Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Grizzle discusses NMMI recruitment with legislators
New Mexico Military Institute cadets perform better with in-person instruction, the Institute’s president told lawmakers, and the school is moving forward with its plans to hold classes face-to-face for the most part for the spring 2020 semester.
Maj. Gen. Jerry Grizzle, president and superintendent of the Institute, talked with state legislators Tuesday during an online Legislative Finance Committee meeting.
In separate action, the NMMI Board of Regents decided Wednesday to hold early negotiations for Grizzle’s contract, voting to extend it for three years.
Recruitment strong, concerns over athletics
“I think there is no question that the in-classroom education that we are providing is a better educational alternative than a remote education that was the only alternative they had to finish the semester last year,” Grizzle said during the Legislative Finance Committee meeting, which included discussions about the budgets of specialty schools and higher education.
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Grizzle provided information that showed that NMMI cadets, overall, experienced slightly lower grade point averages during the spring 2020 semester, when state public health orders required all schools to be closed to in-person instruction. For fall 2020, when cadets were allowed back on campus, or Post, GPAs rose again.
Grizzle also said that he thinks that being able to offer face-to-face instruction is helping the school with its recruitment efforts.
He said the number of mid-term entry applications accepted, at 75, and pending, at 118, are above normal levels. The school had 826 cadets enrolled in fall 2020.
“We are still receiving tremendous interest, and I believe, in all honesty, one of the reasons we are getting that interest is that we are continuing to provide in-classroom education and students are coming here to participate in that,” Grizzle said.
The school has posted its spring 2020 return-to-school plan. That includes having cadets come to Post in four different groups, testing all cadets and quarantining them until negative tests are returned. Those who test positive or show symptoms will be isolated for a minimum of 10 days, and those that come in close contact with a person who has tested positive will be quarantined for a minimum of 14 days. Testing of all employees in contact with cadets also will occur.
Cadets also are required to remain on Post except for medical needs or a few other exceptions, and the campus will be closed for the most part to the public.
According to Grizzle, NMMI has spent $403,000 for COVID-related prevention measures, about half of which was reimbursed by federal programs.
Grizzle did express concerns about whether collegiate sports will be allowed in the coming semester.
While few junior colleges were able to offer collegiate sports in fall 2020, he said, many outside New Mexico could be doing so for the spring 2021 semester. If NMMI is unable to offer that, Grizzle said, potential cadet recruits could “stay home and go to a local community college instead of coming here.”
He also explained to legislators that NMMI receives about $2.8 million a year from the New Mexico Legislature, $1.3 million for cadet scholarships and the remainder for instruction, academic support, student services and related expenses. The scholarships enable many more New Mexico students to attend than otherwise would be possible, he said.
NMMI also relies heavily on the New Mexico Land Grant Permanent Fund, which provides 61% of its annual operating budget. That fund is administered by the New Mexico State Land Office and comes from royalties and other payments made for leases of state lands. About 25% of NMMI’s operational budget comes from tuition and fees.
The NMMI Board of Regents met remotely Wednesday and voted on Grizzle’s contract for another three years, from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2024.
“His performance is outstanding,” said Col. Timothy Paul, board chairman.
Grizzle joined the Institute in July 2009. His 2018 contract was not due to expire until June 2021, but Paul said that the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 led the board to earlier negotiations to assure internal and external groups that the Institute is functioning well and supports Grizzle’s leadership.
“We are going to open and we are continuing to teach and educate tomorrow’s leaders,” he said. “There is no shaking in the foundation.”
Paul also said that board wanted to evaluate the “lessons learned” not only from the school’s handling of the COVID-19 situation — which included a two-week period this fall when most cadets were quarantined in their barracks after a COVID outbreak — but also from the recent junior college reaccreditation.
“While that went really well,” Paul said, “it did indicate some areas to consider for the future and in our strategic planning.”
Grizzle said the contract term was what he requested.
“I am very excited to be here another three years,” Grizzle said. “I specifically asked for the three years to be able to complete four major projects.”
He said those projects are a 10-year strategic plan for 2030, the high school reaccreditation in 2023, the implementation of an associate’s degree in leadership development and the adoption of a formal dual-degree program to enable cadets to graduate from high school and junior college at the same time.
Paul said that the demand for the dual-degree program is increasing significantly, with seven cadets pursuing that this year, which is prompting the need to create a more integrated high school-junior college program for those interested in that option. He also said the board wants the Institute to consider online degree programs for former NMMI cadets who were unable to complete their degrees.
Grizzle said that pay and benefits remain the same under the new contract, except that an annual retention bonus has been changed to a performance bonus based on the school’s annual strategic assessment.
According to a July 2017 employment agreement, Grizzle receives a $200,000 annual salary, health benefits, retirement funds and the annual bonus.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at email@example.com.