Albuquerque Center setting sights on future

February 24, 2010 by Jane Moorman @NMSU the online newsletter for NMSU staff and faculty.

When you have a diverse group of departments housed at a satellite location such as NMSU’s Albuquerque Center, it is good to take time to say, “What is our mission and vision, and how are we going to accomplish it?”

The Albuquerque Center is building its mission and vision statements, and strategic plan, to bring quality programs to students in the Albuquerque Metroplex and Northern New Mexico areas, through either on-site programs or innovative online technology.

NMSU Albuquerque Center Operations Director Veronica Chavez-Neuman, right, and Gayla Bacon, student counselor, joined the Albuquerque staff in January.

NMSU Albuquerque Center Operations Director Veronica Chavez-Neuman, right, and Gayla Bacon, student counselor, joined the Albuquerque staff in January.

Housed at the new office and classroom facility at 4501 Indian School Road are various representatives of NMSU’s main campus, including the College of Extended Learning, student services, several College of Health and Social Services schools and departments including social work and public health, and criminal justice from the College of Arts and Sciences.

“We have 125 on-site students in the master of social work and master of criminal justice programs, and an additional 130 online distance education students who see our site as their contact point to the university,” said Veronica Chavez-Neuman, recently appointed operations director. “We want the Albuquerque Center to be a location where innovative technology is used to reach non-traditional students.”

Stakeholders in the center’s future gathered on Feb. 5 to begin the process of developing the center’s mission and vision statements. Participants ranged from student recruitment personnel and faculty either working from the center or teaching at the center, to NMSU main campus personnel such as Stephen Arnold, interim assistant dean of academics, Shelly Bucher, interim department head in the School of Social Work, and James Maupin, criminal justice department head.

“With our new, larger space and full-time operations director, Albuquerque Center represents an area of great potential for NMSU,” said Carmen Gonzales, vice president of student success and dean of the College of Extended Learning. “We have the facilities and personnel to develop new programs and to reach new audiences.”

Future planning sessions will focus on developing goals and outcomes in a strategic plan.

This strategic planning coincides with the arrival of Chavez-Neuman from the New Mexico Higher Education Department (HED) to the newly established director of operations position. She has extensive experience in higher education through her work at the New Mexico HED, Luna Community College and Santa Fe Community College. Her experience covers student services, technology infrastructure support and policy and staff development.

“I see my role here as more than a director. Part of this position is to get the word out that NMSU is extending its excellent programs into central and northern New Mexico,” Chavez-Neuman said. “Growing up in Albuquerque, I always thought NMSU was so far away and it was never accessible to those of us in this part of the state. This is no longer true with the online courses and the graduate programs offered here at the center.”

Since the Albuquerque Center is under the umbrella of the Division of Student Success, Gonzales also wants to provide services at the center to help students. In January access to student counseling services was expanded to the center with the hiring of Gayla Bacon, a licensed professional counselor.

Bacon will provide face-to-face counseling to on-site and online students in Albuquerque and surrounding areas, as well as ensure that appropriate accommodations are made for students, faculty and staff with disabilities. Prior to coming to NMSU, Bacon was director of admissions at the Life Healing Center in Santa Fe.

The need for a counselor at the center became apparent after students began requesting counseling services that could not necessarily be facilitated over the phone or by e-mail. Having a counselor available for face-to-face sessions is important, because while phone sessions can be a viable alternative, they lack the non-verbal communications from client and counselor, which is an important part of the process according to Karen Schaefer, director of NMSU’s counseling services.

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