Skip directly to content

LWV Forum For UNM-LA Advisory Board Candidates

on October 5, 2019 - 8:28am
Candidates for UNM-LA Advisory Board Position 3 are David Hampton, left, and Pat Soran. Laura Burrows, also a candidate for this seat, was unable to attend the Election Forum. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/
Candidates for Position 4 are left, Stephen Boerigter and Chris Luchini. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/
Los Alamos Daily Post

It was all about experience versus fresh perspective during the Los Alamos League of Women Forum Thursday at UNM-LA.

During the portion of the forum devoted to candidates running to fill two seats on the UNM-LA Advisory Board, incumbent Pat Soran is challenged for Position 3 by Laura Fellows and David Hampton. Incumbent Stephen Boerigter and challenger Chris Luchini are contending for Position 4.

Burrows  was not able to attend the Forum due to illness. She sent a statement. Fellows has a degree in biology and has worked for the Smithsonian, the Chicago Field Museum, the Aerospace Education Center , the Little Rock Museum of Science and Technology and the Los Natural History Museum in various scientific and education positions.

“The mission of UNM-LA is important to this community and to me personally as a source of higher education, for associates level education, to instruction and training in the trades, for preparation for undergraduate level degrees and ongoing education for all that seek access to higher education,” Burrows wrote. “The makeup of an advisory board should, in my opinion include perspectives from the community that are not employed or associated directly with the faculty or staff of that organization, while having the requisite background to add value to the board.:

Burrows has served on a number of corporate and non-profit boards, including the Pajarito Environmental Education Center.

“I am confident after having reviewed the minutes of the UNM-LA Advisory Board that I am the right person for the job,” she wrote.

Areas of special interest to candidate Hampton include expanding the college’s work with Los Alamos National Laboratory and concurrent enrollment for high school students. He points to UNM-LA’s health care professionals programs as an example of how UNM-LA can serve students seeking jobs.

“I would like to see UNM-LA expand to a four-year university,” Hampton said. “We would better able to balance all of the requirements of the community.”

An important mission of the college should be to meet the job needs of students and the hiring needs of local employers, he said. To this end, he would like to expand internship opportunities.

Newly retired, Hampton is seeking to become more involved with the community.

“The goal is to build community and to leverage the skills on the various boards to benefit everyone, he said.”

Soran is seeking another term on the UNM-LA Board (position 3). He first became involved with UNM-LA during the unsuccessful UNM-LA mil levy campaign, he said.  Soran was appointed to the board in 2016 to serve the remainder the term of a member who resigned. In 2018, Soran and his wife Ann Hayes founded the Community Endowment for UNM-LA through the Los Alamos Community Foundation. His next gift to the campus was building the ceremonial mace used during graduation.

Soran has been an active community volunteer for a long time. He pointed to the founding of the school lunch buddy program as one of his volunteer achiebvements.

“UNM-LA has many programs that can meet the needs of the lab,” Soran said. We need to get more young people employed!”

The newly appointed UNM Provost is James Holloway, who Soran has known for years.

“He has a vision of UNM-LA as part of the UNM Community,” Soran said.

He praised the UNM-LA staff, but said UNM-LA needs to have the ability to hire  and retain more staff.

Soran is anxious to continue serving on the UNM-LA Advisory Board.

“If you’ve done well, you should do good,” he said.

Luchini is challenging the incumbent for Position 4. He is an entrepreneur with a science and technology background.

“I’ve hired graduates of UNM-LA,” he said.

Luchini advised a friend’s daughter to check out the trade programs at UNM-LA, he said.

“She went through the welding program and is now making $85,000 a year,” Luchini said. “She’s 19!”

UNM-LA needs to meet the demands of students and employers currently, but it’s crucial to be looking at future demand as well, Luchini said.

“We need to be agile,” he said. “We need to listen to the community, the students and the employers.”

Luchini said he hopes to bring an outside perspective to UNM-LA that “is fresh and hopefully adds value.”

Advisory Board President Stephen Boerigter is running to maintain Position 4 on the Board.

“Part of the reason I ran for the seat is that I wanted to change UNM-LA to better serve the community and we have,” he said.

Boerigter believes the academic and the technical programs at UNM-LA complement each other.

“You bring your whole mind to your job,” he said.

The core classes at UNM-LA help people become lifelong learners, Boerigter said.

Whether a student is a new high school graduate or a returning student, “What’s key is to provide high quality education.”

Boerigter said a culture of cooperation seems to be replacing a culture of competition between the Albuquerque campus and UNM-LA. This brings added opportunities for the local campus.

“With the technology available today, we have an opportunity to grow distance education,” he said. “After eight years on the Board and seven years as chair, I have found you can make a difference. I think I can help continue the movement forward.”