NMSU enrollment increase is good news for Chancellor Arvizu, President Floros

Data shows enrollment met "aggressive target" set last year

Algernon D'Ammassa
Las Cruces Sun-News
Students navigate New Mexico State University's main campus in Las Cruces on Friday, Sept. 27, 2019.

LAS CRUCES - New Mexico State University's new leadership celebrated some encouraging figures on student enrollment this month.

The university reported its first increase in overall enrollment since 2010 across its campuses in Las Cruces and Doña Ana County, Alamogordo, Carlsbad and Grants. 

New freshman and graduate enrollment in Las Cruces reached its highest mark since the fall of 2011, thanks to a jump in new graduate students with 782 enrolling compared to 656 last fall.

The fall student headcount of 24,041 across the university system showed a slight upturn from last year's count of 24,010 at the same time last year, after decreasing headcounts over the past decade. The count is considerably lower than 30,866 students counted in the fall of 2010, but NMSU showed this year's count as a sign that the slide has "stabilized." 

At the main campus in Las Cruces, combined freshman and graduate enrollment was reported at 14,296 students, effectively level with last year's enrollment of 14,289 but slowing a years-long decline. 

New graduate student enrollment jumped this year, boosting combined freshman and new graduate enrollment to its highest level since 2011.

"In conversations with new students we consistently hear that they come here because they want a top-tier education with a highly diverse student body at one of the lowest costs in the nation," NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu said in a statement. "It’s a great time to be an NMSU Aggie.”

MORE:Governor proposes free college for New Mexico students

It was a rosier report than what Arvizu and NMSU President John Floros forecast a year ago. At that time, the leadership told university regents they expected a 5% decrease in enrollment this year, but hoped to meet "an aggressive target" of 14,300, which would "indicate that we're turning that boat around."

The new data suggests they met that target. 

Keep up with reporting on higher education in your community: subscribe to the Las Cruces Sun-News today.

Enrollment is one of the measures that will figure into bonuses awarded to the university's new leadership.

Arvizu and Floros were both hired last year to succeed Chancellor Garrey Carruthers. Their combined base salaries are $950,000, a substantial increase over the $373,450 earned by Carruthers.

New Mexico State University Chancellor Dan Arvizu, left, and President John Floros, at the Oct. 3, 2018 NMSU Board of Regents meeting when they predicted a deeper decline in enrollment for this fall. The fall 2019 headcount delivered better news.

Additionally, Arvizu is eligible for a 30 percent performance-based bonus in his first year with increased bonuses up to 50 percent later. Floros is eligible for similar bonuses ranging from 25 to 40 percent.

MORE:New Mexico Space Grant at NMSU has storied legacy, looking to next 30 years

Analysis of new enrollment data including age, ethnic diversity, percentage of New Mexico residents, and breakdown of enrollment at different colleges, has not yet been completed. The university's office of institutional analysis posts the data on its web page, oia.nmsu.edu.

Last fall's enrollment data indicated that 70 percent of NMSU students were New Mexico residents, with 56 percent of Hispanic background. 

In keeping with the strategic plan presented by Arvizu and Floros, the university will also report data on social mobility and employment of graduates.

Algernon D'Ammassa can be reached at 575-541-5451, adammassa@lcsun-news.com or @AlgernonWrites on Twitter.

MORE:NMSU engineering professor helps organize international forum in South Africa