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Carlsbad to consider future of its New Mexico State campus

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CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — This city has assembled a task force to consider the future of its New Mexico State University Carlsbad campus, including the possibility of operating as an independent university.

The university system removed the president position in August from its Carlsbad and other branch campuses, leaving one executive with authority over all three, Mayor Dale Janway said, calling the decision “regrettable,” the Carlsbad Current-Argus reported.

He also said there is concern that resources will be diverted from Carlsbad to Las Cruces.

“We have outstanding faculty and staff here and want to make sure Carlsbad’s university is utilized to its full potential. We are also still in discussion with NMSU’s administrative team in Las Cruces to see if our concerns can be addressed,” Janway said.

Ken Van Winkle, who oversees the branch colleges in Alamogordo, Carlsbad and Grants, also is talking with the mayor.

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Van Winkle said he shared a document outlining the purpose of the university’s realignment and what it hoped to accomplish for the branches. He said the changes would “eliminate redundancy, enhance services” and “improve the Carlsbad student experience.”

University Chancellor Dan Arvizu appointed Van Winkle to act as the branches’ executive director and lead a transition to a more integrated model. At the time, a search committee was working to find a replacement for NMSU Carlsbad President John Gratton, who retired in June.

Eliminating the branch presidents’ positions came as universities struggled with the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, including decreased enrollment.

University President John Floros said last week that enrollment was down about 2,000 students across the entire system. The branch campuses in Alamogordo, Carlsbad, Doña Ana and Grants saw between a 12% and 39% decrease in fall enrollment.

The group tasked with planning the future of the Carlsbad campus is chaired by Craig Stephens, who said the task force hopes to complete its work before the upcoming legislative session.

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