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Thursday, December 25, 2008

New Nursing Program at UNM-Taos

Since the inception of UNM’s- BSN satellite program in Taos that began in January 2007, community health care providers and future students were excited about the program and disheartened when the announcement came that the funding was no longer in place to continue. The last class will graduate in the summer of 2009. Thanks to the vision and hard work of Jim Gilroy, Dean of Instruction, UNM-Taos was awarded a New Mexico HED grant to initiate an Associate Degree in Nursing program at UNM-Taos. This program is projected for the fall of 2009, pending approval of the New Mexico Board of Nursing. Holy Cross Hospital (HCH) will collaborate with UNM-Taos on the program implementation and provide state of the art training in their 48 bed facility. The program will be 2 years in length after completion of the pre-requisites. All course work and clinical training will be available in Taos. UNM-Taos will utilize a nursing educational facility located at the UNM-Taos Med Center location (across the street from HCH) which contains a classroom, lab and office space for the program. This new and exciting program will admit 16 students with applications taken in the late spring of 2009. Successful graduates will be awarded an Associate of Science in Nursing degree and be eligible to take the RN exam for licensure. Each year HCH provides $200,000 in scholarships for high school students entering the nursing profession as a career. Mountain Home Health Care and Hospice provides $5,000 per year for any student interested in working at Mountain Home Health Care upon graduation. The Intent of the proposed UNM-Taos ADN-RN program is to prepare, educate and support successful nursing professionals in a multicultural rural setting in Northern New Mexico. Due to the severe nursing shortage in the area, new graduates will have opportunities to fill vacancies at HCH, community clinics, physician offices, home health care facilities and the Taos Living Center. The mission of the UNM-Taos ADN-RN program is to develop health care professionals to be clinically competent and culturally sensitive in delivering care to clients in a rural setting. The vision for the new UNM-Taos ADN-RN program is that it will be recognized for excellence in educating responsible, competent, highly qualified, knowledgeable, skills oriented and caring Registered Nurses in Northern New Mexico. Expected ADN-RN program educational outcomes of the UNM-Taos ADN-RN program would include: Utilize critical thinking and the nursing process in decision making to provide safe, quality and comprehensive nursing care for rural clients and their families. Communicates therapeutically with multiple rural clients and their families in the provision of their care. Integrates the teaching-learning process in the delivery of care to multiple rural clients and their families to meet their needs for health maintenance, promotion and /or restoration. Now, UNM-Taos and HCH are prepared and can provide an innovative, sustainable, high quality ADN-RN Program which will serve the needs of the community. This could be one of the most important programs offered in Northern New Mexico. For further information on admission requirements, pre-requisites or questions call: Kathy Falkenhagen MSN, RN Director of Nursing ADN-RN Program UNM-Taos 575-741-1367

Monday, December 22, 2008

Calling All Creative Writers!

UNM has created a new, multi-genre course in Creative Writing that allows writers of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction to develop projects together in one workshop. For the new year, UNM-Taos will be offering Taoseñas and Taoseños the first-ever section of this class to be taught in the north. Beginning January 20, writers will meet two afternoons a week (Tuesdays & Fridays, 2:30 'til 4:30) for an eight-week, intensive writing workshop. Participants will receive structured writing guidance while reading Janet Burroway's textbook "Imaginative Writing: the Elements of Craft" as well a rich selection of original work from regional authors and poets. And class will be held right in downtown Civic Plaza, so you won't need to drive out to Klauer campus in Ranchos. Please feel free to call the instructor directly (737.6257) for more info about English 224: Creative Writing (Course Registration Number: 35905).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Can Spring be Far Behind?

