When considering the value of education for our children, families, community members, we must consider both the dollar amount as well as the programs and services offered. As a “value,” NNMC has raised tuition from $41 per credit hour just three years ago to $169 per credit hour when factoring in additional fees assessed. In addition, NNMC's President and Executive Team recommended a raise in tuition for 2014-2015, which the community and students strongly organized against (as seen in extensive media coverage).[ii] Further, the vast majority of NNMC students are Associate’s Degree seeking students and NNMC has the highest tuition for Associate Degrees in Northern New Mexico. Indeed, Santa Fe Community College's (SFCC) out-of-state tuition is less than NNMC's tuition for in-state students. SFCC students pay $98 a credit hour while NNMC students pay approximately $169 per credit hour (based on $2,030 per semester with 12 credit hours, seen on the announcement[iii]).
“Best value in New Mexico?”
New Mexico Highlands University has fifty-seven undergraduate majors and twenty-four graduate programs in the Schools of Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, and Social Work.[iv]
Eastern New Mexico University offers sixty total Associate’s, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, (twenty-two of those are graduate degrees) in the College of Business, the College of Education and Technology, the College of Fine Arts and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.[v] ENMU also has two additional branch campuses.
Western New Mexico University offers forty-six Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees in the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business, the College of Education, and the College of Health and Human Services, and eight Master’s degrees.[vi]
New Mexico State University has the Colleges of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, Arts & Sciences, Business, Education, Engineering, Health & Social Services, and the Honors College with over 100 majors. Its Graduate School awards forty-six Master’s degrees.[vii] NMSU also has four branch campuses.
The University of New Mexico, the state’s flagship university, has more than 200 undergraduate degree programs in the University College, School of Public Administration, College of Fine Arts College of Arts & Sciences, Anderson School of Management, College of Education, School of Engineering, School of Law, School of Architecture and Planning, University Libraries and Learning Sciences, School of Medicine, College of Nursing, and the College of Pharmacy. The University of New Mexico, with five branch campuses throughout the state, offers over 100 graduate and professional degrees.
By comparison, Northern New Mexico College does not offer even the most basic and critical programs to serve our community; such as, majors in Ethnic Studies, Chicana/o Studies, Communications and Journalism, Creative Writing, Criminal Justice, History, Physics, Political Science, Public Health, Social Work, Spanish (Spanish classes are not taught past the 200-level), Women Studies, and so many more that are simply a given at every other New Mexico institution of higher learning. NNMC has no Bachelor’s degrees in Music, Art, or Film, though the first Bachelor's program in the Fine Arts Department (Jazz Studies) was recently accredited. In the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Language & Letters Department, there is a single Bachelor’s degree offered—the Bachelor of Integrated Studies. Northern offers three Bachelor of Science degrees in Biology, Environmental Science, and General Math. Our College of Business is unaccredited[viii], our College of Education is unaccredited[ix], our Department of Engineering is unaccredited,[x] and our College of Nursing does not have national accreditation.[xi] Further, this year our Career Tech programs were cut, as was Radiography. Northern is also not accredited to grant graduate degrees or graduate certificates of any kind.[xii]
With the limited resources provided to NNMC instructors and professors, critical thinking skills are still central to education. The claim by the NNMC Administration that Northern is “the best value in New Mexico” might be more precisely stated, “NNMC: We do less with more.” The Administration of President Nancy “Rusty” Barceló has insisted on becoming a 4-Year Comprehensive Institution, yet when compared to other 4-year institutions in New Mexico, NNMC simply does not provide equal education or services. Thus, for good reason, in 2013, NNMC had the lowest headcount of any of these 4-year institutions and enrollment continues to drop.[xiii] In addition, compared to 2-year community colleges such as Central New Mexico Community College and Santa Fe Community College, NNMC has fewer course offerings and less diverse course offerings at a higher price.
Shame on Northern for insulting the intelligence of our community and our students by raising tuition, reducing instruction, faculty and services and then calling this a “value.” In the Española Valley, over 20% of our residents live below the poverty line.[xiv] The extraction of tax dollars, tuition and fees from our community—while cutting programs, instruction, faculty, and student services—does not equal a value in any sense of the word.
With leadership that appreciated, respected, was responsible to, indeed, valued students over slick marketing, we might see developments and growth in degree programs and increases in enrollment. Instead, under this Administration, we have seen the converse. We hope one day to have an Administration and Board of Regents that believes our community deserves educational opportunities equal to other communities in New Mexico, rather than an Administration and Board of Regents that trades in false advertising and in shrinking our access to higher education.
[i] See full announcement at: http://nnmc.edu/news/northern-best-value-new-mexico
[ii] See media coverage of tuition hikes at: http://nnmcstudygroup.weebly.com/news.html
[iii] “Currently, full-time resident students pay $2,030 per semester in tuition and general fees,” http://nnmc.edu/news/northern-best-value-new-mexico
[iv] See degree and course offerings at: https://www.nmhu.edu/academics/index.aspx
[v] See degree and course offerings at: http://www.enmu.edu/degrees.shtml
[vi] See degree and course offerings at: http://wnmu.edu/degrees/
[vii]See degree and course offerings at: http://www.nmsu.edu/
[viii] See: http://business.nnmc.edu/page/business-administration
[ix] See: http://education.nnmc.edu/page/college-education
[x] See; http://engr.nnmc.edu/department-engineering
[xi] See statement on accreditation at: http://health.nnmc.edu/adn-home
[xii] See New Mexico Higher Education Department’s “Post-Secondary Report:” http://www.hed.state.nm.us/uploads/files/Data%20Research/Graduation%20Rates%20and%20Degree%20Production/NM%20Postsecondary%20AY%2011%20-%2012%20Degree%20Production%20by%20STEMH.pdf as well as NNMC’s program offerings: http://site.nnmc.edu/colleges-and-departments
[xiii] See New Mexico Higher Education Department’s “enrollment data for 2013: http://www.hed.state.nm.us/uploads/files/Data%20Research/Enrollment/Fall%20Enrollment%202013%20updated.pdf
[xiv] See comprehensive population data at: http://www.city-data.com/county/Rio_Arriba_County-NM.html