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Northern New Mexico College
2014 Fall Convocation Remarks
President Nancy Rusty Barceló
August 21, 2014

On behalf of the Board of Regents it is my honor and pleasure to welcome new and returning students, faculty and staff to the 2014 Convocation. In previous years convocation was a gathering of the College’s faculty. This year we decided to take a more traditional approach to the Convocation by coming together as a campus community, including staff, parents and students.

Academic convocations historically represents a passage of new students and transfers to Northern New Mexico College into a community of learners and a faculty dedicated to excellence. My hope is that future convocations will be more reflective of traditional pageantry and will grow as our campus community becomes more involved in their development.

You know, I like the idea of being outside because it reminds me of our connection as a college to the land, sky, sun, and water that surrounds and sustains us.  As I look around and see greatness of the surrounding mountains, the rich blue sky, majestic clouds and shimmering trees of different shades, reminds me of the quality and excellence of the highest order and how we as a college are striving for the same.

While our journey has been paved with some bumps in the road and even some detours, we have, nonetheless, stayed the course. In fact, in our 104 year history, Northern has seen many changes and overcome many challenges. These successes are attributed to the resilience of our faculty, staff, students and the support of the northern New Mexico community who believe in the college as an important roadway to the success of the region.

Consequently, I would like to thank the staff, faculty and students who remain at the forefront of re-imagining our College as a comprehensive four-year institution that provides students with expansive opportunities ranging from GEDs to certificates, AA degrees and over a dozen baccalaureate degrees.

Very recently, we have entered into partnerships with other institutions to bring the region access to graduate degrees in the fields of education and engineering.

I can’t think of a better example of the College’s growth than the recent ABET accreditation of our Bachelor of Information Engineering Technology program. The IET program, which is now the most affordable accredited engineering program in the southwestern United States, helps students develop expertise in the areas of software engineering computer networks, cyber security, web engineering and databases.

The accreditation will not only encourage more students to pursue an engineering degree at Northern but will also have a positive impact on the college as the external community can see we are moving forward with a level of quality and expectations consistent with other institutions across the country.  Let’s give a round of applause to the Engineering faculty and staff for their hard work and resilience.

We are also currently pursuing accreditation in the College of Business Administration. We are confident the results will be positive because of how far the department has come with its curriculum, outstanding teaching and the quality of program graduates.

Speaking specifically to our new students, faculty and staff, I want to thank you for choosing Northern in spite of what you might have heard about the future of this college. Your contributions will matter as you become more involved in the life of the college from the classroom to participating in student organizations to governance opportunities. Your voice and input is important as we continue to build upon the image of our College. Let me also assure you of something, we will be here for another 100 years!

I also want to encourage all students to embrace any student leadership opportunities that fall within your reach. In November we hope that voters across the state will approve a measure that would allow for a voting Student Regent among our Governing Board.

In the next month the Dean of Students will be organizing nominations and election for Student Senate positions, including senators, student senate president, vice president, treasurer, etc. I believe, and research supports, that these activities only enhance your experience in the classroom and combine to increase your preparation for the workforce.

Also, I have requested that Provost Martinez work closely with the faculty and students to make their governing bodies stronger and more representative of their constituents. We need your input and critique through civil discourse and processes if we are to continue to move this institution forward…I believe in transparency and recognize that we won’t always agree on how to best move forward. But I assure you that your voice, presence and participation is valued.

In fact, I have charged the Offices of Human Resources and Advancement to work with staff to develop a Staff Senate that will further facilitate shared governance and avenues for greater input on matters that impact them.

Certainly, there are still critical issues we must address including enrollment to budget management, but if we work together, I am confident we can arrive at recommendations that represent the best interests of our students and community.  We are exploring a number of outreach and enrollment strategies with the Board of Regents that will benefit greatly from your input and critique.  I understand that your first responsibility is your studies and/or your work, but my hope is that you will be able to participate to some degree in strengthening our College.

Some of you have heard me say, northern New Mexico deserves a college with all the services and academic programs found on other campuses in the state. Not only does the region deserves a College second to none, I am committed to ensuring that Northern remains affordable and accessible to residents of New Mexico and beyond. As it stands, Northern is the most affordable four-year institution in the state, and the best value in all of the southwestern United States. I also want to reaffirm my belief that northern New Mexico is deserving of an institution that offers four-year degrees. Not only are our residents deserving but they are capable of transforming their lives, and those of their children and family by earning a baccalaureate degree.

