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Highlands retools grad requirements

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By Martin Salazar

New Mexico Highlands University regents signed off last week on a plan to reduce the number of upper division credit hours required to graduate from the current 51 to 45, and regents also approved a measure that will allow the university to waive the two-credit- hour physical education requirement for student athletes.

Highlands President Jim Fries told the board that it’s all part of a larger plan for the faculty and administration to look at all of the university’s graduation requirements and retool them so that they make more sense and give students a better chance of leaving Highlands with a degree.

The PE requirement, for example, doesn’t make much sense for student athletes who are already devoting a significant amount of time to their sports, Fries said.

Fries said that even with the reduction of upper division credit hours required to meet university graduation requirements, most students would still end up having 51 or more upper division credit hours because that’s what their majors require. But that’s not the case for all majors, he said.

Fries said research indicates that the more requirements placed on students in order to graduate, the less likely they are to finish. He called the items approved last Friday a good start and said he anticipates that they would go into effect next year.

Fries said he’s asked the faculty to consider other changes as well. Among the changes being considered is lowering the total number of credit hours required for graduating from 128 to 120.

The graduation requirement changes approved by the board were among many action items tackled by regents. Among other actions, regents:

• Voted unanimously to continue with Leveo Sanchez as chairman and Jesus Lopez as vice chair. They also unanimously elected Frank Marchi the board’s secretary/treasurer.

• Deleted its bachelor of science degree in mathematical modeling and bachelor of arts concentrations in certified financial planning and international business, primarily because of low enrollment.

• Suspended its MBA in government non-profit.

• Added a BA in biology, a biochemistry concentration in the chemistry BA program; an MBA concentration in marketing; and certificates in accounting, finance, human resources management and media marketing at both the graduate and undergraduate level.

The certificates are intended for people who already have a degree but would benefit from having an additional certificate.

• Named an H-Club area in the Stu Clark Building for former Highlands football and basketball coach Don Gibson

• Approved resolutions honoring contributions made to Highlands by Willie Sanchez, Alfredo “Chemo” Gallegos and Mel Root, who have recently died. Sanchez was the first Hispanic vice president at Highlands; Gallegos was head of the Upward Bound program for many years; and Root contributing to Highlands in many ways, including through the H-Club.

• Signed off on Moss Adams conducting the university’s audit for the current fiscal year.

• Approved a behavioral intervention policy, which is aimed at helping students who have raised red flags.