Wednesday, August 30, 2006

More UNM

I seem to keep returning to the subject, but can someone please tell me why our "flagship" university needs multiple campuses in a metro area with less than 1 million people? A quick drive by the main campus will make apparent to anyone the need for rehabilitation and opportunities for expansion. Why do they need to create two more campuses in which to spread resources that are limited already.

A year ago, the Boston Globe published an article comparing the cities of Worcester, MA and Providence, RI. Both cities are of similar size and have similar make-ups. The one noted, major difference being Providence is the largest city in its respective state whereas Worchester is in Boston's shadow. However, the writer covered an angle that I think perfectly reflects what our city is doing incorrectly, and that is how the universities played a role that directly affected themselves and their hometowns. Brown and Johnson & Whales located facilities and student housing in the heart of Providences' downtown. The city and university worked together with a unified goal, resulting in a vibrant core with a vibe that has attracted investment from the corporate world to invest in their own buildings as well as improving public spaces. The world now looks at Providence as a success story, attracting technology companies, artists, young and old alike. Worcester, until very recently was still tying go get out of first gear. Their officials had poor communication and companies were moving out of downtown to the suburbs. Sound familiar?



Finally, with a change in officials combined with a change in attitude, Worcester finally worked together with the university to build an extension downtown. In turn, new proposals have come out of the private sector including one, alone, that is worth $500 million. That is the combined amount the city of Albuquerque has seen since 1998.

This is only one example of where working together has been the catalyst for major change. I don't understand how we can see these examples everywhere and still let it happen to ourselves. When we look to other cities as our friends and children move away for "more exciting" places with greater opportunities, we have only ourselves to blame.


Steve said...

I have been wondering the same thing since this was announced. I realize UNM is no UT-Austin, but I was trying to imagine the UT system announcing a major campus in Round Rock. The key to growing the UNM experience is turning it into a student housing centric university. Setting up commuter/competing campuses all over the state isn't the answer.

Michelle Meaders said...

I think it's "Johnson & Wales".

What is the other city besides Rio Rancho proposed for a campus?

Not many students in New Mexico can afford to go straight through right out of high school. What percent of UNM's students are commuters now? Rio Rancho probably sees this as a way to improve their downtown. Didn't you say that it revitalized the Mass. town to have the college there working well?

Tim said...

Mesa del Sol also has a campus as part of its plan. It is no urban campus, either.

Not many student can afford to go straight to UNM right now of high school? How many of those students are on the lottery system? Their education is paid for if they're dedicated. Do we really always want UNM to be a commuter campus? This is our flagship university, not a community college. There is currently 2,400 students in dormitory housing on campus. That's only 10%. I'd be willing to bet at least 40% actually commute in from beyond the surrounding neighborhoods.

I think the plan is intelligent on the part of Rio Rancho. But I do not think it is smart for UNM and the city of Albuquerque. Albuquerque should be the one working to bring in the intellect and energy of the university to the city, not allowing it to sprawl like the suburbs. And UNM doesn't realize that it's a part of their reputation to have ho-hum campuses spread all over a metro area.