Latest Article|September 3, 2020|Free::
Making Grown Men Cry Since 1992
It’s springtime. Very early springtime, but one can almost hear the birds chirping and the leaves of grass raising their heads in the bright New Mexico sunshine. In any case, it’s mid-January and time for the spring semester at a number of New Mexico higher education destinations. The good weather will come later.In the meantime, learning takes center stage and citizens from The Land of Enchantment have many choices as they prepare to tackle an increasingly complex world—armed with an education and the fine-tuned mind that often comes after such academic experiences.Weekly Alibi has written about some four-year institutions. We wear our bittersweet heart on our collective sleeves for the state’s flagship institution, The University of New Mexico. And we’ve done so proudly—and sometimes very critically—with memories and records of the school’s deeper issues leading the way in narratives and reports.We’ve also considered the roots of education in Albuquerque—the huge and sometimes labyrinthine system of schools known collectively as APS. Weekly Alibi has also spoken to folks in Burque at length about charter schools, school funding and this week, we even interviewed one of the state officials in charge of managing educational employees’ benefits and pensions to get the scoop on that funding issue.The dialogue on education, carried out here auspiciously and with just a bit of wit—and almost no brevity—has been informative to our readers; schools and education remain a priority for citizens as well as politicians.For instance, this year the state legislature will focus on issues related to education as it works to properly allocate and spend the windfall profits realized by our state’s association with the oil and gas industry.With all of that talk about education filling up news reports, personal experience and legislative motions, Weekly Alibi went looking for the latest in educational news in Duke City, N.M.Looking past the tilted and sometimes bedraggled ivory towers of Loboland, through the complexity of intention and situation that is the Albuquerque Public Schools, we found a place called Central New Mexico Community College.With four campuses and a workforce training center, CNM, as the institution is popularly known, has been a beacon of light for more than 50 years. The variety of education the institution provides not only ranges from classes oriented toward high school students working on graduation but also toward 4-year college prep, instruction and certification in a number of trades and new programs that reflect the school’s leadership role in interfacing with and helping grow the local economy.CNM also recently named a new president. Tracy Hartzler, CNM’s former Vice President for Finance and Operations—an insider with experience and vision—was recently named to a post that is both forward-looking and steeped in a tradition of providing education to a very wide variety of people looking for a better life through learning.HistoryKnown previously as the Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute (Albuquerque TVI), CNM came to be in 1964 with a mission directed at adult learners. In 1979 the institution was accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges, the main arbiter of collegiate quality in this part of the nation.Popular history attributes the founding of the school to Louis E. Saavedra, an educator from Tokay, N.M. in Socorro County. Saavedra served as the school’s leader—he was TVI’s principal first and later its president—from the school’s beginnings until he was elected Mayor of the City of Albuquerque in December 1989.According to late former CNM governing board chair Robert Matteucci, Saavedra was responsible for evolving the institution outward from a technical-vocational focus to a broader mission, telling the local daily, He was instrumental in making us a well-rounded community college.”Although known as the “stealth mayor” for his low-key political style, Saavedra is remembered as an efficient mayor whose legacy remains his focus on educating citizens in Albuquerque. By 1979, the school had opened a branch campus in the far Northeast Heights with plans to expand into the South Valley and the Westside. The institution bloomed as a regional community college while expanding academic offerings to the community as well as training and certification programs for trades such as auto mechanics and culinary arts.Now as CNM enters the third decade of the 20th century, the school offers a comprehensive distance learning program, a school of Adult and General Education that teaches everything from computer basics to English, a liberal arts program that leads to further study at four-year institutions like UNM, a school of applied technologies that offers certificate and associate degree programs in areas that include manufacturing and design as well as new programs in economically mindful and locally needed areas like nursing, film production and brewery technology.CNM has hundreds of certificate and degree programs available now. Those areas of study are very diverse and include studies in information technology, business, public safety and engineering.And facilities continue to sprout from the fertile ground first sown by Saavedra almost 56 years ago. Using money from recent bond elections, CNM is prepared to break ground on a new brewery training facility, is teaming up with the City of Albuquerque to begin work on classroom and production spaces at Albuquerque’s Railyards and has developed a business innovation incubator Downtown.With four campuses spread lovingly over the city, CNM seems to be the city education center of the future. To find out more, we went to visit the community college’s new president, Tracy Hartzler.PresidentHartzler, a Hoosier, came out to New Mexico while practicing law in the nation’s capital. She’s lived in The Land of Enchantment for about 10 years and has served at CNM since 2015. Previously she worked with the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee, helping devise changes to funding formulas for higher education in New Mexico.We asked the new president about CNM’s place in the community, the school’s positioning in city economic development and the new directions the community college is taking as a leader in our state’s progressive education vanguard Hartzler told Weekly Alibi that for the