University of New Mexico President Garnett S. Stokes delivered her annual State of the University address to the campus community today in UNM’s SUB Ballroom. Stokes, who is beginning her seventh year as UNM’s president, opened her address titled, 'Each of Us Defines All of Us: An Inspired Identity,' by talking about everything the Lobo community has witnessed over the past six years and how the campus community has emerged stronger.

“We have witnessed sea changes in the ways we learn and work—from remote academic and business operations to navigating the power of Artificial Intelligence, or AI. All in a climate that sometimes seems to challenge our very humanity,” she said. “What I do know is that we are always stronger together, even if we don’t always see eye to eye.”

Stokes discussed several key areas during the 50-minute address, including an inspired identity. “It is essential for us to reflect on the significance of our identity, both internally and externally. Our identity is not merely a label or a logo; it is the embodiment of our values, aspirations, and collective mission. Internally, our identity serves as a unifying force that brings us together under a common purpose. Our identity fosters a sense of belonging and pride among each of us—and all of us—inspiring us to strive for excellence in everything we do.

Stokes recalled her interview at UNM in 2017. “I was truly enthused by the phrase ‘Each of Us Defines All of Us.’ I thought, ‘what a great tagline.’ What I quickly learned, though, is that it’s not really a tagline but a calling for Lobos. It embodies who we are, what we do, and why it matters.

“Our actions as individuals reflect on us as a pack, and what we do as a pack affects us as individuals. The beauty of this is that it allows each of us to express ourselves as remarkable, curious and diverse individuals who also belong to a strong community of scholars, creators, thinkers and competitors. It is a simple, consistent and authentic way of stating that UNM is the sum of its people and its parts. Everyone who loves this place—and anyone who calls themselves a Lobo—contributes to the UNM story.”

Stokes transitioned from UNM’s identity to taking the lead and making a future for New Mexico by touching on the power and growth of AI or Artificial Intelligence. Led by Dean Leo, dean of College of University Libraries and Learning Sciences, UNM is one of only 18 institutions taking part in a two-year study to unlock the potential of AI to advance higher education.

In addition to the pioneering work of AI, UNM is also at the forefront in the development of Quantum Information Science and Engineering, partnering with Sandia National Laboratories to launch UNM’s 11th research center, the Quantum New Mexico Institute.

“UNM is also working hand-in-hand with the national laboratories to develop next-generation nuclear micro-reactors, thanks to two grants from the U.S. Department of Energy,” Stokes said. “Together, we’re making New Mexico a destination for quantum companies, nuclear technologies, and scientists around the world.”

Moving on to more innovation and Grand Challenges, Stokes highlighted the incredible success of UNM’s first Grand Challenges – Sustainable Water Resources, Substance Use Disorders, and Successful Aging. “Six years on, we’ve turned our initial investment of $2.1 million into more than $50 million in grants and awards,” she said. UNM recently expanded its Grand Challenges to include three new Level 2 teams: Sustainable Space Research, Child Health, and Just Transition to Green Energy.

Speaking of growth, Stokes also discussed continued enrollment growth with increases across every class level and on nearly every campus, noting that the Fall 2023 first-year class was the largest in school history and one of the most diverse, with more than 70 percent of new students coming from under-represented populations.

Along with continued growth comes increased student support in the form of a dynamic multi-year project called CHILE—or Coordinated Help in Lobo Experience. CHILE is a portal that provides students with a guided and interactive pathway through UNM, with quick access to all sorts of help.

“It provides a dashboard customized for students based on their interests, preferences and needs, that puts them in touch with the appropriate staff and faculty who can guide them toward their degrees and provide them with regular just-in-time information,” Stokes said.

Stokes also mentioned UNM’s branch campuses, their strengths and how they are rooted in diverse regions and communities throughout the state. “These campuses not only enrich us with their history and vibrancy, but they embody our commitment to educational excellence and a more prosperous state.”

Other programs that meet the needs of the state include the District Partner Teacher Residency Program, an effort by UNM’s College of Education & Human Sciences that provides a new and quicker route to the classroom for aspiring teachers who already have a degree in another field. Speaking of the classroom, Stokes also mentioned UNM’s leadership in the field of open education—promoting the use of resources that are free of legal barriers for use in the digital classroom. UNM received major funding from the U.S. Department of Education to create the New Mexico Open Resources Consortium.

Overall, Stokes noted significant highlights, including faculty, student, HSC and brick-and-mortar accomplishments. Below are several notable among many:

  • Nine winners of our Women in STEM Award.
  • Six faculty members were elevated to the elite ranks of UNM’s Distinguished Professors.
  • Lectures from recipients of two of the highest honors faculty can receive, the Annual Research Lecture and the Community Engaged Research Lecture Awards.
  • Two of our architecture professors received prestigious fellowships from the American Academy in Rome.
  • Two Goldwater Scholars and three Fulbright Scholars.
  • A Truman Scholar and a Udall Scholar.
  • Physics & Astronomy students constructed antennas at the third Long Wavelength Array, just north of the Very Large Array.
  • A team of UNM Anderson undergraduate students took first place and a $5,000 cash prize in the national collegiate marketing competition, in which they researched and developed a multi-platform campaign.
  • A doctoral student in the Department of Physics & Astronomy has been awarded a student exchange scholarship through the U.S. Department of Energy and Italy’s National Institute of Nuclear Physics, one of only 11 recipients nationally in 2023.
  • NM-INSPIRES Center, which supports environmental health issues, received $5.1 million from the National Institutes of Health for increased research capacity.
  • Secured federal funding for our FOCUS program to increase services and access for families with children with developmental delays. It is our privilege to serve this vulnerable population.
  • Several new associate and assistant deans at the College of Population Health as it continues to expand on its way to becoming the state’s only accredited School of Public Health.
  • Expansion of support for transgender patients, working under new protections enacted by New Mexico state law to bring much-needed services to remote, rural, and underserved areas.
  • The College of Nursing and Public Health Excellence Building is getting closer to reality, with approximately 90% of the building completed. This project will be finished this summer.
  • Work continues on the Critical Care Tower, as the final touches on the new adult emergency department bring us one more step toward completion next spring.
  • Dedication of a new facility to house all our ROTC programs under one roof in a fully renovated and refurbished building.

Stoke closed out the address by summarizing the remarkable achievements of the campus community through its commitment to serve.

“It is clear that our commitment to serving the public good is the cornerstone of our success,” Stokes said. “From groundbreaking research that addresses pressing societal challenges to innovative educational initiatives that empower individuals and communities, UNM continues to lead the way in making a tangible difference in the lives of others.”