Letter to the Editor: We Have a Wonderful Opportunity at this Cross Road for UNM-LA … I Would Like to be a Part of the Solution

By Michelle Hall
President, Science Education Solutions
Los Alamos

Our college, UNM-LA as we most often refer to it, has met or exceeded each of 10 metrics set by the state for two-year colleges for many years running.

It ranks first in the state in four of the 10 metrics (New Mexico Association of Community Colleges Annual Report, 2012.)

For example, of the two-year colleges in the state, UNM-LA had the highest percentage of students (92.7 percent) who obtained employment or continued their education at a four-year school upon completion of their studies at UNM-LA.

It is a gem in the rough that we too often overlook, but it nonetheless continues to serve significant communities within our county with high quality programs focused on needs within our community.

A new Fire Science program has been implemented this year and an Emergency Medical Services and Criminal Science programs are coming on board next year to ensure our community has well-trained fire, medical and police departments in the state.

It continues to offer key Applied Sciences degrees that produce technicians ready for jobs in electro-mechanical engineering, nanotechnology, solar technology and robotics.

Less known is that it offers a greater variety of foreign language courses than any other two-year and most four year institutions in the state, thanks to the wonderful diversity of the heritage and the high levels of academic achievement within our community.

This year alone, UNM-LA has waived more than $100,000 in tuition fees for our high school students taking dual credit courses. State funding for higher education has significantly declined over the past several years putting many of these high quality programs at risk.

To address this reality, the faculty and staff have been diligently working to develop a strategic plan that helps them stay financially viable without sacrificing quality or the programs we have come to take for granted.

I have been fortunate to collaborate with a number of faculty and staff over the years. I would like to help them redefine their future in ways that allow them to continue to enrich our community. Thus, I am seeking a position on the UNM-LA Advisory Board in the Feb. 5 election.

I bring experience as a former faculty member at the University of Arizona, specializing in geophysics and science education.

I served on state committees that aligned curriculum at our two-year institutions with degree programs at the university, helped develop a new degree program in the College of Science for secondary science teacher preparation, have published both college and high school text books, lead national education programs for large scientific organizations, and presently own a small business in Los Alamos that provides science enrichment programs for teens in northern New Mexico.

Each of these experiences leads me to believe that we have a wonderful opportunity at this cross road for UNM-LA, and I would like to be a part of the solution. I would appreciate your vote on Feb.5.

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