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NMSU President Couture plans to build strong connection with Alamogordo campus

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. - New Mexico State University President Barbara Couture pledged during a trip here April 14 to build a strong relationship between all the NMSU community colleges and the Las Cruces campus to reinforce the value of youth seeking out higher education.

New Mexico State University President Barbara Couture visits with the community during a meet-and-greet at First National Bank in Alamogordo April 14. Couture was in Alamogordo to visit with faculty, staff and students at NMSU-A and to lay out her goals for the coming months as president. (NMSU photo by Audry Olmsted)

"I'm going to do a better job of working with the Alamogordo campus and with our community college campuses to ensure that any student who wants to complete a four-year degree at New Mexico State University and understands what the requirements of that program are, that we do everything we can to get them through that program," she said during the visit to Alamogordo.

Couture's trip was part of the "Campus Conversations" project. She talked with faculty, staff and students at NMSU-A and met with the community to become more familiar with what the Alamogordo campus has to offer and to discuss her immediate goals since taking the helm in January. She is inviting the public to share their thoughts via a Web site at http://www.nmsu.edu/president/community-conversations.html.

The president met with Cooperative Extension Service agents from the Lincoln and Otero county offices to learn about the different programs and services offered, from nutrition education and family living programs to best gardening practices and 4-H opportunities.

Couture commended the work the Extension agents were doing for their respective communities, especially their interactions with youth. She said it is very important for New Mexico that more youth consider college, whether NMSU or another university that meets their individual needs.

"One of the best ways we can encourage that interest is to have programs that start young, where children have an understanding right from the very get-go that their future is not only to go to school, but to continue to go to school so that they do get that college education, which is the ultimate life skill-building experience for them," she said.

State legislators hold NMSU in very high regard, Couture said, and she is dedicated to making sure the university continues to be world-class in research, teaching and Extension work.

As part of her plan to combine the strengths between all the NMSU campuses, Couture said she regularly meets with each community college president to talk about what is happening at each site and that each college president now reports directly to her.

She told faculty, staff and students that she wanted to have a greater emphasis put on coordinating NMSU's distance education efforts so that students can be given the best learning opportunities. She also said it was extremely important for her to visit each campus in order to see how the colleges and Extension offices work with their communities.

In addressing questions from those in attendance at "Campus Conversations," Couture said that though there is a 4-5 percent decrease in the state budget for the Las Cruces campus, the Alamogordo campus, as well as the other community colleges, received funding for reaching enrollment growth of at least 3 percent during a specified period of time.

"We are very happy to see that growth at the Alamogordo campus," she said.

During a meet-and-greet at First National Bank, Alamogordo Mayor Ron Griggs and Chamber of Commerce Director Mike Espiritu told Couture how important NMSU-A is to the community and how the two complement each other.

Couture said she was proud to be in Alamogordo and is committed to working with Cheri Jimeno, NMSU-A president, to ensure that students understand the educational opportunities available to them and help them complete a four-year degree.

Jimeno said a close working relationship between the community colleges and the Las Cruces campus helps students throughout the state make their education a seamless transition from kindergarten through college. She added that students can easily start their higher education at a community college and then complete their upper-division coursework in Las Cruces.

"NMSU-A and the community of Alamogordo were delighted to have President Couture visit our campus and the community," Jimeno said. "For the first time, Dr. Couture had the opportunity to meet many of the faculty and staff that make the campus a wonderful place of higher education. The visit also provided her a chance to meet many members of the community and witness first-hand the strong support the community gives to NMSU-A."

Couture visited the Grants campus April 8. She'll visit NMSU Carlsbad April 28.