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NMJC board adopts student success program

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New Mexico Junior College’s board of trustees agreed to reallocate $180,000 for an Academic Success Center.

The money was originally earmarked last month for a woman’s golf program development.

Interim NMJC president Steve McCleery told the board he recognized the need to add women’s sports to the school’s athletic program, but he is concerned because student academic success rates have dropped.

His written presentation to the board said, “After much thought and several campus discussions, I would like for you to consider reallocating these funds toward the development of an Academic Success Center. The reallocated funds would be utilized to provide 2 Academic Success Coaches. These Academic Success Coaches would be housed in the student learning space in Caster/SMAC. All students are welcome. I realize that we need to add women’s sports programs.

“However, I also recognize that Student Academic Success rates have dropped significantly. If we add another sport prior to addressing the need to develop a more robust Student Academic Success model, we are not fulfilling our mission of promoting success through learning. Additionally, for us to make significant progress towards adding more women’s sports to our athletic program, we must remodel and enlarge the kitchen area and build more student housing. We are currently planning to bring the cafeteria remodel and campus housing project to you at the December board meeting.”

Members of the board engaged in lively discussion of McCleery’s proposal and the importance of adding women’s sports to the already robust athletic program the college, but unanimously agreed the academic program at the college needs to be maintained and strengthened.

During a telephone interview Friday afternoon, McCleery said he has walked around the campus talking with students and learned from them many are struggling with issues that make it difficult for them to succeed academically.

“What those students need is someone who knows who they are and can help them find the help they need,” McCleery said. “When we start interviewing for the people to work in the program, we’ll be looking for people who will really care about students and who will be resourceful about helping them.”

McCleery said he hopes to have the program ready to serve students by the time the spring semester begins in January.

At McCleery’s request, the board also approved the items the college will ask the New Mexico Legislature to consider during the 30-day legislative session that will begin in January.

The college’s priorities include $3 million for a Technology Center, $400,000 for equipping the Technology Center Recurring Funding Projects and $200,000 for recurring expenditures.

The latter funds would be used to hire and maintain two career and life skills coaches for the NMJC Student Academic Success Centers. The individuals will provide career and academic support, advising, academics, and tutoring services for NMJC students.

“Our goal is to empower students for high-skilled, high wage, and high demand careers, while developing the professional skills, technical knowledge, academic foundation, and real-world experiences to assure their success upon graduation,” McCleery said.

In another matter involving the Legislature, the board approved approved a contract with Robert Rhodes to act as a liaison between the college and the Legislature. The contract, which includes the months of Nov. to Feb. will keep Rhodes in Santa Fe meeting with members of the Legislature, representing the school at hearings, and keeping McCleery informed about the times he needs to be in Santa Fe.

The cost to the college will be about $26,000 plus incidental expenses.

The board also approved another funding request that will move $600,000 from reserves into the NMJC succession planning account to cover the cost of the necessary funding for potential position reclassifications or making necessary market driven decisions for positions that are critical to serving students but are not presently filled.

Those positions include a counselor and a key maintenance person. In addition, the college must cover the cost of paying the recently retired NMJC president, Kelvin Sharp, until his contract expires in February, the cost incurred with the interim president’s salary and benefits, and the cost associated with the presidential search.

Josh Morgan, NMJC vice-president for finance, reported the audit of the college’s finances were almost complete, but that it would not be released to the public until January. He said the audit was “clean, before introducing college personnel who facilitated the audit. They are: Stacey Wynn – NMJC controller; Tina

Kunko – NMJC foundation controller; Kerrie

Mitchell – director of financial aid; Natalie

Bass – executive assistant to the vice president for finance; Amy Solano – accounting technician; Raquel Herevia – accounts payable clerk; Regina Palmer – cashier; JoeMike Gomez – coordinator of purchasing; Melanie Garcia – human resources and payroll coordinator; Julie Buchanan – director of bookstore services; Bill Kunko – director of computer information systems; George Garcia – database administrator/programmer analyst; Ruth Rios – financial aid specialist; Irene Cruce – cashier; and Kim Williams – cashier.

Morgan said the hard work and loyalty of the employees were essential to the operation of the college and to a successful audit.

In other business the board approved amending the bylaws of the New Horizon Foundation and tabled action how to implement the recently announced OSHA mandates related to COVID-19 vaccines and wearing masks.

Under the terms of the present bylaws, all members of the board of directors of New Horizon Foundation (“New Horizon”) must be appointed by the NMJC board of trustees. The bylaws of New Horizon provide the board will be at least five but no more than seven members. The term of office for each member is three years. If a New Horizons director position is vacant a person may be elected as a director to fill a vacancy either for a full three-year term or for the remainder of the term of the director being replaced. The New Horizons board is currently composed of Steve McCleery, Guy Kesner, Gregg Fulfer, Tres Hicks, and Gary Eidson.

The amended bylaws provide the New Horizons board will serve staggered three-year terms. Henceforward, members of the New Horizons board will be assigned an initial term on the board of directors — initially some would serve 3 years, some would serve 2 years and some would serve 1 year — and after the first cycle of elections, members of the board will serve staggered 3-year terms.

Scotty Holloman, general counsel for NMJC recommended that the board table enacting any rules implementing the OSHA guidelines related to vaccines and mask wearing related to the COVID-19 pandemic until pending court cases are decided.

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