NM Higher Education Dept. to distribute $195M for key initiatives

Stephanie Montoya
Funds will support workforce, research, and student wellbeing

The New Mexico Higher Education Department has announced that it will award a total of $195 million to New Mexico colleges and universities for key initiatives including building workforce education programs, recruiting and retaining faculty, expanding research capacity, and improving student wellbeing on college campuses.  

The funds were signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and will be distributed by the agency based upon a competitive request for application process in which colleges and universities submit proposals demonstrating need and outlining detailed plans for utilizing funds. Endowment funds awarded to select colleges and universities are invested to generate revenues year after year that fund faculty positions, support internships and residencies, and other activities to increase graduation and placement rates of students in relevant career fields. 

“Thanks to the leadership and investment of Gov. Lujan Grisham, we can build the capacity of New Mexico colleges and universities to address our most critical workforce and research needs, recruit and retain faculty, and support student success both inside and outside of the classroom,” Higher Education Secretary Stephanie M. Rodriguez said. “We look forward to seeing the proposals put forth by our colleges and universities and putting these dollars to work this year to meet the needs of diverse communities across our state.”  

The agency will award a total of $15 million to expand enrollment and graduation at nurse education programs statewide and $30 million to create endowed faculty positions, expanding the capacity of colleges and universities to train future nurses.  

“The New Mexico Nurses Association greatly appreciates Gov. Lujan Grisham, Secretary Rodriguez, and the New Mexico Legislature for their decision to invest in New Mexico's nursing workforce by providing $15 million toward expanding enrollment and graduation at our nursing education programs,” New Mexico Nurses Association Director Deborah Walker said. “By allowing our programs to increase their capacity to enroll more students, we hope to address the nursing shortage throughout the state. We know if we educate students in their own communities, we have a better chance of them working there upon graduation.” 

Nurse education programs at New Mexico colleges and universities provide students with both academic and clinical experience to prepare them for licensure to work in a variety of hospital and clinical care settings. Nurse expansion funds can be used to fund activities expanding enrollment in and graduation from nursing programs at public higher education institutions, such as developing tutoring and mentoring programs to help students pass licensure exams, recruiting high school students into programs, expanding clinical sites, and assisting students with lodging and transportation during clinical rotations.  

A total $100 million is also available to expand capacity of teacher education and social work programs to train teachers and licensed social workers to work in New Mexico public schools and other community settings. The endowment funds can be used to hire additional faculty, retain qualified faculty, and increase the number of students graduating and entering these key professions each year.  

"Every New Mexico student deserves a highly educated, highly skilled teacher at the head of the class and the social supports needed to assure their social and emotional wellbeing. This funding will help make sure we have those needed educators and social workers, and we are grateful to the Legislature and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for supporting this critical work," Public Education Secretary Kurt Steinhaus said.  

“The Behavioral Health Collaborative and its 16 member departments have been focusing on increasing New Mexico’s behavioral health professionals since 2019.  The funding that the New Mexico Higher Education Department received is an opportunity to infuse this foundational education pipeline,” said Bryce Pittinger, CEO of New Mexico’s Behavioral Health Collaborative. “The ripple effect will bolster the behavioral health system for generations to come. We need to legitimize helping professionals and pay special attention to inviting rural, tribal, and other underrepresented professionals to the field.” 

Another $5 million is also being made available via the Higher Education Endowment Fund to establish endowed chairs, lectureships, professorships, research positions, graduate assistantships, and faculty development programs aimed at enhancing the quality of public higher education in New Mexico. These funds must also address one or more of Gov. Lujan Grisham’s priority initiatives, including research and development, technology transfer, STEM initiatives, health, education, water and agriculture, and workforce development. 

New Mexico universities will receive $45 million ($20 million available in FY23) to the Technology Enhancement Fund to support innovative research and advance knowledge and production processes in the fields of agriculture, biotechnology, biomedicine, energy, materials science, microelectronics, water resources, aerospace, telecommunications, manufacturing science, and similar research areas. Funding will be awarded following rules developed by the agency to guide how funds can be spent. 

“Research is a fundamental component of our higher education institutions and the economic development it supports. Providing state funds to assist universities with meeting the matching fund requirements of research grants supports innovation and helps New Mexico diversify our economy,” said Sen. William Soules who supported the measure during the 2022 regular legislative session.