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NMSU vice president appointed to APLU leadership committee

New Mexico State University's vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management has been appointed to a leadership position with the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, a non-profit organization with members across the country dedicated to advancing learning.

Studio shot of Montoya
Bernadette Montoya, vice president for student affairs at NMSU, has been elected to serve on the executive committee for the Council on Student Affairs with APLU. (NMSU photo by Harrison Brooks)

Bernadette Montoya will serve for two years on the Executive Committee for the Council on Student Affairs.

"I am honored to have this opportunity to work with colleagues at other land-grant universities," said Montoya. "This is a wonderful chance to work with others in my field in a very influential organization."

The CSA deals with many issues that are critical to student success in college, such as admissions, student financial aid, health and wellness, and graduation rates. The council sponsors conference presentations and informal forums to discuss issues that affect students' overall experience at college issues. The parent organization, APLU, has participants from all 50 states.

From the two meetings she has already attended, Montoya said she has learned about practices at other universities that might benefit NMSU students.

One topic currently on the minds of APLU members is the U.S. Congressional debate over reducing the amount of Pell Grants. This federal program helps students from low-income families attend college. Because the APLU represents universities across the nation, they developed a formal position to proposed changes to the Pell program. Montoya contributed to this effort, advocating for students who rely on Pell funding to attend school.

Areas of concern to student affairs professionals change with changing conditions both locally and nationally.

"Because of the challenging economy, students are less likely to have health insurance; other students have serious financial issues, and these things affect their ability to succeed in the classroom," said Montoya. "We have seen an increase in our student veteran population following the passage of the recent GI Bill, and the economic downturn has motivated others to return to update their job skills.

"Students deal with real issues, and the council addresses how we help them deal with those issues so they can be academically successful," Montoya said.

As a member of the Executive Committee, Montoya will play an active role in determining issues addressed in CSA efforts. She is also looking forward to sharing the experiences of colleagues who face the same issues in their work.

"We have a really wonderful time together," Montoya said. "I have made good professional connections through APLU."

Montoya became NMSU's vice president for student affairs and enrollment management in June 2011. The function of the student affairs arm of NMSU is to help students negotiate college admissions and financial aid before they arrive at NMSU, help support their success while they attend school, and serve their post-graduate life with services such as career resources. Montoya holds a doctorate in education from the University of New Mexico and has also worked at NMSU-Grants and Doņa Ana Community College.

Montoya is not the only NMSU administrator on APLU. Wendy K. Wilkins, executive vice president and provost, serves on the executive committee of the Council on Academic Affairs and will be the program chair for the annual summer meeting in 2012. NMSU President Barbara Couture chaired the Executive Committee for the Council on Academic Affairs for APLU from 2008-2009.