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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Superior instructors sought

State endowment aims to attract faculty, students

assistant-news@dailylobo.com
@ChloeHenson5

The governor has proposed initiatives that would grant millions to higher education institutions in the state.

At a press conference last month, Gov. Susana Martinez announced proposals that include appropriating $7.5 million to the higher education endowment fund for New Mexico universities.

According to a press release, the initiatives aim to attract “top faculty” to colleges and universities in New Mexico by giving the schools money to compete for endowed chairs. An endowed chair is one who holds a prestigious academic position that is paid for through endowment funds, according to the release.

Martinez outlined the importance of recruiting exceptional faculty to New Mexico universities at the press conference.

“If we can attract the best and brightest professors and researchers to our universities, we can continually improve the quality of research and output from them,” she said. “In turn, we’ll attract the best and brightest students. And when those students graduate college, we need them to stay here and work in one of our leading tech firms, our labs or start their own companies.”

UNM President Robert Frank added that attracting endowed chairs to the state will help make its universities more appealing to academically exceptional students.

“The highest honor we can bestow upon our faculty is the distinction of an endowed chair,” he said at the press conference. “It recognizes their uniqueness and provides valuable financial support for their research, teaching and service. When we attract and retain the best faculty, then the best and brightest students will flock to our universities and become the future of our state.”

The new plan also involves reforming the higher education endowment fund so endowment money is distributed on a project-by-project basis rather than being determined by a formula, according to the release.

The current endowment formula does not take important factors into account, Martinez said.

“Right now that formula is not based on which projects are the most promising or the most innovative or the most likely to attract the best and brightest to New Mexico, and that’s not right,” Martinez said.

Martinez said the endowment will help provide more promising employees to science and technology employers.

“By improving the quality of students we attract to New Mexico universities, we will pave the path for our labs and our high-tech companies to have a high-quality, workforce-ready employee straight out of college,” she said.