so well throughout their endeavors. One of our professors, Dr. Tracy Lassiter, is putting together an international conference that will be held next year in Venice with a focus on visual depictions of the American West.
And, our UNM-Gallup Small Business Development Center (SBDC) continues to serve our local small business community, supporting their ongoing and emerging needs during this pandemic—including assisting with grant and funding requests, helping to navigate the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), and being there for our small business owners as they see their way through this crisis as a key community partner. Cyndi Jarvison, our SBDC director, was recently selected as the 2020 New Mexico SBA Minority Small Business Champion of the Year and also received the 2020 Small Business Development Center Excellence and Innovation Award. The important work our SBDC does for our local businesses cannot be understated, and these awards are truly a testament to the good work Cyndi and her team does each day on behalf of New Mexico small businesses.
We are accomplishing great things at UNM-Gallup for the good of New Mexico. To our legislators, we are your partner in building a better state. Our faculty, staff, and students put in the good work each day to ensure that we not only fulfill our mission but continuously improve our programs, partnerships, facilities, and workforce solutions to meet the needs of our local community, region, and state. I join the entire UNM-Gallup community and ask that you honor that partnership by supporting our efforts to build New Mexico’s future.
Chartered as a community college more than five decades ago, UNM-Gallup operates under the aegis of the University of New Mexico as Gallup’s branch campus. Although our priority has always been to serve the community as a two-year college, our association with UNM has allowed us to be flexible and stretch as the need arrives. As the largest of the four UNM branch campuses, we serve approximately 2,200 students.