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Your faculty and staff news since 1965
April 18, 2005
Volume 40, Number 9

Branch campus/state news

Vice Provost eyes future of New Mexico universities

By Carolyn Gonzales

In Taos, UNM’s Extended University has been asked to provide more coursework and programs in early childhood education. In Los Alamos, it’s computer science, while in Santa Fe it’s public administration. New Mexico’s higher education needs are as varied as its communities.

“The days when one higher education institution can be all things to all people are over,” said Jerónimo Domínguez, vice provost, Extended University.

Universities are developing delivery systems other than satellite, such as online, Web-based and video conferencing, to provide students with access to coursework and faculty. It is equally critical that we provide the support necessary for students to succeed, he said.

But that’s not all.

Pointing to a prior agreement between UNM, New Mexico State University and New Mexico Tech, Domínguez said that it is possible for the state’s educational institutions to work together to provide high quality programs.

Through WERC, waste-management education and research consortium, “Deans from the various engineering colleges worked together to provide workforce training needed by Los Alamos National Laboratory. Each institution participated in research and also provided coursework,” he said.

The state’s colleges are competing for enrollments, he said. “We need to create a cultural change away from that. It should’ve been done a long time ago.”

Recognizing that accreditation issues are critical, he said that curriculum equity needs to be supported. “We must get away from the idea that ‘our product is better than yours.’ Where there are inequities, we need to make a long-term commitment to resolve them. But where there is parity, we need to create a seamless environment,” he said.

Rather than having multiple institutions providing the same four-year degree program, we need to provide an environment where relevant coursework can be taken and applied toward the final two-years in a degree-granting program.

“Currently Highlands and NMSU offer degrees in social work. UNM doesn’t have a social work program, but we could provide an emphasis in social work through the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education. New Mexico doesn’t need a third institution offering a social work degree, but we do need good relationships with those schools to accept relevant coursework. We need those articulation agreements,” he said.
Domínguez added that as New Mexico’s resources shrink, we need greater cooperation between institutions. “Schools coming together makes good economic sense,” he said.

Domínguez said that we need to look at cooperation with the state’s two- and four-year institutions.

“San Juan College has a two-year early childhood education program that is as good as it gets. They have wonderful faculty, terrific students and a laboratory school like Manzanita. Their program and UNM’s should partner to raise the quality for all.”

The goal, he said, is to develop high quality programs together with shared ownership.