This year we are looking forward to so much. As many of you know, Northern is home to two very successful basketball programs. Last year both the women’s and men’s basketball team went to regionals and the men’s team became the regional champions, earning them the opportunity to participate in the NAIA National Tournament. As a result, Northern will be the host institution for the 2015 Regional Tournament. So start stocking up on your Eagles apparel.

Therefore, it was only appropriate that we add a cheer and dance squad to our list of athletic programs. This year coach Leo Jaramillo is building the program and I have been very pleased with his success in recruiting students and drawing the interest of the community by hosting youth cheer camps throughout the summer.

Also, this summer the College hosted the 2014 MALCS summer institute that brought over 300 community members, Latinas and indigenous women in higher education throughout the country to the El Rito Campus for three days. It tested our capacity but faculty and staff came together in amazing ways to make sure our guests had a wonderful experience.

This Fall we will complete the development of a Veterans Center that will not only work with potential students, but with all members of the community who need assistance in transitioning to civilian life.

Over the summer months, the advisement team has been working hard on developing a comprehensive advisement model that aims to increase student retention, specifically among first year students. To aid in this effort, we have launched a new degree audit system, DegreeWorks, which will better guide advisors and faculty when helping students prepare their schedules.

Increasing retention and graduation rates is a major priority for the upcoming year. This priority stems not only from our commitment to student success but also from changes to the state’s funding formula. Leading these efforts will be our new Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Pedro Martinez. In just a couple months, Dr. Martinez has brought a renewed commitment to academics, focusing on student success and collaboration between faculty, staff and administration. This year we officially re-constituted the Business Administration Department as the College of Business Administration. In January, the Department of Engineering will become the College of Engineering.

I am also pleased to introduce Dr. Vilá who recently joined Northern as the Dean for the College of Education. Dr. Vilá has been nationally recognized for his service in the assessment and accreditation of teacher preparation programs. I am certain that his experience is just what we need to secure national accreditation for our College of Education.

In June we also launched our community rate program, an initiative aimed at cultural sustainability, specifically in the arts. The new rate allows community members to take studio arts courses for $100 per credit hour. The involvement of community artists is essential in providing our students with the classroom experiences that enhance learning and appreciation for northern New Mexico’s heritage.

We are working tirelessly to make your campus life experience a positive one. You may notice that we’ve spent nearly $2 million dollars on security cameras and panic stations like the one behind you. We have also improved upon our food services by hiring full-time staff to run the cafeteria in the administration building. Please invite your family and friends to join you on campus for one of the most affordable and tasty meals you can get in the valley.

Please also be on the look-out for some young faces. We are working with local high schools to bring more dual credit students on to campus. This semester, we are also piloting a model with Peñasco high school that will allow students to earn an associate’s degree while still in high school.

As you can see, Northern is alive, well, and you are in the right place. But don’t just take my word for it; in a few minutes you’re going hear, directly from a student, why this place is special. Whether you’re here for a certificate, leisure, AA degree or a baccalaureate degree, Northern will serve you. I want to ask student for your continue trust in the work of the administration, the service of our staff and the expertise of our faculty to prepare you for the workforce. Be forthcoming with your concerns and please be good stewards of your campus community.

I thank the faculty and staff for your continued contributions to Northern. Thank you for your patience as we stretch beyond our growing pains. I look forward to working with you as we continue to meet the educational, cultural, and economic needs of the region. I value all that you do.

Choose us for our value, our quality degree and continuing education programs in diverse areas of study, our experienced faculty, and NORTHERN provides students with unique opportunities for academic, personal and professional growth. “You will have personalized attention, something difficult to get at larger colleges. We provide strong hands-on experiences from day one.” –Dr. Ivan Lopez, Dean, College of Engineering & Technology
The Northern Foundation remains committed to stimulate leadership, promote equity, and grow resources and philanthropy in the Española Valley and surrounding rural areas. Over the past twenty years, we have granted $1.3 million to support over 1,250 NNMC students.
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