The New Mexico Higher Education Department announced recently that it has awarded $110.5 million in faculty endowment funds to 13 colleges and universities across New Mexico, including $28.5 million to The University of New Mexico, to recruit and retain faculty and put other supports in place to increase the number of teachers, nurses and social workers graduating and entering the workforce in New Mexico. 

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham approved the funds earlier this year, which the agency awarded through a competitive application process to ensure the funds are put to work in the highest-need and highest-impact regions and programs. Educator preparation programs will receive a total of $50 million, with social work programs receiving another $30.5 million and nurse education programs receiving $30 million.

Overall, awarded New Mexico colleges and universities will receive funds to support 58 endowed faculty positions statewide. The funds are expected to enroll over 700 new students and support nearly 7,000 students overall in New Mexico.  

“This funding will enhance our ability to attract and keep talented faculty to grow and sustain the pipeline of licensed educators, nurses, and social workers that support the lifelong success, health and well-being of New Mexicans,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. "These are critical fields that are experiencing workforce shortages around the country, and this administration is committed to doing whatever is necessary to build up our in-state pipeline." 

“This is a clear and serious commitment to education in the state,” said UNM College of Education and Human Sciences Dean Hansel Burley. “Legislators have seen that one of the core issues in the state was the number and the quality of teachers that education programs are producing. This is a real investment in the future of education in the state of New Mexico.”

The funding breakdown at UNM includes:

Endowed Faculty in Educator Preparation

  • The University of New Mexico – Gallup branch campus will receive $2.5 million to create a tenured faculty position to grow the pipeline of trained teachers entering K-12 classrooms in the Gallup-McKinley County Schools.  
  • The University of New Mexico will receive $17 million to support eleven new endowed positions at UNM’s College of Education and Human Sciences with an emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Faculty categories include residency supervisors, K-8 reading and literacy, K-12 mathematics education, K-12 science education, bilingual education, American Indian education, special education, graduate teaching and learning as well as education leadership.  

As part of the initial proposal, Burley felt the UNM COEHS could raise first-year enrollment by 10 percent or approximately 40 students through the endowed faculty positions. This year, enrollment in the COEHS is up four percent.

“It's my hope, particularly when good news like this gets out along with the great things that we're doing, we can help turn things around in the state in a big way,” said Burley. “We're still learning about why there isn't more interest from students. There's a huge demand for teachers from school districts, but we’re still trying to figure out why there isn't more interest from students in coming into the teaching profession.

“We also need to work hand-in-hand with in-service educators, including schoolteachers and administrators. They’re a special population that can guide strong candidates to us. Also, I see community colleges as an expanding pipeline to UNM, particularly if they're coming through great institutions like CNM. We need to build stronger pipelines.”

Burley says the funds will cover about six lecturer positions and five endowed professorships. UNM currently produces about a third of the licensed educators in the state. “We want to get top scholars who are also good teachers themselves and good mentors who can teach as many students as possible. We also want to help provide the state with the necessary educators to help make a significant improvement in education in the state

The UNM College of Nursing is also receiving funds to add nursing faculty to conduct research and prepare graduate students to enter leadership and faculty roles in health care and nurse education.

Endowed Faculty in Nursing

  • The University of New Mexico – Gallup campus will receive $2.5 million for a nursing faculty position aimed at increasing the number of students enrolling, graduating, and entering the workforce in northwestern New Mexico.  
  • UNM Health Sciences will receive $6.5 million to support at additional nursing faculty, with a research focus of addressing New Mexicans’ health care needs, as well as prepare graduate students to enter faculty and leadership roles in health care and nurse education in response to the national nursing faculty shortage. The College of Nursing is home to the only nursing Ph.D. program in New Mexico and is key for producing nurse educators to serve the state’s 18 other public nursing programs.   

“We are incredibly grateful to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Secretary Rodriguez, as an endowment of this magnitude will provide a lifelong resource to all recipients of this award,” said Christine E. Kasper, dean of the College of Nursing. “We know that nursing faculty, nurse leaders and nurse scientists are imperative to addressing New Mexico’s health care needs. With the state facing a nursing shortage of more than 6,500 nurses, this funding could not have come at a better time. Adding to our outstanding faculty will ensure we can meet the needs of our communities and help shape the health of all New Mexicans.”

Faculty endowment funds awarded to select colleges and universities are invested to generate revenues year-after-year that fund faculty positions, support assistantships and residencies, as well as other activities to increase graduation and placement rates of students in relevant career fields. Endowment awards leverage funding to create an ongoing revenue stream that can be used in perpetuity to attract, retain and promote the scholarly activities of both faculty and graduate students at the College, Health Sciences and beyond.

The New Mexico Higher Education Department was established in 2005 and oversees the state’s public and Tribal colleges, universities, and special schools. It also oversees adult education and literacy programs statewide, manages state-funded financial aid programs and capital projects for higher education institutions, provides college readiness services via the GEAR UP program, and grants state authorization to private colleges operating within New Mexico.