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New Mexico State University

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Nov. 7 bond vote crucial for NMSU system

On Nov. 7, New Mexicans will be given the opportunity to make a positive difference for the state's universities and colleges.


eral Obligation Bond for Education, also known as Bond B and placed on the ballot by the New Mexico Legislature, would allocate nearly $118 million for capital improvements to New Mexico higher education institutions and constitutional special schools.

The New Mexico State University system's portion of that is $22.9 million.

"This money is needed for essential renovation, repairs and expansion on all our campuses," said Ben Woods, senior vice president for planning, physical resources and university relations. "Some of our buildings are 50 years old and must be updated in order to best serve the students."

The greater portion of the funding, $11 million, would go to renovation and expansion of Gardiner Hall, home to the Physics Department. Built in 1957, the hall was named after George Gardiner, a physics professor and founder of the Physical Science Laboratory. It is showing its age and that's not acceptable for today's researchers, said Waded Cruzado-Salas, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Scientific and technological advances in today's world demand state-of-the-art equipment for university researchers to remain competitive, said Robert Czerniak, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and director of the Arts and Sciences Research Center. Such advances demand up-to-date resources to prepare students adequately for the world of research, he said.

Alumni coming back for a visit at Homecoming often are heard to remark with a bit of chagrin that the labs and classrooms at Gardiner haven't changed a bit, said Cruzado-Salas. The need to find a better home for the Astronomy and Geology departments also is creating the push to expand and renovate Gardiner Hall. Right now these classes are scattered across campus. They, too, require labs that are state-of-the-art to remain competitive among research universities and to recruit, teach and graduate science students.

The expansion and remodeling at Gardiner will result in a science quadrangle at NMSU - a physical presence that would encourage the already growing cross-collaboration among researchers. It would also make it easier for students to take all the classes they need in pursuit of their science careers without having to criss-cross the campus in a kind of maze.

Other important projects at NMSU would benefit from passage of Bond B.

Dean Jeffrey Brandon of the College of Health and Social Services said his college is seeking $2 million to help expand its building to include a Southwest Institute for Health Disparities Research. It would focus research on the major health issues in the Southwest, including diabetes, substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, the increasing risk of HIV/AIDS, breast and cervical cancer, water and air quality, delayed prenatal care, immunizations, and unwanted teen pregnancies.

Passage of the bond also would provide $3 million for the proposed Native American Cultural Center, meaning it could become a reality on campus sooner. The idea for such a center grew out of tribal requests in 2002 to provide more space and services for Native American students. When Michael Martin became president in July 2004, he made the center a top priority.

"Our decision to build this center reflects our firm commitment to serve Native American students and to celebrate the Native American cultures of New Mexico," Martin said. "As a land grant institution, we want to reach out to all citizens and make them a part of the NMSU community. The center will enhance our ability to do that."

In fact the entire NMSU system will benefit from passage of the bond. Included in the bond proposal is funding for:

?NMSU Dona Ana Community College: $3.5 million for the East Mesa Center.
?NMSU Alamogordo: $1.5 million for an addition to Reidlinger science and math building.
?NMSU Carlsbad: $1.5 million for infrastructure renovation and deferred maintenance.
?NMSU Grants: $400,000 to plan and design a community library center.

Further benefits would come to NMSU from the passage of Bond C, also on the Nov. 7 ballot, said Elizabeth Titus, dean of the NMSU Library. Bond C proposes more than $9 million for libraries across the state. Academic, public and public school libraries would share in the funds if the measure passes, she said. Over $700,000 in one-time funds would permit NMSU libraries to strengthen the academic collections that support student scholarly and research needs.

"This is funding that is critical to simply maintain our current level of service to students. We serve the entire state of New Mexico as one of the two largest research libraries in New Mexico," Titus said.

General Obligation Bond Facts

Important dates:
Last day to register: Oct. 7 by mail; Oct. 10 walk-in
Absentee voting begins: Oct. 10
Early voting begins: Oct. 21
Election Day: Nov. 7
How much will it cost?
The general obligation bond is funded by property taxes collected by the state of New Mexico. The cost is about 32 cents per $1,000 of the taxable value of property?down from 34 cents during the 2002 bond cycle. For example, the taxable value of a home appraised at $100,000 by the county assessor is $33,333. The owner of that property would pay an average of $10.17 per year for this bond issue.

Mary A. Benanti
Sept. 21, 2006