Frequently asked questions
What would happen to the current students studying there under NMSU-C?
The conversion date would necessarily have to be at the end of summer school or the end of a semester. Those students previously under NMSU-C before the conversion would simply be transferred seamlessly to the new college and their Associate Degree would be conferred from Southeast New Mexico College. The present branch college is accredited independently from the main campus and that accreditation would be transferred to the new college via a change of ownership process. Articulation agreements are in place for in-state as well as many out-of-state universities and those agreements would be transferred to the new college. The new college would work with any student matriculating to any university to assure their credits are accepted as we do now.
What will happen to those currently enrolled in degree programs such as education?
If they have completed their Associate’s degree and they are now working on their Bachelor Degree, that would continue as it is now through the main campus. The new college intends to cooperate fully with NMSU as well as other universities in providing on campus and virtual learning however possible to facilitate the educational process for local students seeking further education. In addition, the new college intends to have agreements with other universities in the state to provide for other degrees, which would enable students to achieve those degrees while living and working at home. Independence means we can have more, more flexibility and more opportunities for our citizens.
Are there any negative aspects or problems that may come up, and if so what are they?
The biggest negative aspect is that this is a lengthy process that has to follow a more or less sequential order. 1. We must receive approval from the Higher Education Dept. to go forward, That process is in motion. 2. We must have a bill passed in the legislature and signed by the governor to enable the conversion. Rep. Brown has a bill drafted and will introduce it in this legislative session. 3. We must go through the process with NMSU of transferring property titles, grants, money, etc. that belongs to the branch and will convert by statute to the new college. 4. Upon the legislation becoming law we will then have to have a special election to elect a Board of Trustees. That Board would then appoint a President for the College and the rest of the college organization would stay the same. 5. After the legislation passes, we will need to embark on accreditation changes for the new college due to change of ownership for the college itself and for the nursing program. These should be somewhat rudimentary based on the fact that nothing really changes in the mission, organization and operations other than being independent. Upon the clarity of an appropriate conversion date, that date would be chosen and agreed upon.
Are these problems able to be resolved in any way?
We wouldn't really call these problems, as much as calling them a process that we must work through systematically. We are convinced the effort is worth it in order to become more responsive to our students, community and businesses. We believe the new college will be much more responsive to CMS student needs in the Early College High School program as well as making the outcome of the Academies a reality. Education is the great equalizer that unleashes the opportunity for every individual to be successful in whatever endeavor they choose.
What is the plan to meet the needs of the community, Eddy County, and Southeast NM?
As well as a very active college outreach effort to determine student and business educational needs and tout the campus offerings, a large advisory board to the president will be created to bring needed programs to the college. A collective effort by faculty, staff, and the community will help determine the needs of community, county, and Southeast NM. There are many avenues for determining those needs and making sure the campus serves those needs through additional programming. Because of the new capabilities, the community seems more engaged and supportive of the direction of independence.
New Name/colors/mascot – Will we have a say in this?
A college name was required for the introduction of a state bill. A poll of faculty and staff, as well as of task force committee members, selected Southeast New Mexico College as the preferred campus name. Colors and mascot will be determined at a future date, and full community involvement will be encouraged.
Will the NMSU contributions to retirement be given to employees when we go independent?
NM Educational Retirement Board governs retirements for all public post secondary institutions of Higher Education as a single retirement program. All employees of public Colleges and Universities in NM and the NM Public Education Department representing the K-12 institutions and NM Special Schools are included in the plan. Employees may seamlessly move from one educational institution to another and their retirement follows them. Employees moving from the branch college to the independent college will not affect any person’s retirement. The NMSU obligations simply transfer to the independent college.
What happens to those who are not vested (employed with NMSU more than 5 years), will they receive their NMSU contribution as well?
Nothing would change in the vesting process. The vesting period and vesting years earned would continue seamlessly with the transfer to the Independent College without interruption.
Will our accrued annual leave and sick leave be rolled over, or will we have to start all over again?
Our expectation is that the annual leave and sick leave will roll over and be honored as part of the transfer process.
Do we all keep our jobs?
NMSU Carlsbad is a lean campus with employees performing multiple tasks and duties.
We have a commitment from NMSU that all jobs will remain intact during this conversion process. There is no anticipation of any job losses, and, infact, the campus must hire several more employees since some of the main campus jobs will now be done locally.
Will Service time and sick leave remain the same?
The current P&T structure and process will roll over to the new college and continue, including time of service and leave..
Can we pay people more?
The issue of more compensation may not be determined at this point until the College becomes independent. We could say that there are reasons to ask for more compensation and salary adjustment in order to be competitive with staff and faculty hiring. The present branch has developed steps and increments in the payroll schedule that clearly must be reviewed by the new college when in operation. However, it should be noted that NM Legislators and the Governor have influence on compensation through the college funding formula.
Will those represented by a union (the non-exempt staff who are hourly employees) continue to be in a union?
The union representation is expected to continue but labor law most likely requires a renegotiation for a union contract that will be negotiated by the union and the new College Board of Trustees since it is a new entity.
What happens if we get a 60-day layoff notice during the transition to independence?
