By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer
As the new school year begins, Eastern New Mexico University President Steven Gamble expects enough of an increase in credit hours taken to earn more money from the state.
Freshmen and transfer applications and the number of returning students look strong, he said.
“I will be surprised if our increase in enrollment and semester credit hours isn’t substantial,” Gamble said.
The fall semester starts Aug. 19. Although he wouldn’t speculate on exact numbers, Gamble said ENMU leaders expect at least a 4-percent increase in both areas.
The amount of money the state allots for universities is based on the total number of credit hours all students take.
Semester credit hours must grow at least 3 percent in fall, spring and summer semesters to get more money.
Gamble said ENMU had good summer semester credit hours, and a 4-percent increase in the fall should secure the additional state money. The spring semester typically mirrors the fall’s numbers, he said.
Gamble attributed the increases to the school’s reputation, the economy and strong recruiting.
“I think people think good things about the institution when they hear ENMU,” he said.
Gamble also said enrollment in higher education rises when the economy is down. People want to polish their skills and don’t have jobs, but can get financial aid for school, he continued.
As another change, the university is starting the year with two new leaders — the dean of fine arts and the athletic director.
Jeff Geiser started as director of athletics in June. Joseph Kline just recently took the position of dean of fine arts.
“I couldn’t possibly be more excited to start working at Eastern,” said Kline, who hadn’t arrived in Portales.
The first thing he needs to do is enmesh himself in the College of Fine Arts and get to know people, especially department chairs because student success depends so much on them, he said.
In his position Kline also hopes to find new ways to collaboration across different disciplines of fine art to move art forward. And he wants to include the community in college activities by offering top-quality performances.
Since he started, Geiser has hired a softball coach and an athletic promotions staff member.
As the school year approaches, he has been doing paperwork and working on a strategic plan. Geiser also streamlined the Corporate Partners Campaign and started a Bench Club membership drive.
Also, two weeks ago, the university broke ground on a new 6,000-square-foot weight room just north of Greyhound Arena. Geiser said the administration already had the money for it when he arrived, and it would be one of the best facilities in the Lone Star Conference.
“The experience so far has been very positive, largely due to the people,” he said.