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College of Extended Learning summit in October to foster military-friendly university

After a successful mini-forum at Fort Bliss, the College of Extended Learning at New Mexico State University (NMSU) has coordinated an innovative summit to address the needs of the military community and determine how best to enhance their educational experience.



New Mexico State University professors of Computer Science Enrico Pontelli and Son Cao Tran (seated) explain their researching techniques to students. They recently received a $340,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study artificial intelligence specifically related to research on the planning and development of intelligent software agents.)

The first Military, Veterans and Families Education Summit with the theme of "Transformation: Forming Tomorrow's Leaders Today, Anywhere, Anytime," is Oct. 22 at NMSU.

"There is a sense of excitement and synergy at New Mexico State University as it prepares to meet the post-secondary educational needs of our expanding military communities," said Fred J. Rodríguez, who is coordinating the event through the College of Extended Learning. "As a new member of the Servicemembers Opportunity College (SOC) and a Letter of Instruction (LOI) school, NMSU joins GoArmyEd to ensure its place as a military-friendly university."

The intent of the summit is to bring together state and legislative leaders with academic and military leaders to address and resolve educational challenges impacting military personnel and their families across the state.

Carmen Gonzales, dean of the College of Extended Learning and vice president for student success, called the summit a chance to introduce the military community to NMSU's programs and distant education opportunities.

"We have quite a few programs that we think would be attractive to the military community, "she said.

Not only does the college want to show what they have to offer, but officials also want to be able to get an idea on what kinds of opportunities the students want to get out of participating in extended learning, such as with GoArmyEd, a program that offers soldiers tuition assistance and online course enrollments.

Rodríguez said the goal is not to create extra advantages to the military community, but to create a fair playing field and give students in the military the confidence to obtain a degree.

"We want educated men and women for the future," he said.

The ultimate goal is to get the two communities - the college and the military - together.

The summit, he said, is for anyone who has a big heart and believes in extending education to everyone.

Leadership with the regional military institutions have been invited to speak at the summit, along with Maj. Gen. Kenny C. Montoya, adjutant general for the State of New Mexico. NMSU President Waded Cruzado will also speak at the event.

Rodríguez said the garrison commanders at White Sands Missile Range and Fort Bliss, Col. Gary D. Gaebel and Edward Manning, respectively, will also speak, as well as a representative from the American Council of Education.

The College of Extended Learning held a mini-forum late in July at Fort Bliss to gauge what kind of reception it would receive.

Rodríguez called the forum, attended by more than 60 people, a "tremendous success."

"The forum was an exciting and extremely enjoyable event," he said.

The participants listened to Command Sgt. Maj. Steve Rodgers discuss the essentials to good leadership and also had roundtable discussions. The different university colleges also showcased their degree maps offered through GoArmyEd. Aggie athletic activities were also highlighted.

The forum served its purpose and led the way for the College of Extended Learning to implement the bigger event in October.

The summit is sponsored and coordinated by CES. It is also sponsored by the Office of Distance Education and the State of New Mexico Department of Veterans Services.

Though participants are not required to register for the summit, Rodríguez asks that people call him if they are planning to attend, so he will have an idea of how many people to prepare for.

The summit will take place at NMSU's Corbett Center. Registration starts at 8 a.m. and the session begins at 9 a.m. For questions or to sign up for the educational summit, call Rodríguez at (575) 646-6216.