Column By UNM President: Higher Education Fundamental to Los Alamos

Higher Education Fundamental to Los Alamos

By Robert G. Frank

UNM President

As the President of New Mexico’s flagship institution, I am proud to have a branch campus in Los Alamos, located in the heart of a premier science and technology community and home to the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

UNM Los Alamos (UNM-LA) has been serving Los Alamos and northern New Mexico since 1980 by preparing talented students to continue their academic journey at UNM’s main campus in Albuquerque. Our students’ foundational instruction at UNM Los Alamos is exceptional, as demonstrated by their high graduation rate (62 percent) and job placement rate in the workforce (81 percent). 

Higher education is about opportunity. A June 2013 report by the Georgetown Public Policy Institute Center on Education and Workforce indicated that by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs in the economy will require post-secondary education and training beyond high school, and 35 percent will require at least a bachelors degree; by 2020 the U.S. will also fall short by 5 million workers with post-secondary education. Jobs in STEHM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Healthcare, Mathematics) will grow the fastest among occupational clusters. UNM-LA’s curriculum has been responsive to these indicators and is predicated on building solid programs and growing to meet the economic and educational needs of northern New Mexico.

UNM Los Alamos is serving the Los Alamos community via its many partnerships with Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos Public Schools, Los Alamos County, and several pueblos in northern New Mexico. A branch campus has a dual purpose: to serve its students and to serve its community.  UNM-LA demonstrates this dynamic relationship in its delivery of dual credit courses for high school students, the newly implemented Fire Science degree, Tech Frontiers program, and a STEM Academy. UNM Extended University further connects Los Alamos to UNM’s main campus in Albuquerque by offering Bachelor, Master and Doctoral degrees for those individuals with aspirations for advanced degrees utilizing the latest in distance education delivery technology. By listening to community needs and working collaboratively to develop educational opportunities, UNM-LA is a strong and vital contributor to the quality of life in Los Alamos.

I am pleased to see the support UNM-LA has received for the upcoming mil levy special election. Recent bipartisan endorsements transcend the political discourse we experience at the national level and define a strength found in Los Alamos, a community that respects and values education as a fundamental cornerstone to its future.

The special election will determine Los Alamos’s capacity for higher education in the years to come. I can assure you that UNM is dedicated to developing educational programs that support key sectors of northern New Mexico’s economic and social development.

As the Sept. 17 mail-in deadline for ballots approaches, every voter has an opportunity to enable future generations access to educational services, and to achieve their academic and career goals.   

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