Higher education master plan up for discussion at town hall meetings

Argen Duncan

Members of the public have a chance to tell state officials what they want in higher education in New Mexico.

Higher Education Department Secretary Viola Florez and members of her staff are scheduled to hold town hall meetings Monday in Clovis and Portales to collect input about their state higher education master plan.

“We don’t have an agenda other than to listen to what people have to say,” said HED Director of Communications Laura Mulry.

Mulry said department employees want diverse individuals’ comments on strengths of and ways to improve the state’s higher education system. She said they won’t pretend to know more about communities than local institutions, but they want to know how those schools can work together and meet needs.

People who can’t attend the meetings can comment on the department website, www.hed.state.nm.us.

HED leaders plan to finalize the master plan by the end of the year, Mulry said.

Eastern New Mexico University President Steven Gamble said he thought it was important for people to voice their opinions and desires for the master plan.

Clovis Community College Executive Vice President Becky Rowley said this is the first time the Higher Education Department has worked on a statewide master plan, and higher education is facing a number of challenges.

Rowley and Gamble said a master plan could make higher education more efficient, such as by cutting down on duplication of courses offered.

“It would give all of us a little bit more guidance,” Rowley said.

Now, New Mexico colleges and universities have their own strategic plans and operate independently of each other.

“At the same time, while we do need more structure, we do need to ensure in this plan that we have local control of this university through our board of Regents,” Gamble said.

The plan deals with such issues as governance, funding, equitable college access.

Fast Facts

What: Higher education master plan town hall meetings

Portales:

When: 1-3 p.m. Monday

Where: Eastern New Mexico University, Campus Union Building Zia Room

Information: Patrice Caldwell at 562-2315 or patrice.caldwell@enmu.edu

Clovis:

When: 10 a.m. to noon

Where: Clovis Community College, Town Hall room, near the south entrance to the main campus building

Master plan information: www.enmu.edu/nmhed or www.hed.state.nm.us, under the Quick Links tab