Gamble claims solution to 135-mile rule problem

By Tony Parra

Eastern New Mexico University President Steven Gamble said there is a solution for a problem with the 135-mile rule which will help ENMU’s enrollment totals and to better benefit from the program.
Gamble disclosed the information at the Board of Regents’ meeting on Wednesday afternoon in the Sandia room in the Campus Union Building.
The 135-mile rule allows for Texas high school students who live within 135 miles of a New Mexico university to pay in-state tuition. A set amount of money is set aside for New Mexico State University, Western New Mexico University and ENMU to use to make up the tuition difference. Gamble said he felt a disporportionate amount of the money from the program was going to NMSU.
“We believe we have come up with a compromise,” Gamble said. “We will come out well. New Mexico State University is willing to give up slots to be distributed. We can grow from 200 to 260 full-time students from Texas. It will take number a number of years. It will take care of our immediate needs.”
Gamble said NMSU compromised by giving ENMU and WNMU 75 tuition slots for students who use the program and agreed to divide the money more fairly between the three universities.
“We capped out the amount of students who can use the program,” Gamble said. “We divided out the 75 positions lost from NMSU and we (ENMU) got 60 of them and Western New Mexico University got 15 positions.”
Gamble said the intent is to cap the number of Texan students to 1,175 students who use the program across all three universities.
Gamble said enrollment numbers for the fall semester are looking good. He said official enrollment numbers will come out next week.
“I’m anticipating over 3,900 students, tentatively,” Gamble said. “We’re optimistic it will be the second highest number since the 80s.”
Gamble said there were 3,905 students in the 1992 fall semester and 3,973 students in the 1993 fall semester. He said it appears as if the 2004 fall semester enrollment numbers will be somewhere in between the 1992 and 1993 numbers. According to Gamble, ENMU had enrollment numbers of approximately 4,300 students in the 1970s.
Regent Alva Carter expressed concerns over the math and reading scores for the Portales schools. He said ENMU could help in the development of Portales schools students to provide qualified and better educated students.
“We encourage businesses to come to Portales,” Carter said. “When they see that (math and reading scores), it’s not encouraging. If we can’t (promote) an education base, businesses aren’t going to want to come here. All of the parents want their kids to be in good schools. I wonder if there is a way we (ENMU) can work with our public schools.”
Scott Smart advised the board of regents that according to budget reports the athletic revenue was not able to break even with athletic costs. Smart said $130,000 had to be transferred from the auxiliary budget to offset the cost.

In other business at the meeting:
• Ground on the new communications building has been broken and work has begun on the footings. Block for the interior and exterior walls is in the process of being laid and the university expects the project to be complete by August of next year.
• Director of Computer and Information Services Bob Hilgenfeld submitted a funding request for fiscal year 2006. The university is seeking funding for the last phase of a two-year project that will cost about $1.25 million, which the university hopes would come from the GO bond that is up for election in November.
The goal is to replace aging fiber optic and copper network with a single mode fiber network capable of simultaneous transmission of voice, video and data at a higher bandwidth.