NMSU has guaranteed us there will be no lay-offs or dismissals during this period of transition. The Branch College does not cease operation because of transition to independence. The campus will continue operation until the transition formally occurs..
Will employees have options for continuing their education?
Employee education at our campus will continue to be a benefit for employees.Those benefits have been requested of other universities and they have been approached to provide those benefits. Benefits outside the new independent College will ultimately be based on what benefits other universities are willing to provide our employees.
Are we ever going to get cars, raises, and/or dorms? A childcare center?
A dorm seems to be one of the major priorities of the Community Group. All other topics are of high value and will certainly be of concern to a local board of trustees to address.
How will articulation work?
Articulation to other colleges is not new to our campus. Aside from NMSU students routinely articulate toTexas Tech, Colorado State, University Global through the effort of the Grant Services and Academic Affairs office. The College will now have more latitude to pursue articulation to any institution of a student’s choice. For articulation to a university in New Mexico a huge effort is in place to have a common course numbering system as well as a common curriculum to simplify the transfer process and make transfer automatic. The branch has many such articulation agreements in place with many universities, and since this is a transfer in name only for the most part, the roll over of present agreements should not be difficult to continue.
Will reclassifications be done to match experience and education to current positions?
Again, reclassifications will probably follow the present protocols, but again, if they are inequitable, we would assume the board would be sensitive to the issue and restructure it.
How will the governance structures be formed? Will NMSUC employees have a vote in who is selected?
The establishment of a local Board of Trustees is by an election by the registered voters comprising the Carlsbad School District. The Board will be composed of 5 members, one from each of the five Carlsbad school districts. The terms for board members will be for six years other than the first term which is required to be staggered. The winning candidates from each district will draw to determine who serves 2 years, who serves 4 years and who serves 6 years. After the first election all terms will be for 6 years. The Legislature creates Southeast New Mexico College, and a subsequent election creates the Board of Trustees to govern the new independent college. The school district is chosen because it is the district from which the mill levy for the college is derived. The Board would then choose a President and the present organizational chart would remain the same under the president. A future goal of the Board would be to form an advisory community council to the president to bring recommendations from the various businesses and aspects of the community for courses that the college should offer.
We believe it is also important to have advisory members to the Board representing North Eddy County as well South Eddy County.
How will the governing board be arranged?
The governance structure will be similar to what is in place now. The difference is that the President will be reporting to a local Board of Trustees and the present structure of three vice-presidents will report to the president.
How much of the $32-36 million surplus is earmarked for special projects?
-Can we use that surplus as we wish, or is it specific to certain expenditures?
-Can some of it be allocated for compensation?
The reserve amount mentioned is held in trust by NMSU main campus for the benefit of Carlsbad’s campus.. The transfer of tangible assets and financial assets will occur by statute when the new college initiates operation. The mandated transfer of property language is expected to be included in the Legislative bill creating our independent college, however this transfer is already included in law. .
When will we know for sure about ownership of the real and personal property?
All the property on campus including buildings, equipment vehicles and other assets were paid for by the campus and the community. The campus has no bond indebtedness. The land where the present campus resides was donated to the NMSU Board of Regents for the purpose of providing a location for the local branch tof NMSU. Law provides that upon converting a branch college to an independent college all assets held by the parent institution of the branch get transferred to the new independent college..
Can we retain ownership of student and faculty records, and intellectual property (such as our online courses)?
The College expects to migrate all students and faculty records from files of NMSU into a similar system. Research into IP and its use at the new campus will continue as existing rights as well as faculty retaining intellectual property rights
What impact will the change have on grant funding, including technology purchased through grants?
Grant Services at the new college are expected to have more control in the management of grants and their expenditures within the goals of each grant. Decision-making and implementation is expected to be faster and more smooth. Acquisition of technology from grants by the campus will remain the property of the campus and transfer to the new college..
Will we have programs offered again such as EMT/Paramedic, Plumbing, HVAC, ICT, etc that we cannot currently offer due to lack of faculty, or refusal of faculty to teach? Will faculty earnings be raised to recruit faculty to our campus to teach these programs?
We believe it is the college’s responsibility to meet the varied educational needs of the community and region. Our vision is that the college meet all the training, certificate programs, social activities and educational needs where there is a demand. We believe if there is a demand, the college should respond and find the instructors to teach the courses, activities and training.
Will the conversion to an Independent Community College cause an increased burden on the state budget?
No, there will be no changes. Distributions from the state through a formula are the same for a branch college and an independent community college.
Will there be an increased burden on the local taxpayers to support the independent community college?
No, there will be no change in the support for the independent college from the branch college, it remains the same.
Why is there so much money held in reserve by NMSU in Las Cruces?
Year after year the branch has underspent its budget and this has resulted in the accumulation of some $34 million in reserves.
How much interest has the reserve money we have at NMSU generated year by year, and where is it reported annually?
We don’t know how much interest we have earned year after year on our funds on deposit at NMSU. There is no accounting for accrued interest on the reserves that has been reported, and we are concerned about their accounting practices.
