Well, it happened again: NMSU Carlsbad held a community meeting and just about no one from the community showed up. OK, four people who aren’t NMSU Carlsbad employees came, but one was related to one of the presenters so I’m not sure he counts. As public relations coordinator, I could take the lack of attendance personally. But I won’t because I know I tried hard to spread the word about the meeting (radio PSAs, newspaper display advertising, Little Argus listings – oops, I forgot to offer food), and because I attended a public meeting in January – before I became an NMSU Carlsbad employee – and only a handful of community members came to that meeting. And there were abundant refreshments at that gathering.
The January meeting was to explain how a new emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math will bring new career opportunities to students and professionals trained in high-demand fields to the local workforce. The Sept. 1 meeting brought architects and an NMSU Las Cruces project manager to Carlsbad to provide detailed information about the new Allied Health and University Transfer Center that will be built at the college in 2010. The construction and equipping of this state-of-the-art building will be partially paid for with tax dollars – dollars residents voted to allocate to the project. Plus, the center will be the first building in Southeast New Mexico to earn special “green” certification.
Exciting stuff! The people will want to find out about it, right? Apparently not enough to get in cars or on bicycles or use their feet to come to meetings about this issues. “These people are lazy,” I thought. “They probably wouldn’t care if the college was vaporized by aliens.” Yep, I was disappointed and a bit angry at first. But after I quit biting my nails and grinding my teeth, I gave it more thought and came to a different conclusion.
I don’t think it’s because people don’t care about NMSU Carlsbad programs and initiatives. I think it’s because they are incredibly busy in the evenings with important stuff like being with their families, going to church and school, attending other important meetings and recharging at home so they can do a good job the next day – and because they trust the administrators at NMSU Carlsbad and NMSU Las Cruces to do the right thing, to make sure our programs are top-notch and our buildings are worthy of taxpayer funding. They trust that if they have a question, they can call the college and talk with someone who will give them straight answers.
That kind of trust is gratifying and weighty. As NMSU Carlsbad employees, we know we must constantly strive to deliver the best to the communities of Eddy County. The result is a big turnout. Maybe not at community meetings, but in classrooms on the Carlsbad campus and at the Artesia Vocational Training Center, and in homes where students are connected to NMSU Carlsbad Internet courses. The official numbers for the fall semester aren’t available yet, but it looks like enrollment at NMSU Carlsbad is up 10 to 12 percent from fall 2008. Fantastic! Because we want the public to be informed about all we do, we’ll continue to invite community members to meetings. I hope next time you can attend. But If I don’t see you, I won’t be too worried. I know NMSU Carlsbad has your support.
Public Relations Coordinator