past 10 years, she’s had the pleasure of watching as CNM’s students, faculty and leadership team grow. She said that she’s “impressed with the vision, the hard work and the commitment to achievement.”Hartzler continued relating that an important aspect of her appointment involved having “been on the inside helping to support President Winograd and the board achieve some of the goals and changes” that will inevitably sustain and grow the school.Hartzler added that many of CNM’s goals and changes directly impact the community. Career technical education in particular has an impact on citizens in the Albuquerque economic sphere, as does the school’s “increasingly important role in college transfer, in our partnerships with UNM, New Mexico Tech and New Mexico State University.”Further, the new CNM president is committed to achieving the goals and vision that the CNM Governing Board has long worked for. Student success is a priority, she said, from higher graduation rates for the traditional students enrolled in CNM dual credit high school program to adults coming back to school to be retrained. “We value success among all types of students,” she emphasized.Community success is also part of that vision, according to Hartzler. “We have a strong presence in the community,” the new president told Weekly Alibi, “We want to make sure that our strategic plan reflects on the quality partnerships we have, expanding the partnerships we have. … Certainly we want to work closely with local school districts here and in Rio Rancho as well as with local employers, both government and private.”As the school expands further into Albuquerque and Rio Rancho communities, building solid business relationships as it grows, more programs will be offered, including training courses that reflect the growing need for specialized technicians in the film and brewing industries—areas of the local economy that are also growing steadily.Hartzler says her school is ready for the challenge, adding during our conversation, “CNM has a long history of participating in the film and television industry. We’ve been working [on this program] in some version for the past 15 years. It isn’t a surprise that NBC or others signed up to be a hub for providing for a talented workforce. They’re ready to roll and certainly, our graduates have been involved. We’re very proud of that relationship. We know that as we work with other institutions on film initiatives, we know we can contribute our history as well as continue to grow with new partnerships. We know there’s growth. We’re going to build on a strong history at CNM with the film industry.”Hartzler also acknowledged that small business was the backbone of Albuquerque’s economy, concluding that she was very pleased to be involved in developing the new CNM Brewing Academy. “ We continue to develop partnerships with local brewers, these are places where our students can learn and work. We also have a significant capital investment in the program.” Bond money from the last municipal election will be used to build a new brewing facility on campus. Hartzler says that CNM “will break ground during this calendar year. Our community is making a substantial investment in providing the infrastructure that we need to expand our successful brewing program.” CNM plans to seek out international or world-renowned faculty once the new facility is up and running.CoursesBesides programs in beer brewing and film and television technology, what else is going on at CNM? With campuses near the university, in the heart of the South Valley, on the Westside and near the Sandias, the choices are as awesome as they are varied and voluminous.Here’s a look at some of the diverse educational opportunities with career connections offered this semester, Spring 2020, at CNM.• Deep Dive Coding Bootcamps. These are computer science programs that teach the fundamentals of coding and result in jobs within a growing local industry. CNM will be offering two of these 10-week training programs in February 2020; there will be a Data Science Program and a series of training sessions devoted to The Internet of Things. In Albuquerque, data scientists are in high demand according to Kyle Lee, the CEO at CNM Ingenuity.• CNM now has a certificate program in Unmanned Aircraft Systems. Learning to operate and fly drones has immediate application in today’s high tech world, says CNM Associate Dean Amy Ballard who was quoted as saying, “We started hearing from some of our industry partners that drones were becoming a really important tool in what they did. That would include construction management and surveying and mapping in particular."• The CNM Culinary Arts Program operates a model “bistro” on campus to teach essential and advanced restaurant skills through hands-on practice, where they learn everything from wine and beer pairing to cooking food to order and working in high-pressure business situations also while successfully managing the stress inherent in the environment.• CNM has a business incubator. Located at the Joseph A. Montoya campus in the Northeast Heights, this program is all about providing local small businesses with the tools they need to grow. That includes all sorts of classes and workshops—as well as a certificate program in entrepreneurship—that have an entrepreneurial focus, such as studies in market research, business registration and managing finances.• The community college also serves local high school students. CNM has a College and Career High School as well as a Native American Community Academy directed toward serving traditional high school students as they move forward into their post-secondary education phase. Students at the College and Career High School recieve dual credit; they get credits toward high school graduation requirements as well as college credits they can use to further their post-secondary studies.It would be practically impossible to list all the programs CNM provides as part of the institution’s mission to educate a wide swath of New Mexicans. In fact, the 22,000 students who attend the community college have a choice between over 200 associate degree, certificate and training programs.Spring is a season of growth. Everything is coming up classes now and flowers later. Perhaps it really is time to get on board with Saavedra’s original vision—as well as Hartzler’s new take on the subject—for an affordable education that’s available to all New Mexicans.