Students attend the 2019 UNM-LA New Student Orientation. Student orientation during COVID-19 was conducted online. Photo Courtesy UNM-LA
The Department of Education has awarded the University of New Mexico Los Alamos (UNM-LA) branch campus over $2.3 million in funding under the Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program to build strong STEM academic and career pathways for students and to better support their academic success. The grant will provide over $500,000 in funding each year for the next five years to address key initiatives.
The Pathways to Academic Success and Excellence (PASE) project builds on UNM-LA’s capacity to serve their students, particularly Hispanic and low-income students, and their communities in the region. Grant funding will be used to create systemic change that enhances the university’s ability to improve student success, prepare the workforce needed in the region, and improve financial sustainability.
UNM-LA Chancellor, Cynthia Rooney, Ph.D., will serve as the principal investigator (PI) for the project. “This is the first individual Department of Education Title III or Title V grant that UNM-LA has received as a stand-alone University. We have participated in the past with collaborative grants with other higher education institutions. Given the current climate of state budget cuts, pursuing external funding is essential to maintain and strengthen the quality of our programs, and to pursue new initiatives.”
Rooney emphasized that “The grant proposal was a team effort, with both faculty and staff contributing. Special recognition goes to Julie Rogers, who was hired in 2019 as a Grant Coordinator for UNM-LA, who did excellent work in collaborating with individuals across campus and constructing the proposal.”
The PASE proposal was submitted in February, prior to the many changes that have been experienced relate to the COVID-19 pandemic, yet one of the objectives of the proposal was to enhance and expand online learning. Rooney noted, “Our campus has been developing and delivering quality courses online for many years. We submitted our proposal pre-pandemic, which included a request for funds to expand our online curriculum and to provide additional training for our faculty to teach remotely. There are many innovative possibilities that we hope to explore.”
PASE funding will also be used to expand internships, research, and project-based learning opportunities with local employers, providing students with mentors and real-world skills to aid them in career advancement. Faculty and staff will have increased resources to access training on various topics related to cultural awareness, and improving student learning and student services. There is also a portion of the grant dedicated to endowment funding with a commitment by the campus to raise money to match the federal funds.
The grant term will begin on October 1, 2020.
UNM-Los Alamos is an innovative, rigorous, and affordable comprehensive branch community college that provides foundations for transfer, leading-edge career programs, and lifelong learning opportunities. More information about UNM-Los Alamos is available at losalamos.unm.edu.