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Doña Ana Community College to close branch campus

LAS CRUCES — Doña Ana Community College on Monday said it plans to close a satellite campus in Hatch next month due to stagnant enrollment and budget constraints.

“The recession and resulting market declines have negatively impacted overall DACC enrollment and utilization” of the Hatch Learning Center, said DACC President Renay Scott in a statement.

The Hatch campus taught three in-house courses per semester and served 42 regular students and 16 English as a Second Language students in the recent spring semester.

New Mexico has 31 colleges and universities for a population of about 2 million. Many of those institutions have branch campuses, as well as branches of the branches — “twig” campuses called learning centers. In addition to its Hatch center, DACC operates learning centers in Sunland Park, Anthony and Chaparral.

Questions have been raised about whether such campuses are competing or cooperating with other regional public institutions of higher education.

In a news release, DACC said it tried to find ways to make the Hatch campus successful: A faculty member who is also a Hatch resident was tasked in 2014 with boosting enrollment in the small farming community north of Las Cruces. The efforts didn’t work, DACC said.

The Hatch learning center didn’t generate the resources to sustain itself.

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That reality and state funding cuts this past year led to the decision, DACC said.

Faced with shrinking state revenue, legislators voted to reduce funding to higher education in a special session last fall. In the recent legislative session, a stalemate over a $6.1 billion budget package approved by legislators and rejected by Gov. Susana Martinez prompted the governor to veto all higher education funding — a move she said was meant to bring lawmakers back to the negotiating table.

Martinez has said higher education funding will be reinstated in a special session.

According to DACC’s website, the 6,764-square-foot Hatch campus houses a computer lab, a light manufacturing lab, a computer classroom and office space. It is adjacent to Hatch Valley High School and offers dual-credit courses to HVHS students.

DACC, which is part of the New Mexico State University system, said it will use the university’s real estate arm to sell or close the building.

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