The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Year in Review: We're all Hounds now

 

December 23, 2015



Editor's note: This is one in a series of stories recapping news events in 2015. It will continue through Jan. 1.

and David Stevens

Clovis Media Inc.

Enrollment increases, a name change, an anniversary celebration and a cross-town move highlighted 2015 in higher education around eastern New Mexico.

Eastern New Mexico University President Steve Gamble said he’ll remember 2015 as somewhat routine ... in a good way.

“I can tell you our biggest accomplishment is continuing to graduate students with a good education and sending them out to do good things,” Gamble said. “That’s our greatest accomplishment every year.”

That foundation, he believes, has led to 19 consecutive years of fall enrollment increases.

“I think without a doubt the reputation (helps with the growth),” Gamble said.

“Before I ever got to Eastern, it was a very strong school, and people think good thoughts when they hear ENMU. Without a strong positive reputation, it would be difficult if not impossible for any school to sustain growth like we have.”

ENMU reported its 2015 fall enrollment at 5,946 students — 4,574 undergraduates and 1,372 graduate students. The fall 2014 enrollment included 4,600 undergraduates and 1,287 graduate students.

The Portales university had 4,248 enrolled in the fall of 1975, then saw numbers drop before rebounding above 4,000 again in 2005 and continuing to increase steadily.

But the year was not without controversy.

The women’s sports teams changed nicknames, from the Lady Zias to the Greyhounds.

“I think it was the right time to make both men’s and women’s teams the Greyhounds, and the students, a great majority of students, and alumni agreed,” Gamble said.

But not everyone agreed.

ENMU alumni Scot Stinnett said the university misled the public about its reasons for wanting to change the name of the women’s sports teams.

It had more to do with money from a licensing contract than with concerns that the Zia symbol might be offensive to Native Americans, Stinnett said.

“Presentations to student-athletes to sell the change were made focusing on the plight of the Zia Pueblo people, not the marketing agreement that helped the committee locate its social conscious,” Stinnett wrote in a guest newspaper column.

Clovis’ branch of Wayland Baptist University moved uptown in January, a change college officials applauded after their downtown offices had to be abandoned because of structural concerns in 2013. They spent more than a year holding classes in temporary locations, including the First Baptist Church.

The new Wayland campus is in the Master’s Centre next to Java Loft at 21st and Prince streets.

Dean Gary Mitchell said the change was significant on multiple fronts.

For one, it has a more “collegiate atmosphere,” surrounded by activity, he said.

Plus, he said, “We’ve got, I think, state-of-the-art technology in our classrooms. It’s just a wonderful place where we are right now.”

Clovis Community College celebrated its 25th year as an independent community college in 2015.

It celebrated in September, opening a time capsule and remembering its earliest days as a branch of ENMU in 1961.

It’s come a long way since then, University President Becky Rowley said, and has found a unique voice in the education community.

“One of the things we’ve decided over the past five or six years is we see our niche in health care,” Rowley said in September.

“We’ll branch into things as the job market decides we need to be doing them. We don’t have to worry about going through ENMU for that.”

Another 2015 highlight: CCC received two U.S. Department of Education grants aimed at developing opportunities for Hispanic and low-income students.

A cooperative grant between CCC and ENMU has a “primary focus on establishing a stronger career path for Hispanic and low-income students seeking degrees in education,” CCC officials reported.

CCC is expected to receive about $200,000 annually for the next five years.

The second grant is worth $525,000 annually and its purpose is to “increase student persistence, retention, and completion with innovative teaching strategies in both face-to-face and online classroom settings,” according to a CCC news release.

 
 

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