Mayor, UNM try to encourage high school grads to stay in the Duke City


It’s a new push by the city and the University of New Mexico to encourage high school students to stay and go to college in Albuquerque, but some call it a desperate approach.

“Their son received a letter. Their son’s entering college next fall and got this letter from Mayor Tim Keller,” says Paul Gessing.

A letter was sent out to high school seniors who were accepted into UNM this fall, signed by Mayor Tim Keller. “Essentially urging him to consider going to the University of New Mexico, offering some benefits about staying Albuquerque,” says Gessing.

Paul Gessing of the Rio Grande Foundation says the mother of the student brought the letter to his attention. “Her bringing this to me was kind of, this is odd. This is unusual. My son’s applied to schools in different cities, different states,” he says.

In the letter, Mayor Keller acknowledges the problems within the city but says he’s working on it. He then encourages students to stay in Albuquerque and choose UNM, with incentives like being able to serve on public boards and commissions, and free bus passes. “I just thought it was a little bit desperate,” says Gessing.

Gessing says it’s far from an incentive. “I don’t think the bus system is a big selling point for the city of Albuquerque,” he says.

The Director of Marketing for the city says Gessing isn’t seeing the full picture. “Young people that are 18+ are every bit a part of making decisions at a city, and city hall, so we want to engage people at the earliest that we can engage them,” says Carlos Contreras.

He believes students will take up the offers listed in the letter. “I think some of the incentives [that] were listed, to me personally, are incentives for being in a city. We’re just encouraging young people to be a part of the solution,” Contreras says.

There are three different versions of the letter. One was sent to Albuquerque students who were already accepted to UNM. The second is targeted towards students outside of the city. The third was sent to graduate students.

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