ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – University of New Mexico President Dr. Garnett Stokes reflected on a very different year while delivering a virtual State of the University address on Thursday.
Dr. Stokes announced UNM’s goals for 2021. A main theme was how the university adjusted to the pandemic, thanking the health sciences staff who have been working on the front lines and commending UNM faculty and students for their work.
“We had to change the way classes were held, ensure vital research continued and do everything we could to support our Lobos as we all adjusted to what has been considered the new normal,” Dr. Stokes.
Dr. Stokes said one of the biggest hurdles for students while remote learning was finding adequate internet or a laptop, with UNM providing hundreds of laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots.
She said there’s more work to be done when it comes to bolstering campus safety, including the ongoing search for a new campus police chief.
Meanwhile, UNM is re-evaluating its spending priorities for 2021. When the state’s budget for the fiscal year was revised, that cut UNM’s and the health sciences center’s budget by $44 million.
“As a result, we have greatly slowed hiring of faculty who are the heart and soul of the university. We have restructured offices and reallocated budgets to protect the core of our academic mission,” Dr. Stokes.
It wasn’t all grim news. Dr. Stokes highlighted the noteworthy work of UNM’s Health Sciences Center in tackling the pandemic. They’ve been identifying and testing potentially life-saving therapies to treat covid patients; and using a 3D printer to make masks and shields, to name a couple of projects.
Despite the pandemic, the fall 2020 freshman class enrollment was actually 7% higher than it was the previous year. Four- and six-year graduation rates reached highs of 35% and 56%, respectively, for the May 2020 class. Dr. Stokes said that still isn’t high enough.