Branch campus/state news
UNM-West serves students west of the river
By Carolyn Gonzales
It was 1850 when New York Tribune owner and editor Horace Greeley said, “Go West, young man, and grow up with the country.” A political reformer and newspaper editor who used his paper to sound his support for labor, homesteads and the frontier, Greeley also reported on the Colorado gold strikes.
Although gold isn’t to be found on Albuquerque’s west mesa, Greeley’s admonition still rings true. The difficulty in crossing the river to go east, the housing and industrial boom in Rio Rancho and Albuquerque’s burgeoning west side all make going – or staying – west appealing.
UNM-West has also experienced west side growth.
UNM’s presence in Rio Rancho began in Rio Rancho
Elementary School in 1990. In 1996, the Rio Rancho Center moved to a storefront.
Now expanded, UNM-West is housed in the former offices of Ford dealer Don Chalmers on the bluff overlooking S.R. 528. The 6,000 sq. ft. facility offers three classrooms with 30+ seating capacity and one conference/seminar room. All are wired for video conferencing and Instructional Television (ITV).
“Mr. Chalmers wants what’s best for the west side. He even gave up his own office in the building because of his commitment to provide strong educational opportunities in the community,” said Jerónimo Domínguez, vice provost, Extended University.
The name has been changed to UNM-West because programs reach out not only to Rio Rancho residents, but to any who would find accessing a campus west of the river attractive.
“Our reach, potentially, is south to Westgate and north as far as southern Santa Fe. With the right programs, people wouldn’t mind the commute,” Domínguez said. Other areas readily making up UNM-West’s target market include Corrales, Placitas, Taylor Ranch, Paradise Hills, Albuquerque’s North Valley and Bernalillo.
“Our goal is to offer UNM students a choice and convenience. UNM-West does that,” said Domínguez.
With a focus on engineering, business and education courses as well as “shut out” classes, those courses students are unable to get into because they are full, UNM-West is providing opportunities. David Stuart, associate provost, Academic Affairs, provided the list.
Among the ‘shut out’ classes are English 101, 102 and 220, Math 121, History 101, Communications and Journalism 130 and Marketing 303 and 323, all offered at UNM-West.
UNM-West is offering 36 classes and serving 355 students.
More classes and students are anticipated for summer and fall courses. “As word gets out, enrollment will increase,” Domínguez said.
He said UNM intends to pursue the high school market. “By offering concurrent enrollment we can attract students who will look to UNM as a school of choice,” he said.
Rio Rancho High School, Albuquerque’s Cibola High School and Bernalillo High School are located strategically for this type of program.
Methods of providing courses vary. In addition to offering ITV and online courses, UNM-West offers a variety of eight-week courses, a break from the traditional 16-week academic semester.
Domínguez said higher education needs to catch up to lifestyle changes. “We noticed the popularity of courses being offered in the second eight weeks of the semester. Students may drop a class early, but still need to pick up the three credit hours. Having courses start the second eight weeks of the semester makes that possible,” he said.
UNM-West is more than a center and so, Domínguez said, they need a coordinated effort with all main campus units. “This requires a total commitment by UNM. We must work with Academic Affairs and the appropriate schools and colleges as well as with Student Affairs, Admissions, Financial Aid and other Student Services – especially Recruitment. We want an auxiliary bookstore with both textbooks and merchandise. We want to involve Continuing Education and the Health Sciences Center,” he said.
UNM has impacted the west side for a long time. “We know that 43 percent of our alumni live within 25 miles of UNM,” said Karen Abraham, director, Alumni Relations.
“People from Rio Rancho and the west side have made the trek to main campus. We are now taking UNM west,” said Domínguez.