Teresita Aguilar, James Fries and Pete Compos

Photo: Margaret McKinney/Highlands University
Teresita Aguilar, left, Highlands vice president of academic affairs, Jim Fries, Highlands president, and Pete Campos, Luna president, sign an agreement Aug. 11 for collaborative science education at the two schools. At the far right is Ethan Martí­nez, son of Vidal Martí­nez, Luna vice president of academics.

Las Vegas, NM — Highlands University and Luna Community College students have a clearer pathway to graduation in the sciences, thanks to a new agreement between the institutions.

On Aug. 11, Highlands and Luna signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at increasing the number of students in Northern New Mexico who complete bachelor’s degrees in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

“This agreement makes it even easier for students to transfer seamlessly from Luna to Highlands in STEM disciplines and lays the groundwork for detailed agreements that can be developed on a program-by-program basis,” said Jim Fries, Highlands president. “I’m confident this MOU will help generate the kind of student success and degree completion both institutions want.”

Highlands and Luna first signed a collaborative education agreement for science, technology, engineering and math disciplines in 2010. The agreement was successful in bringing faculty from both institutions together to discuss course content and rigor in STEM gateway courses.

The new agreement reflects current programs and new degrees at each school, such as a new conservation management degree at Highlands.

Examples of disciplines included in the agreement include biology, forestry, chemistry, geology, and computer science.

“As we move forward, this agreement — and the ones that guided us in the past — is another bridge in the educational realm being built in Las Vegas,” said Pete Campos, Luna president. “Our young people are thirsting for education. This agreement will help us reach out to them more than ever.”

At Highlands, the university’s Achieving in Research, Math and Science (ARMAS) program coordinates the agreement in partnership with Luna’s Academic Center for Excellence in STEM.