NMSU branding

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center

Ramah Navajo School Board and NMSU join efforts to enhance student success

Since its inception in 1970, the Ramah Navajo School Board Inc. has participated in an "unending quest to provide educational opportunities to all its community members."

ording to school board officials, the quest is steady and moving forward.

In an effort to bring more educational opportunities to the students of Pine Hill, the Ramah Navajo School Board (RNSB) and New Mexico State University will sign a memorandum of understanding at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11, at NMSU's Cooperative Extension Office, 9301 Indian School Road, Conference Room 115, in Albuquerque.

The signing will formalize the relationship between the institutions. Through this partnership, RNSB and New Mexico State will initiate steps to bring in additional scholarships in the future.

"This partnership means that there will be another student who can achieve his or her dream of attaining educational benefits that would not have been possible previously," said Jamie Henio, president of the RNSB board of trustees. "This event demonstrates a true partnership between a major university and the New Mexico Native American communities. We hope all universities and colleges will follow this precedent in an effort to continue meeting the education needs of Native American communities."

The collaboration between the institutions also will address retention and recruitment issues and help ensure the academic success of Native American students.

Because of its location in southern New Mexico, the university is isolated from most of the Indian reservations and pueblos in New Mexico, said Don Pepion, director of the American Indian Program at NMSU.

"The university wants to increase the American Indian enrollment from 3 percent to 10 percent of the total student population," Pepion said. "The increase in enrollment would parallel the percent population of American Indians in the state of New Mexico."

This is the sixth tribe or pueblo to sign an MOU with New Mexico State.

New Mexico State and the tribes and pueblos have several goals, including providing an annual tuition waiver for each tribe/pueblo; developing a data system identifying why American Indian retention and graduation rates are so low; and increasing the number of American Indian professional staff and faculty.

"The partnerships with the American Indian tribes and pueblos are important since their people were agriculturalists long before the United States government created land grant institutions," Pepion said. "NMSU desires to respect and recognize the sovereignty of these first nations and maintain a dignified and rightful relationship of collaboration."