Luna sees another drop in enrollment

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By David Giuliani

Luna Community College’s enrollment has dipped again, and members of the school’s Board of Trustees want to know why.

Luna had 2,113 students enrolled in the fall of 2007, but that number decreased to 1,959 last fall — a 7.3 percent drop.

The fall enrollment is critical because the state bases its funding for community colleges on such numbers.

Since 2003, Luna’s enrollment had been going up and down, reaching a high of 2,183 in 2005.

Trustee Tony Valdez said the enrollment statistics don’t look promising, especially the number of students during the fall. His concern was echoed by others.

Jonathan Ortiz, the school’s registrar, said the college needs to actively recruit and retain students — efforts that should include adequate tutoring and intervention programs.

Ortiz said he thought the declining economy meant more students would want to update their job skills, but that hasn’t been the case.

“Recruitment is not just an admissions responsibility; it’s everyone’s responsibility,” he said.

Ortiz said Luna needs to make sure it is offering majors that local students want. He noted that some majors, including nail technology (a cosmetology program), alternative and sustainable energy and equine science, have no student majors whatsoever.

“Our programs are the most important recruitment tools we have. We should have full buy-in with the community with our programs,” Ortiz said.

Trustee Abelino Montoya said the college needs to develop programs with the community’s needs at the forefront. He said he is concerned with the school’s vocational programs and that he has has contacted unions, which have expressed an interest in apprenticeship programs.

“Are we going to the schools to tell students what we have to offer?” he asked.

Mary Ward, a Luna vice president, said the college visits local schools and has high school students come to the campus to go on tours, involving department directors who are willing to participate. She added that Luna should work harder to encourage all departments to take part.

President Pete Campos said Luna needs to take a “stronger, more aggressive approach” toward recruitment.

“If we don’t provide students with what they are looking for, they’ll go elsewhere,” he said.