U.S. Sen. Heinrich Visits Campus

Sen. Heinrich and Dr. Fries

Photo: Margaret McKinney/Highlands University
Highlands University President Jim Fries talks with New Mexico U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich during the freshman senator’s April 2 outreach visit to campus.

Las Vegas, N.M. — New Mexico U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich visited New Mexico Highlands April 2 as part of an outreach program the freshman senator is conducting throughout the state.

Heinrich met with Highlands President Jim Fries and other university representatives such as Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Linda LaGrange.

“Being at Highlands today helps us understand the strengths of the university, like the innovative hydrazine remediation technology it developed,” Heinrich said. “A major goal for me was to get a sense of where we can partner and move forward, including helping the university navigate the federal bureaucracy.”

Heinrich added that Highlands is an important historic campus in New Mexico.

“I’m very pleased that Senator Heinrich was able to visit the campus and discuss serious issues and opportunities at the university,” Fries said. “It also gave us the chance to highlight some of the university’s strengths across disciplines, ranging from its science research initiatives to its strong School of Social Work.”

Some of the discussion items included the possible impacts to the university from the federal sequester budget cuts process; the university’s patents for groundbreaking hydrazine remediation technology; federal funding reductions for the New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute housed at Highlands; and potential federal historic preservation grant funding for the university’s historic Trolley Building, which will be restored with state general obligation bonds and other state funding. It will become the new home for the university’s Media Arts Program.

Highlands University chemist Rudy Martinez of Highlands Stable Isotopes, Inc., owned by Highlands, talked about the prospects for the university’s cutting-edge hydrazine remediation technology.

The new environmentally friendly hydrazine remediation technology has major implications for NASA, the U.S. Air Force, and the many private sector industries ­– from nuclear energy to pharmaceuticals and agriculture — that use hydrazine.

Andrew Egan, director of the New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute, also presented at the meeting and led a tour of the institute.

Heinrich, a former New Mexico congressman who represented the 1st District, won his Senate seat in the November 2012 general election. He was sworn in as the state’s new U.S. senator in January, filling the senate seat vacated by longtime U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, who retired.

Heinrich’s congressional committee assignments include the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources, U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee.