SENMC discusses plans for $4 million GO Bond for vocational center, college transition

Claudia L Silva
Carlsbad Current-Argus
Bill Murrill, Sarah Jo Bowman, Ned Elkins, Mark Cage and Tiffany Frintz meet for the first time as the Southeast New Mexico College Board of Trustees.

The Southeast New Mexico College (SENMC) Board of Trustees held a meeting on Jan. 31 to discuss details on the transition to an independent college and the construction of a vocational training center.

College representatives said the center would offer vocational training in partnership with local industries to help meet the region's workforce needs.

New Mexico State University Carlsbad Interim President Dr. Andrew Nwanne said the college will need bond funding to make the project possible. He said the college requested a $4 million General Obligation Bond in the upcoming election, but the Legislative Finance Committee may reduce that requested amount to $2 million.

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Jay Jenkins, a member of Carlsbad mayor's Higher Education Task Force, told the Current-Argus the college would have access to a $40 million surplus after the transition is complete that the council would need to manage and decide how to spend the funding.

"All colleges and universities raise funds for institutional priorities. Southeast New Mexico College is not an exception," Nwanne stated in an email when asked why the bond is necessary, given the surplus.

Nwanne said the college had also promised to set aside $4 million and is planning to raise funds with the help of businesses and foundations.

The bond is expected to be voted on during the upcoming November election.

New Mexico State University- Carlsbad Interim President Dr. Andrew Nwanne discusses the transition to Southeast New Mexico College.

Transition to SENMC

The council also discussed various topics related to the transition from NMSU Carlsbad to SENMC. District 5 councilmember Ned Elkins announced plans to find a temporary college president until the college can officially hire a permanent one.

"I am convinced we need to be extremely judicious and careful in this process, given that what I am announcing is a process to request applications for the job," Elkins said.

Elkins said the board plans to make an appointment for a temporary interim president during its next regular meeting on Feb. 7.

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Nwanne also mentioned the importance of updating the college's website and ensuring it is mobile-friendly.

“Our current website is not smartphone friendly,” Nwanne said. “Most of the students access the institution’s website through a smartphone.” 

The college will also explore hiring a branding consultant to aid with the transition, Nwanne said.

The board met on Feb. 4 for a work session to discuss a variety of topics related to the transition ranging from infrastructure needs to budgeting.

Claudia Silva is a reporter from the UNM Local Reporting Fellowship. She can be reached at, by phone at 575-628-5506 or on Twitter @thewatchpup.