The days are getting shorter and the fall semester at UNM-Taos is once again coming to a close. The winter holidays are already upon us, the new schedule of classes is on the streets and posted at It’s time to start thinking about what courses you want to take for spring semester. But don’t wait till 2009---the registration office staff at 115 Civic Plaza Drive is ready to help you enroll right now. Advisors are easy to get in to see. Not a single class has filled. Isn’t this the perfect time to make some decisions about your future? Friday, December 5 the UNM-Taos International Exchange Programs will be hosting a Multicultural Day at the Klauer campus. According to project coordinator Pearl Huang the purpose of the open house is to create an event where students who have studied abroad can share their experiences, tell their stories and show images of their travels. If you have ever thought about participating in the international program, this is a great opportunity to ask questions and see what the program has done for others. It’s all free, and it is open to students, faculty and the general public alike. Starting at 2 p.m. and running through 6:30, some featured events of the open house will include a pot luck table with international foods and a showing of a program on the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremonies, along with power point and slide show presentations by students which illustrate the great learning experience that international travel provides. Dr. Bogenschild, Director of International Programs at main campus, will be on hand to talk about the new Rome Center in Italy which is now offering a full semester of learning in Rome for UNM students. Student Government has once again provided its support in the form of a cheerful bonfire outdoors complete with hot cider that will take the chill off a wintry day. If you haven’t been out to the campus south of town recently it will be a good opportunity to take a look around. UNM-Taos students can take full advantage of the opportunity to live and study in a foreign country by signing up for course credit for trips to Peru, China, Mexico, Spain, Bali and Italy. This can be a tremendous learning experience, as UNM-Taos student Samuel Favero can attest---he was recently named the top foreign student at Northwest University at Xi’An, China. “Xi’An University Northwest has one of the highest reputations in China,” Huang explained. “Like our Princeton, Cornell or Stanford, and their standards are very high. It is a great honor for our student to be recognized in this manner. Sam is pursuing a degree in International Studies, and he was concerned about his language capability at first, but when a student is willing and focused, he can achieve great things.” To learn more about Samuel H. B. Favero and the International Programs, go to and click on international programs. MONTES, VINCENT AND NIEMEYER The sign outside the new office at 201 Cruz Alta Road, just across from Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, announces, “UNM-Taos Academy of Sciences and Environmental Studies”. It’s not only the new home of the Sciences Academy; it doubles as home base for Title V---the federal program for Hispanic serving institutions. Juan Montes, along with Dean of Instruction Jim Gilroy, put together the grant proposal that brought the Title V money to Taos. He is now shepherding the whole Title V project along with Dr. Larry Vincent and Rich Niemeyer. According to Vincent, it’s a three part program. “We call it the UNM-Taos Student Diversity Project, and it is made up of three parts. First, we have established a water information clearing house called the UNM-Taos Water Information Institute. Second---and this is what Juan Montes has been coordinating---is a recruitment program for 9th grade students through high school. We work at getting them prepared for college, getting them enrolled and keeping them in college. Then, hopefully, we move them on to four year universities. The third part, which runs hand in hand with the other two, is the intern program, and Rich Niemeyer handles that. He is getting kids involved in field work with the help of federal and state agencies.” “Actually there are two parallel internship programs,” Niemeyer explained. “In the Park Service program, we recruit students to work for the summer in national parks. They’re paid salaries from 10-14 dollars per hour, depending on experience. Typically, we find they stay as long as they can, because once they get there they really love it. “The other part of the program is new, and part of the Title V grant. These interns are focused on local agencies---Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Soil Conservation Service---any natural resource institution interested in working with an intern. The intent is for the students to gain STEM experience; that’s science, technology, engineering and math.” Although Title V is set up to support Hispanic serving institutions, Niemeyer and Vincent were both adamant about welcoming a diverse clientele. “Only Hispanics can apply? Absolutely not,” Niemeyer said. “The program is targeted toward diversity populations, but that does not preclude anybody from applying and participating in the internships. The emphasis is in trying to recruit students with diversity backgrounds. Any student who hears about this program is encouraged to apply.” “The grant proposal itself says Hispanic and Native American,” Vincent added. “Diversity means everybody. It’s inclusive; we don’t want anybody to be left out. “The Water Institute is the same way. Our purpose is to gather information, organize it and get it out to the public. We’re not involved in any sort of policy making, any sort of water planning. We’re not getting involved in any litigation that goes on. We’re simply providing information to any and all users in our target area: North Central New Mexico. And we operate this office with the help of Juan’s great team of students. They’ll greet you and direct you to who you need to talk to.” Call 758-1581 if you are interested in learning more. Sign-up for these intern programs is happening now.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

UNM Taos International Programs Open House Event

As our Fall Semester is drawing closer to the holiday season, UNM Taos International Programs will host an Open House on December 5th, 2008, Friday at the Klauer Campus from 2:00 to 6:30 p.m. This is a day to share study abroad experiences, see wonderful films and images from our student's travels and learning, and to learn more about our study abroad and exchange courses. It is our way to say "THANK YOU“ for supporting our international and exchange programs. The event will feature a film on the 2008 Beijing Olympics Opening Extravaganza. Our guest speaker is Dr. Bogenschild, Director of UNM International Programs who will give a presentation on the new Rome Center in Italy. There will also be presentations and slide shows presented by UNM Taos faculty who will be leading a study abroad courses in 2009. We will have refreshments, music, and an international pot luck table (you can bring your own favorite food to share), a bonfire, hot cider and popcorn. So come join us and be part of our multicultural learning community. For more information contact coordinator at:575/737-6528, 575/776-5126,

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Post Script to a Road Trip

By the time this column comes out major events in this country will have played themselves out, and we will be looking at a whole new set of cards in the hand that we as a society have been dealt. In fact, to push the metaphor farther, it appears that not only the cards but the very rules of the game we’re playing will have changed by then. But in the time warp caused by the confluence of an historic two year political campaign, an economy continuing to worsen on a daily basis, and undeniable signs that the physical health of our planet is deteriorating at an ever increasing rate, perhaps we should look back to that age of innocence we enjoyed just a few short days ago.

