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Albuquerque business leaders meet with NMSU President Couture

ALBUQUERQUE - New Mexico State University President Barbara Couture met Albuquerque business leaders at a special Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce reception on May 18 at Scalo's Italian Restaurant in the Nob Hill District.



New Mexico State University President Barbara Couture meets with Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry during a meeting with Albuquerque business leaders at a special Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce reception on May 18 at Scalo's Italian Restaurant in the Nob Hill District. (NMSU Photo by Jane Moorman)

Among the leaders present were Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry and chamber president Del Archuleta, a former member of the NMSU Board of Regents and recent recipient of an NMSU honorary degree.

"This was an opportunity for these business leaders to meet me and share their thoughts about the future of our university," Couture said. "Several NMSU alumni were present, such as Del Archuleta and Larry Lujan, who have supported us in many ways."

Couture spoke about the first five months of her presidency, which has included campaigning for funding during the state legislative session, visiting NMSU community colleges in Grants, Carlsbad and Alamogordo, and meeting Cooperative Extension Service agents to learn about the programs they are providing in New Mexico communities.

"I think we have some real challenges ahead of us," she said of the state budget, "but we've got some real community spirit that's going to help us get through them."

She encouraged those present to support the general obligation bonds for higher education that will be on the November ballot.

"There are several important issues for both NMSU and UNM on these bond approval initiatives. I hope you will think carefully about how taxpayer support is still very important to our public institutions and how much those facilities mean to extending educational opportunities in New Mexico," she said.

Funds from the bonds will build a new Public Policy Center on the Las Cruces campus, expanding classrooms for students in the College of Business, and expand the Dona Ana Community College center in Gadsden; both are NMSU projects.

"New Mexico is very fortunate to have three great research universities - NMSU, the University of New Mexico and New Mexico Tech University," she told the group. "These are great assets for the state, and we hope you will continue to support these institutions."

Speaking of research conducted at NMSU, Couture told them of the $44 million biofuel project "that hopefully will provide new opportunities for new energy resources in the state of New Mexico."

She added that "NMSU has worked with the science, engineering and math fields, particularly in the public schools, to increase teachers' awareness of those areas, and also their proficiency in teaching in those areas, so we can start building a better, more educated workforce in this state."

She gave business leaders an update on the NMSU Foundation capital campaign, saying, "We are now at $221 million and hope to reach our goal of $225 million when we close the campaign in December. This is a very important first step in a fundraising program that will support our great research university."

Couture also spoke about her recent visit to the University of New Mexico as a guest of President David Schmidly.

"We want to have increased partnerships with UNM," she said.

Partnering with other higher education institutions in the state is important, except on the athletic field.

"I just want to remind you that we have a great athletic program," she said as alumni in the audience cheered. "I think having two great, competitive athletic programs in the state is good for the state. It's good for building spirit in the state and good for showing young students the kind of fun they can have on the college campus while getting a good education."