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Friday, December 19, 2014

Associated Students of the University of New Mexico President Caroline Muraida looks forward to spring semester

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While many students hibernated over winter break, ASUNM President Caroline Muraida was looking for ways to secure a future for the New Mexico Lottery Legislative Success Scholarship.

She said that because the scholarship helps many students at the University, ASUNM is looking for ways to preserve it and plans to focus on the scholarship this semester.

“The Lottery Scholarship is near and dear to me because I know the magnitude of the effect it has on students,” she said. “I have family members who utilize the Lottery Scholarship. Part of my tuition is also being funded by the Lottery Scholarship. It’s a huge issue for all New Mexicans.”

Muraida said surveys conducted after the Lottery Scholarship forum last November indicated that respondents support a merit-based approach to keep the scholarship funded. This approach would put more emphasis on students’ academic eligibility. She said 88 percent of the respondents in the survey were students.

“We’ve run scenarios, we’ve run data, we’ve been looking at research from other states, it’s been a very thorough process to try to address a solution, but for the first time the solution is coming from the students,” she said. “I think that’s the most meaningful. Because it affects so many students, to me that implies that student input should be at the forefront of any solution.”

Looking back at last fall semester, Muraida said ASUNM and other students stepped forward when welcoming President Frank to the University.

“We welcomed President Frank at his inauguration — students had a big presence there,” she said. “They were a large part of the audience, and I thought that was special.” Muraida said that in the past two weeks, ASUNM has helped student Heidi Overton adjust to her new role as student regent. Overton will take on that position if the New Mexico state Senate confirms Gov. Susana Martinez’s nomination of Overton. Muraida said ASUNM has kept Overton up to date with the issues ASUNM is tackling.

Muraida said she plans to work alongside President Frank on the responsibility-centered management model for the UNM budget, which Frank recently proposed. Responsibility-centered management means departments’ budgets will be based on performance, and funding for departments will depend more heavily on how much money the department brings in. Muraida said the planning team hasn’t made any concrete plans as of yet.

“As the undergraduate representative to the planning team, we’re taking our time with the structure and categorization before we even talk about implementing a program,” she said. “The University community is sitting down at a table and seeing which is the best way to approach a new system. That’s been a very participatory process, one that I hope to engage the whole University community in a bit more.”

Coverage of the Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA)’s plans for this semester will run on Tuesday.