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Student housing occupancy on the upswing

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By Carol A. Clark

In spite of a $63,000 deficit, student housing at the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos is stabilizing and actually improving.

Campus Resources Director Lisa Clough told Advisory Board members Monday evening that while a deficit still remains, a full occupancy rate during one summer and fall time period will provide the college $350,000 in revenue.

They had 100 percent occupancy this summer, she said, and are currently measuring 50 percent for the fall.

“The critical thing is to really look at expenditures,” Clough said. As an example she mentioned that utilities doubled last year.

UNM-LA officials have spent the last several months assessing and improving the performance of each auxiliary enterprise at the college and are seeing a marked improvement in several areas.

The college bookstore is now operating in the black and has built up a balance of $14,000, she said. The food service remains in the red but plans are in place to reverse that trend.

Clough also said the tuition fee component is critical and must be carefully watched.

Executive Director Cedric Page informed the board that by the end of the month he and Clough will meet with auxiliary managers.

Earlier in the year they withheld 50 percent of their budgets until they could get a handle on the status of each enterprise.

That being accomplished, they will meet with each manager to determine how those withheld funds will be allocated, he said.

Page presented the draft of a project that has been in the works since April – Strategic Framework: 2008 and Beyond.

The draft is a composite of staff, faculty and community member input towards the creation of the mission, vision, values, strategies and priorities of the college. He asked the board to review the document and respond at its next meeting.

Page briefed board members on his recent activities, which include assisting the Eight Northern New Mexico Pueblos in the development of a charter school geared towards technology. The first site for consideration, he said, is just east of Pojoaque High School.

Page and his staff have been working with Workforce Solutions to create a Career Readiness Certification Program to be offered at the college. The program develops the participant's soft skills to obtain and retain employment.

The program is being developed in response to a growing trend in which employers require the certification before accepting a job seeker’s application.

Another program in which UNM-LA is getting involved could lead to expanded employment opportunities.

Because there is a shortage of trained and qualified court interpretors, the administrative office of the court approached the college to work with them to develop a curriculum for the program.

Just before the meeting got underway Monday, the board surprised Page with a floral arrangement in honor of his birthday.

The next advisory board meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 10.

The meeting is open the public.