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Center for the Arts request leads NMSU's legislative priority list

When the New Mexico Legislature convenes Jan. 15, New Mexico State University will seek assistance for projects like the Center for the Arts, an increase in compensation for faculty and staff of 5 percent, and a variety of academic programs ranging from the implementation of an aerospace degree program in the College of Engineering to the establishment of the Science Education Enhancement and K-12 Teacher Outreach Program in the College of Arts and Sciences.


Phase I of the Center for the Arts, a $37.5 million request, would be a collaborative arts complex located next to the Music Building. The total cost of the complex is expected to be $80 million, which would be constructed in three phases. Phase I would include the most-needed performance and exhibition spaces with their appropriate support facilities. The initial phase would include a large performance hall to seat between 900 and 1,200 people; a drama/screening/dance theater to seat between 300 and 500 people; a studio or "black box" theater; and gallery space.

The arts at NMSU now are scattered across 13 buildings, and an arts complex would provide much-needed building updates and increased space for the programs.

An increase of $1 million in base funding will be sought for the Cooperative Extension Service and Agricultural Experiment Station, programs that have not had an increase in many years. A funding request for the Tribal Extension Initiative, which would establish eight regional Tribal Extension centers, is set at $500,000.

A request for $450,000 would enable the university to complete the aerospace program, a critical need in this time of growth in the aerospace industry in New Mexico.

The Science Education Enhancement and K-12 Teacher Outreach Program request, at $300,000, would provide a state match for the $1.5 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which is designed to improve undergraduate science education in New Mexico.

A request of $450,000 would enable development of a STEM Success Center. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) initiatives across New Mexico are designed to strengthen STEM subject teachers; increase the number of underrepresented students succeeding in STEM coursework and choosing STEM majors at the university level; and coordinate efforts with other agencies in assessment and evaluation of STEM programs. The Success Center would enable statewide coordination of STEM programs as well as research and development activities to assist programs in improving student learning and academic success in science and mathematics.

Among numerous community college capital project requests, NMSU will seek $8 million for the rapidly growing Dona Ana Community College East Mesa Center's Phase VI, primarily for classroom and lab spaces.

A request of approximately $15 million is being sought for the I-25 interchange project, which would allow greater access to the expanding Arrowhead Research Park.

The Legislature will have a 30-day session in 2008, which will conclude on Feb. 14.