My wife Linda and I spent a good part of the month of October driving in a gigantic 3,000 mile loop around the midsection of the country, tracking down relatives we had not seen in too many years. We worried about the cost of such an undertaking, but couldn’t say when,if ever, we might have the resources to take the trip in the uncertain future.

The late autumn weather was predictably varied but always beautiful. Fall was slowly and gracefully giving way to winter, and that endless sea of rolling grassland known as the prairie states was once again settling into the last phase of harvest time.

People went about their business as if oblivious to the monumental forces at work around them. Yard signs and the occasional political bumper sticker turned up, but not in anywhere near the numbers one might have expected, and with none of the viciousness expressed by some of the candidates and their supporters; there appeared to be a sense of restraint on the local level that simply doesn’t exist on the national scene.

Neighbors posted their preferences alongside one another without apparent rancor, sometimes even with a sense of humor despite the weariness one feels at the end of a hard fought and traumatic political campaign. Outside Madison, Wisconsin, on a street lined with an impressive number of local and national political signs, one homeowner in the middle of the block summed up the campaign in a handwritten sign that said, “Vote for Jack Daniels! No negative ads! Over 100 years of making people happy! I’m Jack Daniels and I approve this message!” It felt good to know that people hadn’t completely lost their capacity for humor and self parody.

Then on a strip of Interstate 80 somewhere between Lincoln and Omaha, with the radio spitting out reports of the alarming freefall of the Dow, there appeared another positive sign of the times in the form of a billboard with the simple, three word statement in huge letters, “Invest in yourself.” I brushed it off as just another marketing slogan for one investment firm or another, but then in smaller type at the bottom of the sign, I noticed the advertiser responsible for the message: the University of Nebraska.

The simple wisdom of the message caught me by surprise; in times of economic distress, education is truly the only equity guaranteed to increase over the long haul—and no one can take it from you.

This fall semester UNM-Taos saw a major upswing in enrollment in part, perhaps, because the self reliant citizens of northern New Mexico know that workforce development, basic academic skills, and certificates and degrees across the academic broadband are absolutely essential to a satisfying and productive life. The high school student taking dual credit courses, the young adult planning for his or her future and the senior citizen channeling the wisdom of a lifetime all know that this is a good time to make a strong commitment to education.

Like the sign says: invest in yourself. Find out what your community college can do for you.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The UNM-Taos Report

In the last UNM-Taos Report I talked about the enthusiasm expressed for the enrollment numbers that were rolling in, and how important it is for our college to keep those numbers up. Last fall they dropped slightly and our funding took a drop also, so there was some concern and a lot of commitment to ensuring that we were on the right side of the equation this time around.

At the end of the article I said, “Final numbers for regular enrollment and dual credit will not be in until after September 15, the census date used as the official count for the semester. We will see then how well everyone’s predictions have held up.” Well, the numbers are in, and here’s the score:

We knocked it out of the park.

According to Anne Landgraf, Information Resource Manager, on September 15 we had 1,416 registered students, compared to last fall’s figure of 1,194. That’s an increase of 222 students in a single year, and a comfortable 91 more than the next highest figure if 1,325 recorded in 2006. More students are taking more classes, as well. Last fall we recorded 8,281 credit hours. This year the figure was 10,194; an increase of 1,913 credit hours.

Executive Director Dr. Kate O’Neill felels that this is exactly where we want to be. “Too much growth too fast could hurt us,” she said. “But, clearly, these numbers are telling us we are meeting the needs of the community.”

Another positive sign: dual credit enrollment was way up this semester. The popular program where area high school students take classes for both high school and college credit was up to almost 400 students.

That’s the current status of the community’s use of their college. Now, a quick look at what Bob Arellano, head of the Literacy and Cultural Studies Academy, calls, “bringing the college to the community.”

Saturday, September 27 marks the beginning of the first annual Fall Harvest Festival of Education and the Arts at UNM-Taos (see our ad in this week’s edition of Tempo Magazine). In cooperation with student government, it’s a week of events at the Klauer campus south of town and at locations all around the community that is designed to give back a small portion of the enthusiasm and support this community has shown us in the past five years.

