March 30 Public Forum To Explore Student Community Partnerships


Las Vegas, N.M. – A public forum March 30 will explore more opportunities for Highlands University students to contribute to the Las Vegas community.

The forum will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Charlie’s Bakery & Cafe, 713 Douglas Ave. Light refreshments will be served.

The forum is part of Highlands Vision 2020 – the university’s five-year strategic planning initiative aimed at increasing enrollment and strengthening its partnership with Las Vegas and the surrounding communities.

“While there are some very successful partnerships already in place, opportunities exist to build relevant extracurricular community service projects, class projects, and programs that could provide much needed help for local efforts, hands-on learning experiences for students, and exciting relevant programs that attract students to Highlands,” said education professor James Alarid. “Currently students in the School of Education, School of Social Work, College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Business are developing skills in areas that could directly benefit our community.”

Alarid is part of a roundtable at the forum that School of Business, Media and Technology Dean Margaret Young will facilitate. Both serve on the 23-member steering committee for Highlands Vision 2020 that is composed of university and community members.

Cindy Collins, executive director of MainStreet de Las Vegas, is also on the roundtable and will talk about how Highlands University athletes have painted the exterior of 13 buildings in the city’s historic commercial district.

“Highlands has really stepped up to help us with Façade Squad,” Collins said. “I can’t say enough good things about the student athletes and their coaches. Their work resulted in a more beautiful downtown for students, locals and visitors. It also spurred other local business owners to paint their buildings, which stimulates economic vitality.”

“We hope the community will come to this forum and participate in a lively discussion about how this mutually beneficial relationship between Highlands students and the community can be expanded,” said Elizabeth Ratzlaff, a steering committee member who helped organized the forum along with chemistry professor emeritus Robert Amai. She coordinates the university’s Achieving in Research, Math and Science program, or ARMAS.

Community members can also give their input directly to the steering committee online via the Vision 2020 website at www.nmhu.edu/highlands2020/ The website includes more information about the strategic planning process, including upcoming public forums.

Teresita Aguilar, provost and vice president for academic affairs, is leading the university’s strategic planning initiative.

“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. From day one we recognized the critical importance of building a stronger partnership with the community to develop and implement this new strategic plan. We greatly appreciate the public input to date and hope to hear more from the community.”

The university’s draft strategic plan will be finalized later this spring. At that time, it will be submitted to the university’s Board of Regents for consideration.