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NMSU Board of Regents hears latest initiative proposals

SANTA FE, N.M. — Despite no action items on the agenda at the NMSU Board of Regents meeting on Jan. 27, the regents heard proposals regarding the LEADS 2025 initiative and renaming a street on the Las Cruces campus.

The New Mexico State University Board of Regents met in Santa Fe on Jan. 27 to discuss several topics, including two proposed initiatives to the LEADS 2025 program and renaming a street on the Las Cruces campus. (Illustration by Noah Apodaca/Kokopelli)

In attendance at the special meeting held in Santa Fe were all five of NMSU’s regents, several non-voting members and other NMSU officials, including Chancellor Dan Arvizu. The meeting occurred at the same time the New Mexico legislature had convened for its 2023 session. 

In 2019, NMSU adopted a strategic plan known as LEADS 2025. This effort outlines a series of targets that the university wants to reach within the next several years. Those goals include enhancing student success and social mobility, elevating research and creativity, amplifying extension/outreach and building a robust university system.

“We are very much focused on student success. There is no lack of talent in the state of New Mexico and the southern part of the country,” Dan Arvizu said. “There is a lack of access and lack of opportunity and we as an institution are committed to [addressing] that.”

The plan seems to be working in several aspects including in the enhancing of student success and mobility goals. For example, since the strategic plan’s inception, NMSU’s four-year graduation rates have increased by 22% from 2018 through 2021.

The university wants to diversify its equity, diversity and inclusion portfolio and build an online global campus to make obtaining a college degree from NMSU more desirable; two goals that would be added to the LEADS initiative.

Vice President of Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Teresa Maria Scholz and Associate Vice Chancellor Sherry Kollmann led the proposal effort and cited that all NMSU campuses would be included in this proposed practice.

“I cannot emphasize enough how important the community colleges are to our system and how important extension and outreach is to our system as a land grand [university],” Scholz said.

Currently, around 61.4% of system wide NMSU students are of Hispanic/Latinx descent, and around 38% are first-generation college students. By building on EID practices, the university could lead the way as a Hispanic-serving institution.

As for building up NMSU Global, Kollmann cited that the program would be the online college leader in New Mexico, allowing for every resident to obtain an education and subsequently, a degree. NMSU Global is expected to grow from 1,600 current students to 10,000 over the course of five years.

“We’re building it with our faculty. It’s a way for us to grow, but grow very organically and serve the needs for our residents in New Mexico,”

The NMSU Board of Regents meet in the El Dorado Hotel and Spa in Santa Fe on Jan. 27 to discuss NMSU business. (Photo by Leslie Edgar/Associate Dean and Director of Agricultural Experiment Station Administration)

Kollmann said. According to Kollmann, the program will offer people an education that is affordable and sustainable.

NMSU Global launched on Feb. 1 and is expected to bring $50 million worth of revenue over time. That revenue could be used for faculty salary increases, graduate student needs, athletics, or other obligations according to Kollmann and Scholz.

“We are here to change lives,” Kollmann added.

In addition to these proposed additions to the LEADS project, the meeting agenda also included plans to rename a street in the agriculture district on the Las Cruces campus. Gregg Street, which flows through NMSU’s agriculture district, is expected to be renamed to Agriculture Way.

According to Jeff Witte, Secretary of the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, renaming the street would highlight the land grant mission and the original purpose of NMSU. Adding that the renaming would also “bring focus and attention to the epicenter of the state and the university’s agriculture program.”

The board of regents did not vote on any action items at this meeting, but is expected to meet again in February. No date is set for the February meeting, according to the regent’s website. 

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