Home News Local News Regents approve tuition increases, obstacle course improvements

Regents approve tuition increases, obstacle course improvements

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The Bronco Challenge obstacle course will get three to four new “team-building” equipment pieces, after New Mexico Military Institute regents approved $190,000 for that purpose. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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New Mexico Military Institute plans to spend at least $190,000 to improve its obstacle course in the coming year.

The NMMI Board of Regents voted Thursday afternoon to approve the expenditures to purchase three to four more pieces of equipment for the Bronco Challenge training course, which fronts North Grand Avenue and is across the street from the Wool Bowl.

The obstacle course occupies about 9 acres and has been built during the past couple of years for about $60,000 plus donations of materials from businesses, including BNSF Railway and Xcel Energy. It is intended to build confidence, improve coordination and individual fitness, according to Lt. Col. Jonathan Graff, commandant of cadets and dean of students.

“As we like to say, we are a leadership institution, so for this next phase, what I would like to introduce are obstacles designed to be completed as a team, so a four-man team would be able to go through the obstacles as a team, working together, developing leadership, working on the communication and coordination as a team element.”

He added that obstacles will be unique, and Facilities Director Kent Taylor explained that they will require some measures to ensure their safety.

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“What we have done to date are some very nice elements, but low to the ground,” he said. “What you see in the packet are some elements that get the cadets off the ground quite a bit; so, with that, we saw the need that these need to be designed (by an architect) and signed off by a structural engineer to make sure they are safe for our cadets.”

Regent John Garcia encouraged the Institute to work with businesses and community organizations, allowing them to use the course for their own training needs, which, he said, might mean that they would be willing to contribute to future improvements.

“I was extremely excited and impressed with the potential of what we have here, not only for the institution but for the city of Roswell and the state itself,” he said. “There is major potential for team building, leadership development, yes, for the cadets. But there is a facility similar to this in Glorietta, and PNM (Public Service Company of New Mexico) and other organizations use it for team-building for their employees.”

Institute staff mentioned that their existing ropes course on the northwest part of Institute grounds is frequently used by other businesses and organizations and that they are open to a similar situation for the obstacle course.

The regents also voted on several other items during their meeting, including tuition and fee increases for 2020-21 academic year, which they passed unanimously.

The tuition increases are a “slight tick of an inflationary increase,” according to Col. Judy Scharmer, chief financial officer, while the fee increases are intended to cover rising costs by contractors and vendors for such items as dining services, laptops, lab supplies and uniforms.

The federal government has adopted a 1.6% cost-of-living increase for 2020 for Social Security benefit recipients and military personnel.

Tuition and fees for New Mexico residents, the New Mexico True rate, will increase $755, or 5.6%, for the year. They will go from $13,439 to $14,194. Cadets that qualify for in-state waivers — which includes children of military members or veterans, some athletes, students preparing to enter a military academy and some ROTC members — will pay $15,667, up from $14,823. That is an $844, or 5.7%, increase.

Cadets from other places in North America will see a 3.5%, or $756, increase from $21,305 to $22,061. International students will pay $1,270, or 4.7% more, from $26,959 to $28,229.

According to information presented by Scharmer, the in-state waiver costs are equivalent to or less than other military schools in other states and than many other New Mexico day schools and boarding schools.

She also said that New Mexico residents who qualify for the Knowles Legislative Scholarship and the need-based Lucky Varela Opportunity Scholarship can attend for a year for less than $100.

She added that tuition and fees amount to about $10 million, which covers only about 10% of the school’s annual operating costs. She said tuition is not used to put the cost of operations “on the backs” of students.

In answer to regents’ questions, she said that tuition and fees increased in a similar way last year, but that the school once went about three years with no tuition and fee increases during an economic downturn in New Mexico and that it decreased the New Mexico True tuition rate to $400 a few years ago, the rate it remains at for the 2020-21 academic year.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.