NMSU Carlsbad to become Southeast New Mexico College July 1


Darren Phillips

A student reads a book outside on the steps of the NMSU Carlsbad branch. (Image Courtesy of NMSU News Center.)

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill allowing the New Mexico State University-Carlsbad branch to become an independent community college on April 7.

House Bill 212 is named “Remake NMSU Carlsbad as Community College” and was passed by the House on March 3 in a vote of 62-7. It was sent to the Senate and eventually passed on March 16 in a 36-0 vote. The twin bill in the senate, SB 236, was also passed by senate in a 39-2 vote on March 8.

NMSU Carlsbad will become the Southeast New Mexico College as a legal entity on July 1, 2021. NMSU Carlsbad is hoping to completely separate from the NMSU system by April 10, 2022, not including the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center.

NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu said in an email that NMSU’s position is that they believe whatever is best for the students is what should be done, and that they will work to ensure a smooth transition.

“From the very beginning, we stated we would prioritize what was in the best interest of our students, and that continues to be the case,” the chancellor’s email read. “We are also making the commitment to our current NMSU Carlsbad students that if they wish to continue pursuing a degree or credential from NMSU, we will make sure they have an opportunity to do so.”

The NMSU-Carlsbad branch has wanted to become independent for quite some time, but the vision began to take traction following the cut of the president position at the Carlsbad location.

Following this decision, the mayor of Carlsbad assembled a task force to research the college becoming independent.

“What we did was listen to community input, listen to presentations, listened to the case for why NMSU Carlsbad wanted to go independent. It became very clear the community was very supportive of that,” Gerry Washburn, the superintendent of the Carlsbad Municipal Public Schools and one of the members on the task force, said.

Washburn said many volunteers came to help the task force and were really committed to helping the task force from the beginning.

“I think that that was the thing that was probably most impressive to me, the variety of people on the task force that were engaged from the very onset and really willing to volunteer their time and do whatever they needed to do to move the process along,” Washburn said.

Washburn said that he and the community feel that becoming independent from the NMSU system will allow them more freedom to change the curriculum to fit the needs of the community.

Washburn noted the goal is to focus the high school into a “career-academies model,” and be able to offer dual credit to the soon-to-be independent college.

“The school district had a good relationship with New Mexico State, obviously they’ve helped us form our early college high school here, that resides on that campus. But what we see is that this will give us an opportunity to really enhance our career technical education, it will enable us to expand all opportunities for our students,” Washburn said.

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