Las Vegas, New Mexico – A lifelong learning program at New Mexico Highlands kicks off a new year with a slate of faculty presentations designed to engage the university’s staff.
Denise Montoya, Highlands University’s human resources/payroll director, coordinates the HU: Learning Happens Here program in partnership with Sam Minner, Highlands’ president. The program begins its third year spring semester 2019.
‘This program highlights our passionate and talented faculty at Highlands with the professors enthusiastic about sharing their expertise and research,” Montoya said. “The staff participants are excited to learn more about a wide range of interesting topics. Another benefit of the program is that it allows participants to get to know faculty and their interests better.”
Montoya said in the first two years of the HU: Learning Happens Here program, the lunchtime sessions filled so quickly each month that sometimes participants who didn’t get an opportunity to attend requested to be on a waitlist for a second faculty presentation on the same topic.
“The feedback that we receive from participants is very positive. Surveys after the sessions consistently provide an overall rating of excellent with participants saying they’d recommend the program to their colleagues,” said Montoya, who earned her Ph.D. in organization, information and learning sciences from the University of New Mexico.
The program includes monthly talks by Highlands faculty for staff with an open discussion to delve further into the topics. The spring semester lineup for HU: Learning Happens Here includes:
Jan. 15: “Why Diversity Matters at HU,” – Rebecca Maldonado, social work professor and chair of Highlands’ Diversity Advisory Council; Eric Romero, languages and culture professor and vice chair, Diversity Advisory Council; and Ron Martínez, community member, Diversity Advisory Council.
Feb. 12: “Consejos y Comida: Working Alongside Latino Communities Through Culturally Responsive Research Methods” – Jason Aleman, social work professor.
March 5: “Research on Indians and Spanish in Venezuela” – Peter Linder, history professor.
April 10: “We Are Living Her Dreams: The Sun Dance Religious Movement on the Navajo Nation” – Orit Tamir, cultural anthropology professor.
May 14: “When Professors Came First: A History of the NMHU Course Catalog from President Hewett to President Eyring” – Juan Gallegos, Department of English professor.
“Our January topic of ‘Why Diversity Matters at HU’ is important as we continue to explore ways to enrich student, faculty and staff learning that fosters appreciation for our differences and unites us in our similarities,” Montoya said.
Montoya said she works closely with the Highlands faculty senate to encourage faculty participation in HU: Learning Happens Here.
“The response from faculty has been overwhelming, resulting in a waitlist of faculty presenters,” Montoya said.
Highlands President Sam Minner launched HU: Learning Happens Here spring semester 2017.
“One of the great advantages of working at a university is being around smart people who are interested in their own intellectual development,” Minner said. “The primary purpose of HU: Learning Happens Here is to signal that it’s important for every person at the university, no matter what their job, to continue to grow.”
Montoya said: “Dr. Minner serves as an advocate and role model in cultivating a culture of excellence through learning. The HU Learning Happens Here program is just one of several examples that demonstrate his leadership in this regard.”
The Highlands President’s Office sponsors each of the HU: Learning Happens Here sessions, providing brownbag lunches for the university participants.