ENMU enrollment holds mix of good, bad news

By Tony Parra

Eastern New Mexico University president Steven Gamble went into more detail over enrollment numbers for the regents during the Board of Regents’ meeting on Friday morning and gave the regents a mix of good and bad news.
First, Gamble spoke about the good news. The good news is that the fall enrollment numbers have been in a steady increase since 1997. The fall enrollment at ENMU of 3,959, is the largest enrollment in the last 10 years since 1993 when there was an enrollment of 3,973 students.
The biggest increases were in freshman — from 814 in fall of 2003 to 874 in the fall of 2004, a 7.37 percent increase —and in graduate students — from 552 to 597, an 8.15 percent increase. Gamble said the education and liberal arts departments are experiencing the biggest growth.
Gamble said another important number is the increase of student credit hours from 43,398 in the fall of 2003 to 45,454 in the fall of 2004. According to Gamble, this is the number which the state department officials look at for funding purposes.
Gamble also reported good news in the number of Hispanics enrolled at ENMU. There were 997 Hispanic students enrolled in the 2003 fall semester and the number jumped to 1,061 students in the 2004 fall semester.
“This is the first time we’ve gone over 1,000,” Gamble said. “It’s something we’re extremely proud of.”
However, Gamble said the number of Hispanic women has decreased.
“To my amazement, there are 30 fewer Hispanic females,” Gamble said. “We don’t know why. We’d like to think it’s an anomaly.”
He said the graduation rate has increased from 31.2 percent to 32.1 percent, but would like to see the number at 40 percent. However, the freshman retention rate has decreased from 60 to 59 percent, despite the fact that ACT scores are slightly up from 19.1 to 19.3.
“It doesn’t make sense with our ACT scores and the better quality of students that we have,” Blaine Hess, regent, said.
Gamble did finish by saying it was hard to draw a conclusion after only one year.
In other business at Friday’s meeting:
• General Obligation Bond issue B was on the agenda. ENMU officials want support for the bond to support educational needs in New Mexico. Roosevelt County voters will have a chance to vote either for or against the issue on Nov. 2.
If the voters pass the bond, there will be a 10 percent increase in the estimated property values for property owners in Roosevelt County. The additional property tax would be approximately $1 per year for 10 years for each $10,000 for which a house is valued (i.e., a property owner who has a house with an asset value of $100,000 would pay an additional $10 per year in property tax).
“We need a good turnout in favor of it,” Gamble said. “Our representatives in Ruidoso and Roswell are working hard on the issue. We’re fighting a good fight. If they’re doing the same in Albuquerque, I feel optimistic about it.”
The bond issue would provide $96 million for higher education institutes in New Mexico. The ENMU campus in Portales would receive $7 million for a new science building, $766,000 for KENW-TV digital conversion, $500,000 for infrastructure improvements and $462,000 for information technology upgrades.