Doctor Patrice Caldwell talks about the Fall 2021 Commencement and the upcoming Legislative session
CRISS: This is Southwest Spotlight on the KENW, Public Radio Network. With me now is Doctor Patrice Caldwell, the President of Eastern New Mexico University here in Portales. And Doctor Caldwell, we had a very good, very pleasing semester last semester. Could you give me your thoughts on what- what happened here at Eastern in Portales?
CALDWELL: Thank you, John. I'd love to do that. We had a very good fall semester. We had lots of student engagement on campus. The faculty and staff were very supportive, encouraging students to stay the course and deal with COVID. And- and to rise above it and pursue their degrees. I think we had very good success with that. We gradua...- we awarded 500- over 500 degrees in the December graduation. 290 of those students walked in Greyhound Arena, which was a wonderful and joyful experience. And we hooded a great many masters candidates, which is always a wonderful Historic moment. I think for the campus to award those and for the individuals to have that experience. And the bachelor and associate students also- also, were very active in celebrating with their parents and friends, so it was a wonderful experience all around. 120 Associates, 268 bachelor's, and 119 Masters degrees were awarded, all totaled.
CALDWELL: A very successful conclusion for the Fall Semester.
CRISS: That is- that's certainly a great experience for any of us who've worked here. It was- We will never take commencement for granted again.
CALDWELL: I agree completely, yes.
CRISS: Very good. What can we look forward to this coming semester? How are things going so far?
CALDWELL: So, the Fall- Spring semester starts early with athletic competitions. We've already had women's and men's basketball playing in the arena to really good audiences and lots of community and campus support. But classes began right after Martin Luther King Day, so on January 18th. So, we're still enrolling students, and we're, of course, happy to have them back. And we know that there is concern about COVID. We're being particularly careful to make sure that the campus and our facilities are completely ready for them. We're also getting ready for the New Mexico legislative session. The 30-day session this year, and there's a lot of- Let's just say, non-recurring money that may be available for various municipalities, agencies, and of course, higher education. So special needs arising from COVID, construction projects, new initiatives to help students to-to give student services additional funding and support. All of these are swirling around Santa Fe. And as always, we greatly appreciate the legislators in our area and beyond who are so supportive of Eastern and its students. So, I look forward to a pretty wild 30-day session, but I'm most look forward to seeing the students back with us and happy to complete that last semester or that first semester or that 9th semester, or that interim semester, whatever it is so that they can keep pace with meeting their graduation requirements and fulfilling their dreams. Because that's would be best.
CRISS: Sounds great. Sounds great to me, and just quickly, I know you've worked all year getting ready for this legislative session as you always do. Are you ready? What do you think?
CALDWELL: I think this will be a very positive legislative session for higher education. We have wonderful support from, of course, Senator Stuart Ingle; Senator Gay Kernan: has helped us with the bill last year for Transfer and enhancement of transfer opportunities for students. We have some scholarships in the works that can be renewed. We have some opportunities: I think to do some really innovative things for our students and for enhancing the recovery from the pandemic and the higher education sector, also, in public education, which is of course very important to us too. We see the whole spectrum of education in New Mexico, and we support them K12, and they support us, so that's what I'm looking forward to. To seeing a new attention on bringing students back and enhancing the teacher education programs throughout the state. We're sorely in need of additional teachers and nurses. But I think the teaching crisis has really come home to a lot of parents during this pandemic, and all of us are going to be working very hard to address that concern.
CRISS: Well, thank you very much; and we appreciate all that you and Eastern Mexico University do for education in-in the state of New Mexico. Thanks for being here.
CALDWELL: Thank you, Don.
CRISS: Thanks for asking. This is Don Criss, and this had been Southwest Spotlight.