One employee at UNM San Juan Center will now help with student recruitment

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FARMINGTON — Catherine Walker Grobler will continue helping University of New Mexico students at the school's San Juan Center even after recent organizational changes reduced staff and office space at six UNM locations statewide.

To reduce operating expenses, UNM eliminated 16 positions in its Bachelor and Graduate Field Centers at six Statewide Education Centers, including one in Farmington.

The move was part of shifting responsibilities from UNM's Extended Learning Division to the college’s Division of Enrollment Management, Terry Babbit, associate vice president of enrollment management, told The Daily Times in April.

UNM Student Success Specialist Maria Stutsman y Marquez said the university has hired back two employees to work at its Farmington and Gallup education centers and is currently looking to hire two more employees to work in other parts of the state.

She said layoffs were necessary to deal with budget constraints and changes in technology.

"The reorganization has definitely been a shift, and we want to make sure the community knows we still have programs available, and we do have people in place to help them get started,” Stutsman y Marquez said.

At the UNM San Juan Center inside the San Juan College 30th Street campus, Grobler was the only employee hired back. Three employees at the Farmington location were laid off.

The office space at the location has been reduced from four classrooms and four offices to one classroom and two office after UNM eliminated its interactive television courses. UNM has instead focused on offering online courses in which students meet at a scheduled time each week, Grobler said.

"We are going to continue doing an excellent job with fewer staff and a smaller space," Grobler said.

As part of the transition, Grobler’s title changed to "student recruitment specialist." She will help students throughout the application process, as well as with the initial steps of applying for financial aid and preparing for their first semester.

Staff at UNM's main campus in Albuquerque will now advise students as they work toward graduating.

"At the moment, I am serving any student who walks into UNM seeking information," Grobler said. "What has changed is that I am referring more students when they have more specific advisement needs to main campus advisers."

Grobler will also provide services for students pursuing new online degree programs, including a bachelor's degree in Chicana and Chicano studies and in Native American Studies.

"What we want to do is provide quality education and seamless access for students in New Mexico interested in pursuing higher education," Stutsman y Marquez said.

Students enrolled in the teacher education program at the San Juan Center will continue to take classes in Farmington taught by a local professor.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

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