PNT Staff Report
Eastern New Mexico University at Portales has been awarded almost $960,000 in federal grant money to make technological upgrades to its computer, telecommunications and multi-media classrooms.
The $957,967 grant derives from an earmark secured by Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M. a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, during the FY2008 appropriations process, according to a press release from Domenici’s office.
According to ENMU President Steven Gamble, ENMU will use $694,942 to upgrade its telecommunications system, $248,850 for computer technology upgrades, and $14,175 to convert a classroom into a “multi-media smart classroom.”
“These funds will work to allow Eastern to access the equipment it needs to keep pace with technological advances,” Domenici said. “ENMU is a key institution in eastern New Mexico and many residents in the region rely on it for the education and training they need to compete in today’s economy. My work on this funding request was propelled with this understanding.”
Gamble said the university can begin accessing the funds with the new budget cycle which begins today. He expects replacement of the personal computers by the fall semester with the other technology likely added later in the year. ENMU has three years to use the grant money.
“The University is grateful to the federal government and expecially Sen. Domenici for securing these funds,” Gamble said.
Domenici initially secured the ENMU funding through the DoED’s “Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education” as part of the FY2008 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (Labor-HHS) Appropriations Bill. It eventually became law as part of an omnibus appropriations bill last December.
Gamble said the university will receive 240 new computers and 140 monitors to replace aging equipment in computer labs and at staff and faculty desks. He said ENMU tries to get five years of use out of its computers by rotating older models to faculty and staff use.
The money will also replace outdated file servers, and provide computer equipment for a “Smart Classroom,” the seventh one on campus, which allows students Internet and WebCT access, he said.
Telecommunications equipment includes a new Multi-point Control Unit which allows video broadcasts to be sent to multiple remote sites for ENMU’s distance learning programs.
“Distance education is so much a part of our present and will be a big part of our future,” Gamble said.
Gamble noted a continued growth in the program which he expects to continue with higher gasoline prices.
ENMU received the grant as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) with a high population of first-generation college attendees.