The new executive director of the University of New Mexico Gallup hit the ground running when he arrived this summer and is already a hit with the campus and community. A native of the southwest and a veteran of cross-cultural programming, assessment and economic development, Dr. Christopher Dyer is bringing new life to UNM’s western branch. President Robert G. Frank visited the campus recently to hear about Dr. Dyer’s plans and to officially welcome him to the University.

“Dr. Dyer has a vitality, an energy and a positive influence that is already making a difference at UNM Gallup,” Frank said. “He has really struck a cord with this community.”

During his trip to UNM-G, President Frank met with staff, faculty, students, and local lawmakers along with the advisory board and community members. “People were delighted to interact with him first hand.  There were no significant challenges noted that we weren’t already aware of,” Dyer said. “The number one issue was to increase student success including enrollment, retention and graduation.”

In forums and meetings throughout the day, discussions focused on topics such as maintaining Internet connectivity, providing affordable day care and addressing the difficulty of traveling long distances to attend class.  Dyer noted, “The need for student housing came up repeatedly, and a committee of community advisors has been formed to work on this with us.  We will engage UNM’s main campus in all aspects of student housing and master planning.”

Along with campus and community members, a number of UNM alums turned out for the evening reception to officially welcome the new executive director.  “It is remarkable how quickly Dr. Dyer got involved in this community and began addressing the issues that are of upmost importance to Gallup, such as workforce solutions and job training,” Frank said.

While in the area, President Frank also visited the nearby pueblo of Zuni, where the University is working to enhance educational opportunities from elementary school through college. Bruce Klewer, Operations Manager at the Zuni site, talked about ways to grow the partnership with UNM. “In Zuni we are looking to expand collaborative efforts with the Pueblo through programs in arts, fine furniture making, agriculture, horticulture and related topics of interest to the Zuni Council and the community.”

Frank toured the elementary and high school at Zuni and spent time observing a class where students were learning their native language along with English skills.  He also talked with a teacher’s aide who is attending classes at the Gallup campus to become a full time teacher. 

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation recently awarded UNM a nearly $600,000 grant to work with the Zuni Public School District to support teacher preparation. The project, titled, “Zuni: Engaging Teachers and Community” focuses on the continuing education, professional development and recruitment of teachers in Zuni to provide an academically rich and culturally responsive education for the pueblo’s children.