It will include two evening events—the Saturday, September 27 opening night gala reception and art opening, “Ten Years of Printmaking at UNM-Taos,” and a full blown open house extravaganza Thursday, October 2nd with walkthroughs of major new buildings, a bonfire, music, a poetry circle and even a star gazing telescope event. Indoors at 7 p.m. we will show the beautifully crafted and inspiring hour long film, “Team Everest: A Himalayan Journey” hosted by Gary Guller; Everest summiteer, internationally known speaker, champion of the rights of persons with disabilities and our own local Taoseno.

Sunday September 28th our library on Civic Plaza Drive opens its doors to library and CASA tutoring events. Monday, September 29th at 7 p.m. author and UNM-Taos instructor Sean Murphy will host a reading at Cafe Tazza entitled, “John Nichols, Sean Murphy and Friends” at Caffe Tazza, 122 Kit Carson Rd.

This is just a small sample of what’s in store. Study the full list of events, and try to attend as many as you can with the entire family. They’re all free, and it is essential that every citizen gets to know their community college, and takes part in its growth and improvement. Take special note of the tours of our newest additions: the Career Tech and Early Childhood Development Center buildings. They are going to have a major positive impact on how people perceive higher education in northern New Mexico in the years to come.

A smaller, yet no less important innovation to take note of will be a free coloring book for children created by longtime local resident and artist Amy Cordova and produced by Student Success Director Amy Chavez-Aguilar. Cordova’s beautifully simple and gently evocative drawings of scenes around the UNM-Taos campus will give children a first glimpse of life at their own community college. Be sure to take some home for the kids.

Carolyn Thompson, UNM President Schmidly’s Consultant for Planning, met with around seventeen UNM-Taos faculty and administrators September 12 for a two hour session on strategic planning. The results should be quite interesting to the Taos community, because although the purpose of the work session was not to implement strategy, some of the outcomes were quite revealing as to the current in-house thinking about the future of our uniquely Taos-style community college. Here are a few highlights:

In response to the question, “Where is UNM-Taos in the best position to grow,” participants gave the highest marks to sustainability, in terms of green building and facility operations such as the highly anticipated solar array, along with water research, science and cultural issues. Next came transportation, particularly in the much needed ability to efficiently transport students to and from the Klauer campus. Other responses included student support, engagement and advising; vocational programs; state-of-the-art language/learning labs; and the Library and Learning Resource Center.

On the topic of how UNM-Taos can best differentiate, or leverage its uniqueness, respondents again put green building and sustainable energy first, followed by faculty excellence, health sciences, arts programs and regional culture, diversity and history.

UNM-Taos strengths ranged from the powerful commitment and caring manner of faculty, staff and our executive director to manageable class size, overall affordability, cultural diversity, our student base and extraordinary community support.

There will be a performance/fundraising event for the new Creativity and Consciousness Program at UNM-Taos, featuring internationally acclaimed pianist and current Wurlitzer Foundation Fellow Azima Melita Kolin, performing with Taos’s own Mirabai Starr and Nancy Laupheimer for an evening of classical music and readings from the Sufi poet Rumi on Thursday, September 25. “Lovers of Rumi” will begin at the Angladas Building at 8 pm.

In the article on our new Student Success Associate from Taos Pueblo Mildred Young, who is currently working with advisors Damon Montclare and Mario Suazo, I said that she was working on her Bachelor of University Studies. In fact, the seemingly inexhaustible Ms Young has already completed that degree.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fall Harvest Festival of Education and The Arts


Please join us for a week of FREE events celebrating another successful year at UNM-Taos, YOURcommunity college. It’s our way of saying thanks to a great community for outstanding support. Events will take place at our Klauer campus south of town at 1157 State Rd. 570 and at various locations throughout the community. Please call 737-6204 for more information.

SATURDAY September 27

Gala Opening Night Reception

The student art show, “Impressions/Ten Years of Print Making at UNM-Taos” opens 3:30 p.m. in the Art Building on Klauer campus with a welcome from Gary Cook, Art Director. Fresh from a summer run at Carlsbad Museum and Art Center, the show is a remarkable testament to the tradition of creativity and skill achieved by 40 UNM-Taos art students over the years.

A Reception from 5:30-7 p.m. will feature entertainment, refreshments, and Academy Fair.

