Highlands Embarks On Planning Initiative to Increase Enrollment

February 2, 2015

Margaret McKinney/Highlands University

Highlands provost and vice president of academic affairs Teresita Aguilar talks at the Jan. 28 kick-off event for the university’s strategic planning process. From the left are steering committee members Gene Parson, West Las Vegas Schools superintendent; Margaret Young, School of Business, Media and Technology dean; Arturo Marlow, student representative; and Juli Salman, alumni/foundation staff member.


Las Vegas, N.M. – Highlands University has embarked on a planning initiative aimed at increasing enrollment and strengthening its partnership with Las Vegas and the surrounding communities.

The first community forum for Highlands Vision 2020 – the university’s five-year strategic planning process – is Feb. 10 from 5:30 – 7 p.m. in the university’s Sala de Madrid building at 801 University Ave. (southwest corner of 8th Street and University). Free pizza and beverages will be served.

“If Highlands University thrives, so too will Las Vegas,” said Teresita Aguilar, provost and vice president of academic affairs. “As we increase enrollment at the main campus, we anticipate a significant economic boost to the community. There will also be a greater demand for more services for students.”

Aguilar, who is leading Highlands Vision 2020, said Las Vegas is a geographical gem, with phenomenal resources within a 50-mile radius.

“Our academic programs are greatly enriched by where we’re located,” Aguilar said.

“From day one we recognized the critical importance of building a stronger partnership with the community to develop this new strategic plan. We encourage the community to participate in this Feb. 10 public forum as well as upcoming forums. You can also give your input directly to the steering committee online at www.nmhu.edu/highlands2020/,” Aguilar said.

The 23-member steering committee for Highlands 2020 was formed in November 2014 to help guide the planning effort and encourage broad participation. The committee includes university and community members.

“To develop a good strategic plan is not an easy process, but it’s an absolutely essential effort, and we need your input to forge our roadmap to the future,” said Highlands University President Jim Fries. “We are living in a period of tremendous changes in higher education in New Mexico and across the nation. It’s extremely important to evaluate where we are as an institution in all the communities that are part of the Highlands family, including Las Vegas.”

Fries said the strategic planning process will take a comprehensive and inclusive look at the university’s main campus, statewide centers, online programming, and changing demographics. Forums are planned for the university’s centers around the state.

More than 300 people gathered at the Highlands Student Union Ballroom Jan. 28 to kick off Vision 2020. University faculty, staff, students, alumni, emeriti faculty, and administrators joined community leaders to brainstorm ideas for the strategic plan.

The steering committee is compiling this initial input for analysis.

“This strategic plan will not be a document that sits on a shelf,” Aguilar said. “It’s an incredible opportunity for us to collectively define the strengths, resources, people and programs at our university. We will work in an inclusive way that uses shared governance to establish institutional priorities and to consider ways to accomplish our goals for the future. This is just the beginning, and we need you to be part of the process.”

Aguilar added that action plans and initiatives will be linked directly to the priorities that are identified.

“Ultimately, we want to maximize existing resources – and attract new resources – with the goal of building a vibrant university that promotes student success,” Aguilar said.

She said the intent is to finalize the university’s strategic plan draft in late April. At that time, it will be submitted to the university’s Board of Regents for consideration.

More details about Vision 2020 are online at www.nmhu.edu/highlands2020/