LAS VEGAS, NM ― Susan Decker is the new director for the Achieving in Research, Math and Science Center at New Mexico Highlands University.
The nationally acclaimed ARMAS Center provides comprehensive science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) support services to students.
“Throughout my career, my goal has always been to support student success through helping them reach their goals in STEM professions,” Decker said. “ARMAS is an exciting program because it looks at student success holistically, providing tutors, supplemental instruction, success coaches, internships and more. I am blessed to be the new director of a program that is already very successful.”
Previously, Decker directed the STEM Student Success Center at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, from 2011 – 2016. Her other experience includes directing the U.S. Department of Education Upward Bound Program at Northern Oklahoma University in Enid from 2008 – 2010, where she was also a grant writer. From 2001 – 2007, Decker was a grant writer and administrator for the Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology in Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology in Okmulgee.
She also taught as adjunct faculty at these institutions.
“There’s been a strong focus on granting writing in my career and one of my goals is write more grants that will help grow services for students and faculty who use the ARMAS Center. I’m passionate about conducting research-based improvements within programs I’ve managed and will also do this at ARMAS,” Decker said.
Decker said much of her work has focused on equity in education, especially for low income students who, like her, are also the first in their family to attend college.
“I feel like my own experience as a first-generation college student helps me relate to students from similar backgrounds and identify services that are most beneficial to this population. Many students from Highlands match this demographic and I’m looking forward to serving them and all students who access ARMAS services,” Decker said.
Decker earned her Ph.D. in education curriculum and social foundations from Oklahoma State University, where she also completed her M.S. in teaching, learning and leadership and her B.A. in English.
“The success of the ARMAS Center in providing support to Highlands’ students will be continued and enhanced with the experience, enthusiasm, and student-centered focus Susan Decker brings with her,” said Edward Martínez, former ARMAS director and current vice president for Strategic Enrollment Management. “Susan’s experience in writing grants and managing programs similar to the grants that started ARMAS allow her to hit the ground running to move ARMAS forward.”
Decker said the ARMAS staff reinforced her interest in the position.
“When I met the ARMAS staff during the interview process I was really impressed with their passion and commitment to students,” Decker said.
In 2015, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics named ARMAS for “Bright Spots” honors. In 2014, Excelencia in Education named ARMAS as one of the top college programs in the nation for increasing graduation rates among Hispanics.
The ARMAS Center at Highlands was established in 2009 with a $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Grants followed from the Kellogg Foundation, National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and more.
Elizabeth Ratzlaff was the coordinator for ARMAS since its inception and later served as its director from 2016 – 2017.