SUNDAY September 28

Library, Literacy and CASA Tutoring Day

UNM-Taos Library open house, behind the Administration building at 115 Civic Plaza Drive. Noon to 5 p.m. Book sale and giveaway, genealogy corner with Nita Murphy, GO Bond information booth, and official welcoming of Ana Pacheco, new UNM-Taos assistant librarian. Refreshments will be provided.

CASA Tutoring Expo, outdoors in front of the UNM-Taos Library.

9:30-10:00 Journal Writing

10:00-10:30 Conquering the Fear of Public Speaking

10:30-11:00 Writing Tips: How to Organize Your Ideas

The UNM-Taos Literacy Center, 1021 Salazar Rd. in the TCEDC building Noon to 3 p.m. Cookies, lemonade and a video about the Literacy Center will be offered along with career assessments for those who stop by. Brochures and pamphlets available with information about the literacy program.

MONDAY September 29

Career Tech / Area High Schools Day

Open house/tour of new building at Klauer Campus. Be among the first to tour our brand new Career Tech Building. Activities include Career Clusters, Pathways to Professions, an Academy Fair, Dual Credit Booth, all in the new building. Get to know your new campus, 11:30 to 5:30 p.m. For group tours please call 737-6204.

TUESDAY September 30

Campus closed in honor of Cultural Awareness Day


Kid’s Campus Day

Open House/tour of our new Early Childhood Development Center at Klauer campus. Bring the children and explore the new Kid’s Campus. Take part in activities including face painting, hats, animal magnets, balloons, door prizes, masks, free coloring books by Amy Cordova, and more. 11:30-5:30 p.m. For group tours please call 758-2046 or 741-1494.

Peoples Bank Art Show, Well known local artist and UNM-Taos adjunct faculty Ginger Mongiello presents a stunning display of 30 pieces in this one woman show. Regular business hours, Peoples Bank, 1356 Paseo del Pueblo Sur.

THURSDAY October 2

Natural Resources Day: Klauer Power! Watch Us Grow!

Bonfire and star watch, open house for entire campus including entertainment and refreshments indoors and out, hosted by Student Senate. Afternoon and evening events begin at 5:30 p.m. when the entire Klauer Campus will be open to the public with an Academy Fair and a veritable feast of activities, from a Poet’s Circle and open mic around the fire at 5:30 including poets from Taos High and UNM-Taos to the inspired 60 minute video, Team Everest—A Himalayan Journey hosted by Everest summiteer and internationally known speaker Gary Guller at 7 p.m. Don’t miss this evening of fun—it’syour community college on display!

FRIDAY October 3

Digital and Performing Arts

Ernest J. Gaines: Louisiana Stories, a documentary of vivid memories and ancestral stories of the old south. Caffe Tazza coffee shop, 3 p.m., 122 Kit Carson Rd.

Reception for new nursing program, Everything You Wanted to Know About Nursing at UNM-Taos, 4:30-6 p.m., Caffee Tazza coffee shop, 122 Kit Carson Rd.

Free Film at KTAO: Showing of Leonardo di Caprio’s important documentary film The 11thHour, 7 p.m. at the KTAO Solar Center, Old Blinking Light intersection north of town. The 90 minute environmental film will be followed by an open forum, discussion and question-and-answer session on sustainable practices and renewable energy.

SATURDAY October 4

Fall Harvest Finale

Lobo Homecoming Football Game, Shadows Lounge, Plaza de Colores, Camino de la Pueblo Sur. Please join us for football fun and festivities LOBO style while we cheer our main campus cohorts on to gridiron victory. Game begins at 7:30.

Taos Solar Buildings Tour and Educational Forum Hosted by Taos Chapter NM Solar. The all day tour and educational forum will include the new classroom building at the Klauer campus. For more information call the New Mexico Solar Energy Association, (575) 758-5338.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

UNM Taos student arrived in Xi’An, China as exchange student to Northwest University.

UNM Taos student Samuel H. B. Favero and Alice Ko arrived in Xi’An, China today with their little baby girl Kalila. Sam and Alice will be in Xi’An for the full 2008-2009 semester. Sam will be attending Chinese language classes, Chinese folk art and multicultural courses in preparation for a degree in International Studies. Alice already has a degree in architecture and will most likely pursue more studies in Asian art and culture during her stay in China.

Our Canadian exchange student, Nicholas Marks, also begun his fall semester here in Taos today. Nicholas is an art major from Bishop University. He will be taking art classes at UNM Taos this school year.

