Planning for the journey ahead

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Administrators ask county council for financial assistance

By Kirsten Laskey

Councilors questioned UNM-LA’s unsuccessful campaign for a mil levy during Tuesday’s Los Alamos County Council meeting, when UNM-LA asked the county for financial assistance for FY 11’s operations.

Administrators and the UNM-LA advisory board asked themselves that same question during a special work session Wednesday at the college.

Board and staff discussed what direction should be taken from this point.

Ultimately, it was decided there was no room for hesitation. Action must be taken and advisory board members agreed to include an amendment on next month’s regular board meeting to discuss whether or to not pursue another mil levy election and if so, when.

With budget cuts, an increase in tuition, and the fact that $330,000 of one-time funding for 2011 which accounts for 10 percent of the college’s instruction in general, will go away in 2012. The local college is facing some dark horizons.

Therefore, to bring in some light, a few lessons need to be learned from the past election.

Chair Marie Chiravalle said one of the facts of the campaign was there wasn’t enough time. Two months, she said, is not enough time to put together a successful campaign.

Additionally, Chiravalle said there was no clear path and no leader to provide direction on a path.

There were also some mixed messages. For instance, she said she had presented that the college had not asked for mil levy or any other funds from the community for 27 years.

Later, Chiravalle learned it was 29 years. Distributing misinformation, she said, diminishes credibility.

“We need a much more organized, cohesive program (that) we can put out,” she said.

Plus, there was not enough effort to collect support from the faculty, students and parents.

The biggest lesson, Chiravalle said, is “we need to have people involved” and not be so “fly by night.”

There needs to publicity and a committee to the run campaign, she said.

Board secretary Micheline Devaurs commented they could learn a few things from the Los Alamos Public Schools’ bond election, which passed. She said cards and telephone calls were utilized in the schools’ election.

Devaurs added regardless of whether another mil levy is pursued, the board needs to come up with ways to have a stronger presence in the community.

Plus, more fundraisers should be held, she said.

Chiravalle agreed. “We need to build community support,” she said.

In fact, Chiravalle argued that fundraising should be held soon to raise funds for any future election campaigns.

Board member Nelson Hoffman wondered if the college had a foundation.

UNM-LA Executive Director Cedric Page said they do not have a foundation due to legal issues. He added it would be a costly and a long-term process.

However, the college does have a foundation development committee  which meets quarterly and has seven to eight active members who help with fundraising activities.

Pat Boyer, director of student affairs, said she was pursuing a possible fundraiser along with other faculty members and Min Park, owner of Central Avenue Grill.

She explained the fundraiser would be similar to the Los Alamos Family YMCA’s Red and Black Ball.

The event, Boyer said, would allow different businesses and individuals to sponsor a table as well as feature a live and silent auction.

Park, Boyer reported, recommended that the fundraiser be held annually and on the same day such as Sept. 3, so people eventually just plan on it.

Boyer added Park is really interested in assisting with this fundraiser.

“He’s excited about it and willing to help us,” she said.

Page added besides raising money for the college, the event would be an opportunity to recruit more “friends” or supporters for UNM-LA.

Chiravalle pointed out that any fundraising for potential elections should be separate from any efforts to raise revenue in general.

In regard to other avenues for raising awareness and support, the advisory board discussed turning to the faculty and students.

Hoffman commented students would be a great resource as far as getting messages out about UNM-LA.

“I think they could be an effective sales force,” he said. “Kids are very appealing if they can get the message across.”

He added they could serve many roles such as providing additional horse power or serving as a test audience.

Chiravalle agreed, saying student organizations such as student government could be utilized.

Additionally, the board commented that alumni could also be contacted.

At the conclusion of the meeting, it seemed perhaps some light was already starting to peek through the darkness.

“I think we learned a lot of lessons,” Kate Massengale, dean, said, “and I think there are a lot of things we can do.”