A College On The Move: NNMC President Holds 2nd State of the College Address

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Photo courtesy of NNMC

A College On The Move:
NNMC President Holds 2nd State of the College Address

Staff Report

Tuesday and Thursday of last week, Northern New Mexico College President Rick Bailey held his second quarterly “State of the College Address”, first at the El Rito campus on March 28 and then again at the Espanola campus on March 30. Around 100 people attended both presentations with mixed community and faculty & staff in Espanola, and some staff and mostly community members in El Rito.

At both meetings attendees heard Bailey speak about four main topics; the college’s fiscal health, strategic plan, curriculum/programs, and the El Rito campus.

Bailey acknowledged the fiscal issues the college has faced over the past few years, including the recent discovery of possible embezzlement by a former employee but made the statement that “You will see significant improvements in our next audit. If not, I want you to hold me responsible.” Bailey said the audit has been underway and is due to be released in early April.


Audience members complete viewing a PowerPoint presentation by Bailey. Photo courtesy of NNMC

During both the El Rito and Espanola meetings people raised the question of bringing back the trades as education programs. Bailey said the school is seriously looking at this and pointed to the NM 2016 State of the Workforce report showing where most of the employment growth is: Healthcare, social services, food services, teaching, computer systems/analysts. In addition to looking at the traditional trades Northern used to have, he talked about the college being happy to create programs that students/community want as long as there is a demonstrated need in the workforce and jobs are available.

He emphasized the “new trades” that are certificates and Associate level programs, such as in cyber security, computers fields, digital media, where in a short amount of time people can be trained for high-demand and high-paying jobs. He also said that in order to teach the trades and new trades, we will have to develop a different tuition model to make them affordable.

 

Bailey also stressed the point that the college has to continue to find ways to be “student ready,” to be able to help students succeed no matter what level they’re at when they arrive. In addressing audience questions, Bailey spoke of making Northern a school that does outreach to high schools in rural regions to help students can realistically go to college and succeed.

EL Rito Discussion
When it came to the challenges facing the El Rito campus, Bailey offered two new proposals to breath new life into the rural campus by “flipping” the main obstacles and disadvantage of high utilities costs and El Rito’s isolation to turn them into advantages.


Bailey taking audience questions. Photo courtesy of NNMC

Bailey, who when hired chose to make his home in El Rito, informed the audience that the school is in discussions with Kit Carson Electric Coop to locate a new photovoltaic solar power array on the El Rito campus. As described, Kit Carson is looking to locate 35 1 MB solar arrays and the El Rito campus is being considered as not only one of those 35, but one of the first group of six or seven. The solar array would yield long-term cost savings for the college and the surrounding community (after the first three years, the savings could be as much as 40%). Bailey says we’ll look into other alternative energy sources like biomass and wind with the goal of being a net energy producer. Bailey also said it could open up the opportunity for a solar electric academic program.

The second El Rito proposal is the possibility of bringing a national education program to the rural community. Bailey described his negotiations with Planet Athlete, a national athletic and academic prep school for students just out of high school that seeks to get them ready for college and college sports. Planet Athlete is seriously considering locating their program to El Rito because they require a place where students can focus on their academics and avoid distractions. At first the Planet Athlete students would be bused to Espanola for classes, but perhaps as early as January there will be classes held in El Rito. The El Rito classes would also be open for dual credit for Mesa Vista students and for the community.

Neither project is definite yet, but it is clear that the strategy (turning the disadvantages into advantages) is correct and we will pursue other projects.


Photo courtesy of NNMC

 

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