UNM Taos Chinese Culture Club would like to invite students and community to join us in converting our membership to an “International Society” to expand our multicultural studies and exchange ideas to be of more service to our students. Contact International Programs Coordinator:

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sewer Line Breaks Ground

May 21 was a big day for UNM-Taos. It was the hottest day of the year so far with a nasty gusting wind that brought dirt with it from every direction at once. If you were anywhere near a construction site yellow sand and grit got into your clothes, into your hair, into your eyes and your mouth if you happened break a smile. But the couple of dozen people standing in the middle of the dirt road in front of the treatment plant west of town were all grinning like they had just won the lottery. And in a way, they had. They had gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking of the sewer line project that would guarantee the expansion of the UNM-Taos Klauer campus for years to come.

You could say they were “flushed with success”.

Sarah Backus, director of the El Valle de los Ranchos Water and Sanitation District, who had negotiated the agreement between UNM-Taos and El Valle, felt that it wasn’t just the check for nearly $1,500,000.00 that the U.S. Department of Agriculture was bringing to the festivities later that afternoon that made people smile. The real success story according to her was about the singular collaboration among individuals and institutions that made the whole project possible.

“It really feels like we are doing something good for the community, for the students of UNM and basically for everyone. We worked well together, with very little tension, and a whole lot of good will; I think when everybody has good intentions things work out well.”

Cindy Schaedig, project manager from the Office of Capital Projects at UNM Albuquerque, elaborated. “We appreciate the cooperation from El Valle, the town, the county and the support from our legislators that will get the sewer out to Klauer because it gets the college out of the business of being a public utility. With the new buildings coming in the septic system is maxed out, so we had to either put in a treatment plant of our own or work out an arrangement with El Valle and the town, and we are so grateful that they were willing to join forces. The support that the local communities have shown for their community college has just been amazing.”

Dr. Kate O’Neill, Executive Director of UNM-Taos, made special mention of the legislative efforts of Senator Carlos Cisneros and Representative Bobby Gonzales. “With their help, along with collaboration of the USDA, UNM, the town of Taos and the county of Taos we had support from every level: federal, state and local. I can’t thank them enough.”

Representative Gonzales said, “When we went for branch campus status some years back we probably had 80% of the legislature against us. Now UNM-Taos is the golden apple of our community. There is no limit to what the future holds for us.”

Senator Cisneros agreed, stating that, “It is a proud day when we can celebrate cooperation for the greater good. This improved infrastructure will make Taos an educational destination as well as provide the opportunity of higher education to all our citizens. I commend El Valle and UNM-Taos for the wonderful work that they are doing.”

Ryan Gleason, New Mexico director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, while acknowledging that he always gets an enthusiastic reception when he visits small communities mainly because people know he is coming with a big check, also maintained that there was something special about this project. “These projects always take a lot of cooperation, and when you get multiple governmental agencies involved, it just adds to the headaches. The smoothness of this particular project is a testament to the commitment of the community to make this happen.”

In an aside that brought laughter to the crowd, he said, “I’d also like to recognize Dr. O’Neill’s leadership in this. You should know that she has chased me over the better part of the state trying to make this happen. She deserves more credit than you guys realize in keeping my attention focused.”

The project is expected to be completed in time for the new buildings on campus to be open by mid August, and during construction there may be delays along Los Cordovas Rd. south of the treatment plant. Alternative routes might be advisable.


Registration for summer classes is in full swing, and you can go online at to register, come to the administration building at 115 Civic Plaza Drive, or phone 737-6200 for information. Summer schedules are available throughout the community.

Richard Niemeyer, head of the Academy of Sciences and Environmental Studies, recommended several new courses: The Plants of Northern New Mexico and Wildlands Ecology, both taught by Sylvia Rains Dennis, coordinator of cultural and ecological sustainability, and Forest Ecology, taught by well known Taoseno and PhD in Forestry Larry Vincent. All three courses delve into the philosophy and application of sustainability, and rely on hands-on field trips into the real-world ecosystems that are being studied.

Published author and veteran instructor Shawn Murphy recommended English 432, Living Contemporary Authors. It is a two week intensive with 20 hours devoted to reading and discussing works of contemporary authors, followed by 20 hours of workshops devoted to presentations and conversations with those same authors.

“It’s a very innovative class,” Murphy maintained. “It is interesting for students of every skill level to meet authors and realize that they’re just human beings. It makes students think that maybe they, too could do this work. Authors aren’t just people in the distant past who wrote something and then died, after all.”

Another innovative offering is the Gear UP! summer session from June 9-13, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day. It is open to 30 Taos Middle School students, who can sign up by contacting middle school counselor Theresa Sanchez. Each day a different academy will present to the group—giving them a feel for branch campus academics and a taste of college life. This is one more effort to make higher education more of a normal part of everyone’s academic career.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Kids in The Crossfire

At least one school board member seems to be having a hard time getting a passing grade on the topic of the value and purpose of the dual credit program currently up for renewal by the board. As a result, in a recent meeting the school board felt obliged to put off authorizing the longstanding program, which allows students to receive both college and high school credit for specific courses.

