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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU Regents approve budget, select NMDA secretary/director

At a regular meeting Friday, May 6, the New Mexico State University Board of Regents approved the operating budget for fiscal year 2011-2012.

The approved budget for all campuses is about $715 million, with a current funds budget of $616 million and plant funds of $99 million.

"We appreciate the hard work of the administration to get to the best budget possible for the university," said Regents Chair Laura Conniff.

The Regents also selected Jeff Witte to serve as the next NMDA secretary/director. The director of the NMDA serves as the secretary of agriculture on the Governor's Cabinet, but the position is filled by the NMSU Board of Regents and reports to the board and the university president.

"We are proud to select Jeff as the next director/secretary of the NMDA and look forward to his leadership," Conniff said.

Witte is director of the Office of Agricultural Biosecurity and co-director of the Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center at NMSU. He has served previously as NMDA's assistant director/deputy secretary, and was director of governmental affairs and field services for the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau. Witte also has served as a research specialist for the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at NMSU. He has a master's in agricultural economics from NMSU.

"I look forward to leading a great department and working with Gov. Martinez, who is a strong supporter of agriculture in the state, and the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences," Witte said. "I can assure you that I am going to work day and night to live up to the opportunity you have given me today."

The Regents recognized outgoing Associated Students of NMSU President Travis Dulany and outgoing Faculty Senate Chair Mark Andersen.

The Regents also presented the Above & Beyond Award to Linda Perez, building manager, safety officer and laboratory supervisor, for the NMSU biology department.

The Above & Beyond Award recognizes full-time employees who go the extra distance in service to any and all aspects of the NMSU system. Individuals are recognized for performance that goes "above and beyond" their regular responsibilities and for demonstrating a positive attitude that inspires others.

Perez was honored for voluntarily responding around the clock during extreme February weather that required the Las Cruces campus to close for three days. Foster Hall has about 15 ultra-cold freezers that must be kept at ?80°C at all times. They store important and irreplaceable samples for the biology faculty. Perez was especially vigilant of these freezers, and came by the building every day to check. She did the same for all the animal care facilities, since many of the incubators and aquaria hold expensive and hard to maintain animals used in biological research.

In other business, the Regents approved the university's capital outlay requests for 2012-2013 and adopted updates to the university's Master Plan. There also were informational reports on promoting the value of NMSU and the Afghanistan Water, Agriculture, and Technology Transfer Program.