Why haven’t positions been filled by offering more competitive salaries when we appear to have adequate funding to do so?
Carlsbad has a higher cost of living than Las Cruces, but the main campus controls the salaries, and we have not been able to offer competitive salaries. As an independent we will be able to respond to salary supply and demand to attract instructors.
How will the budget for the new college be developed and constructed?
The budget will be developed through a process similar to the one being used now. However, there will be the latitude to make budgetary adjustments by the management to achieve the broadened goals of the college in response to the community it serves.
Does a budget analysis over the next five years demonstrate a healthy financial status?
Highly conservative financial pro-formas over the next five years indicate the college to be very liquid and responsive to the area without dipping into reserves.
What major capital projects are anticipated over the next five years?
There appears to be a demand for on campus student dormitories, and housing for instructors that could be considered for capital spending.. Depending on what new courses are offered there are potential need for additional equipment.
NURSING SCHOOL QUESTIONS
Would our nursing program have to shut down if we went independent?
No! The nursing program is an invaluable part of Carlsbad’s college. The nursing college would eventually have to complete a new accreditation process, in addition to the independent college’s accreditation. This ongoing process would be scheduled in a way to avoid any interruption of the education process. Campus staff have already started developing a plan for this contingency.
What advantages would independence have for our nursing program?
The nursing program at NMSU-C currently has a staff of 5 when it should have a staff of 9. As an independent college, we would be able to offer competitive salaries to attract additional qualified staff. Salary levels would also be determined locally, and the focus would be on improving the system in Carlsbad. Recruitment efforts would also be local.
Would this interfere with transferring to NMSU for a bachelor’s in nursing?
No, NMSU’s acceptance criteria for its BSN program would not be modified, and students here could apply to other BSN programs as well.
Won’t this hurt the tuition exemption for those pursuing advanced degrees?
NMSU-C employees and their families have been able to pursue advanced degrees through NMSU. We recognize this significant concern. Our hope is to establish a cooperative agreement with NMSU. Another partial solution is to develop a local foundation to offer current educators a similar program.
We have a great nursing program! Why would you want a change?
We absolutely agree that we have an outstanding nursing program. Nothing would change with the nursing program and a resulting Associate Degree with full RN status after passing the boards. The current nursing staff at NMSU-C does a wonderful job, but the program deserves additional staff. Independence would improve on what makes the current nursing program great.
What about students who are one year into the two-year program?
Because the program is divided into two-year cohorts, one cohort of students would begin the program as NMSU-C students but finish with an associate’s degree from the new college. We do not anticipate this would cause any difficulty in terms of graduates finding employment or pursuing additional degrees. All nursing students will graduate from an accredited college.
Would tuition go up?
There would be no reason for a tuition increase. Carlsbad’s college has a very sound fiscal reserve. Independence would mean that these reserves could be invested in Carlsbad.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
As an Independent College, we would be able to appoint a president of the college.
The removal of the Branch Campus President who was the connection to the city
and the direct contact with the chancellor was replaced by an individual stationed
in Las Cruces. This is a major concern because it further distances the main
campus from the local campus and city.
We would be able to dictate how we manage the bookstore locally.
The main campus changed the acquisition of books by students which has left
students without books for much of the semester.
We would be able to distribute online courses to students that were taking courses through our branch who have now been forced to enroll on the main campus.
This action moves enrollment to the main campus from the local campus which
reduces the number of local students and affects the state formula negatively for
funding the branch. Additionally, students must pay main campus tuition rates
rather than the local rates that are significantly less.
We would be able to develop our own budget without the main campus dictating it.
Even though the local campus is budgeted and funded separately as well as
supported entirely by our own money in the way of mill levy, state funding, tuition,
grants, etc. NMSU is becoming more aggressive with spending cuts at the main
campus that are also mandated locally without regard to the local impacts.
We would be able to implement additional in courses, training and associate degree programs at our college without delay.
Presently, all new academic courses must be approved by the main campus, and
the delay we presently endure by the main campus would be eliminated.
Independence would mean we would have the ability to respond to the
community needs quickly without delay. In addition we would gain the flexibility
to work with other universities to broaden the portfolio of offerings to our
We would be able to apply for our own capital requests for the bi-annual bond issue, for our own capital outlay funds.
Today, we are subservient to the main campus and their needs. We get the
crumbs left if all the funds are not taken. Being independent would allow us to
apply for capital and compete with all the other institutions for the money.
Being independent with our own college run by a local board would create stability.
Frequent leadership changes at NMSU on average every 3 years means new
policies, new attitudes and promises that were made to us locally are forgotten.
We believe we would save approximately $400,000 annually from the fee paid to NMSU.
A budget study indicates we can hire the additional staff we need, purchase the
systems we need and save approximately $400,000 annually from the fee we
pay at the main campus.
There is significant concern over resources and processes being moved away from the local campus more and more frequently.
Loss of operational and educational control reflects a denigration of our campus
offerings and a loss of responsiveness to the local community. After all, branch
campuses and independent community colleges were formed to offer students
the ability to achieve an education less expensively at home and to also be
responsive to the training needs of business to help recruit and maintain them.