A crash course on the subject seemed to be in order, so I first checked to see if, as implied, the dual credit program was just some plan hatched by UNM-Taos to bump their numbers. It took less than a minute to determine that it was not, because there it was, just below the Great Seal of the State of New Mexico on a document entitled Statewide Dual Credit Master Agreement:

“SB 943 (Laws 2007, Chapter 227) creates a dual credit program in state statute….Affected parties must refer to 6.30.7 NMAC or 5.55.4 NMAC for rules regarding dual credit implementation.”

In other words, the program is authorized by state law. Surely, board members are already aware of this; the statement leads off the very document they are being asked to ratify.

Next, I decided to contact the real experts with hands-on knowledge of the effectiveness of the program—those students and their parents who have actually participated in dual credit. This is what just a few of them had to say:

Jeremy Cordova, 2007 Taos High School graduate currently enrolled at CNM Albuquerque in culinary arts: “I took dual credit classes and it really helped me get it together. Attacking this program is just hurting the students. If a student wants it and it helps them out and it’s free, why not? This program is for everybody, not just one special group.”

Lauren Romero, 2007 Taos High graduate currently enrolled at Menlo College, Menlo Park, California: “I took dual courses my junior and senior years in psychology, chemistry, history and English and I was basically able to skip a whole year of college. I started out as a freshman and ended up a second semester sophomore by the end of the year. The dual credit program must have saved us $20,000.00. That’s a really big deal. My sister is a sophomore and wants to do culinary arts, and she will probably take dual credit culinary arts classes. If you are planning on going to college or even thinking about taking a year off, dual credit is a good opportunity because it will help you in the long run.”

Erlinda Gonzales , UNM-Taos employee, former Taos Town Council member and mother of a student who has one of the highest accumulations of dual credit in the history of the program: “We enrolled Francine in her first dual credit course when she was sixteen, with Dr. Kate O’Neill in psychology. She liked it and continued to sign up for dual credit, mostly in science and math. By the time she finished she had 36 hours which she took to UNM main campus. She graduated last May with a double major in political science and math. Now she is getting ready to go to law school, and she still comes back to thank her instructors. Parental involvement is the key to everything, so I encourage parents to make sure their kids know about this program. Sure, there may be classes that are not transferable—my daughter took Mariachi, for instance, and she may not have been able to use that—but students know this because the classes that transfer are marked, and advisors make them aware of it as well. Dual enrollment around the state is something every college is looking at and trying to promote. It is nationwide, not just here in Taos.”

Michelle Gallegos , Taos High graduate, UNM-Taos Work Study and student: “The twelve hours of dual credit I got gave me a big push. If you’re not planning to go to college, it can give you that incentive. It’s a start. And financially, because it doesn’t cost anything, it’s a wonderful program that they offer here. I can say that my parents are very happy. I think it is a good opportunity for everyone. All it can do is benefit you.”

Doug Swinehart , parent: “I have had four kids who have attended Taos High, but my daughter Hailey is the best example of the value of concurrent classes. She graduated with full honors from NMSU this spring, the only female with a degree in mechanical engineering, and to my knowledge all of her dual credits transferred. Now she has accepted a position with Lockheed Martin where she is a mechanical engineer in the planning department at the NASA space center in Houston working on the new space shuttle project. I talked to her last Thursday and she was upset at what she saw as the faulty logic behind the dual credit issue, because in her case it allowed her to graduate a year earlier. That is a great economic advantage, but you also have to ask yourself, how much is a year in a person’s life worth? It would be one giant step backward to deprive our children of the program. And I must say, if there is one person who has dedicated their life’ s work to the betterment of education in northern New Mexico, that person is Jim Gilroy.

Michele Glenn, BA, MA, CTEFL, PhD candidate, 2002-2005 ESL instructor at UNM-Taos and UNM-Taos student in eight science and math classes. She phoned in from Baltimore, Maryland: “Any suggestion that courses offered at UNM-Taos are substandard or somehow not up to par really annoys me, because in my experience their academic standards and instructors are exceptional. Every course I took at UNM-Taos to prepare myself for a degree and career in public health was excellent, and credits for these classes were accepted by the graduate programs at both Johns Hopkins University and George Washington University. Anyone raising doubt as to the caliber of UNM-Taos instructors should take a class such as trigonometry, taught by Frutoso Lopez, as I did, and see how he does. As to the dual credit program, it is welcomed throughout America. Our kids are in the crossfire, and it would be tragic to deprive them of this opportunity.”

