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Carlsbad eyes converting university branch into college

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CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — Carlsbad’s school board is voicing support for a proposal to convert the New Mexico State University branch campus in the southeastern New Mexico city into an independent community college.

The board voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of a resolution supporting the proposed conversion, which local officials contend would benefit students, faculty, staff and the community, the Carlsbad Current-Argus reported.

Mayor Dale Janway in 2020 created a city task force that studied several possible approaches. The task force ultimately presented the state Department of Higher Education with a report recommending conversion, Janway said.

Carlsbad officials said there is a desire for increased curriculum flexibility to meet needs of local employers, including additional vocational courses and certifications.

Creating an independent community college would require action by the New Mexico Legislature.

The university Board of Regents on Jan. 6 directed NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu to hire a consulting firm to study the conversion issue and provide a report to the regents.

Arvizu said he was unconvinced that Carlsbad residents fully grasped the intricacies and challenges of transitioning out of the NMSU system.

Kenneth Van Winkle, executive director of NMSU branch campuses, said he understood Carlsbad felt left out of NMSU decisions affecting the Carlsbad campus.

“Our position has always been that we want what’s best for the students in New Mexico, in particular Carlsbad. However, we feel that the best education that those students could have would be through the NMSU system,” Van Winkle said. “I think Carlsbad should stay in our system.”

NMSU’s main campus is in Las Cruces, 149 miles (240 kilometers) west of Carlsbad. NMSU also has branch campuses in Alamogordo and Grants.

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