An Education Stays With You Forever

At UNM-Taos success is not just calculated in dollars, square footage, credit hours, enrollment numbers, telecom capability or bandwidth. It is measured by what our students take away with them from the UNM-Taos experience. Here is what a few of our most recent graduates had to say:


I’m from New York and Connecticut. My little boy and I have been in Taos for only three years. When my mother became ill with diabetes I developed an interest in the medical field; not just the nursing itself, but the commitment it takes to do that kind of work. The responsibility you have for people’s health care. It’s not an easy path to take. You have to be committed to succeeding and reaching your goals. Each step you take is hard, but that just makes you more determined to succeed. I started at TVI in Albuquerque and then transferred to UNM-Taos, and I found that the great thing about Taos is the atmosphere of learning—learning from each other. It has been worth every single day of the commitment.


I have a daughter who is 22 years old who graduated in 2003, and she is my inspiration. I said to myself, if she can graduate, why can’t I do the same? I found out that UNM-Taos has a program for immigrants through the Literacy Center, so I got started and I graduated in record time! I am telling you that everyone can do it—one day at a time, one exam at a time. I volunteer at the Literacy Center now. If you need to get your GED in Spanish, ask for me.


I am a native of Taos—born here, graduated from Taos High in ’91. I started at Luna Community College, but I was discouraged. Then I came to UNM-Taos, and my grades started to improve. I love kids—I just like to see them learn, and after I get my bachelor’s in education I hope to work in the public schools so I can give back. We’re living in hard times. There are a lot of people in the world struggling now, barely making ends meet. Without education you’re just another number. Ask yourself, what are your strengths? What would you like to do? Start taking the basics, and take them seriously. And try never to give up on your dreams.


When I started at UNM-Taos I was seeking a human services degree. But one of my teachers, Bonnie Lee Black, saw something in my writing, something I didn’t realize that I had, so she submitted some stuff and it got published. I started writing more and more. I have met a lot of teachers who have given me resources, and my communications and journalism skills have helped me through the internet, through radio, through the local public access station and through advertising. I work with Tom Myers at Taos Local Television and he is very helpful. Now I am able to speak at workshops, and I can videotape events. I have met a holistic healer and a local shaman. We’ve done shows about chefs, artists, architects and politicians. And you know, when you have a camera in your hands, they give you a front row seat! What advice would I give to others? That’s what I do every day—I’m a work study in the enrollment office. I see a lot of new students coming in who are not real sure of themselves. I say, when opportunity knocks, get up off the couch and answer the door!


I’m from Urbana Champagne, Illinois. I started college at Columbia, and now I’m completing my degree at UNM-Taos after 12 years in the workforce because I wanted to finally finish up my bachelor’s degree. To keep my focus on that goal, I had to make sacrifices. How did this commitment change my life? It changed it in that there is no life any more! No, seriously, it’s hard, but I have had the opportunity to get to know the professors, ask questions and interact with other students in a small classroom environment. The diversity within the diversity, I call it. I’ll meet people from a similar background but who have all had different experiences within that background, which, I think, gives me a much richer understanding. The diversity of age, experience and culture has been just a wonderful opportunity for me. That, along with the outstanding faculty, have helped me to make education a priority in my life.


In 1992 when I graduated from Taos High I wanted to get as far away as possible, so I went to New Mexico State. It didn’t work out. I moved back to Taos and after I had my kids I decided it was time to get started on something. In 2004 I got my associate’s in criminal justice, and now the BUS. It has been nice to do it all in Taos where my family is and not have to move away. It was a challenge, but that’s the way it is. Oh, it feels great to graduate. I’m relieved. I’m exhausted. I have a desire to learn and experience more, but you also have to be an example to the kids. I wanted them to see that a person can get an education no matter how old you are or when you do it. There are studies that show that kids whose parents have degrees are more likely to finish school themselves and be more productive. I don’t want to be working doing something I don’t like for the rest of my life, and I don’t want that for my kids, either. College life may not be for you. It wasn’t for me in the beginning. But you need to give it a chance.


“I’m a Taos High graduate, class of 1990. After high school I stayed at home for five years raising my young son, and in a way it’s because of him that I’m where I am today. I waited till he was in school before attending a post-secondary institution in order to get an education so I could support the two of us. I believe that everyone should at least look at the possibility of a college education. From my experience I know that that’s one thing that no one on this earth can take away from me—what’s in my mind and what I’ve accomplished here.

“An education stays with you forever.”