SANTA FE – Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday announced the introduction of legislation to create four Centers of Excellence at New Mexico higher education institutions. House Bill 7, introduced by Reps. Tomás Salazar and Micaela Cadena, would support and drive innovation in growing economic sectors and build closer links between research and industry by designating each as a Center of Excellence in a particular field.
“Centers of Excellence will put New Mexico on the map worldwide and show we’re serious about the growth of research and development in key industries,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “These hubs of innovation will foster global collaboration and attract talented researchers and students to our state.”
“Creating Centers of Excellence in New Mexico is a step in the right direction for higher education in our state,” said Rep. Tomás E. Salazar (D- Las Vegas). “As a lifelong educator, I understand how important it is to have the support of your higher education institution to move the needle forward in specialized areas. These Centers of Excellence will allow our students the opportunity to look at the frontiers of these specialized fields and move forward in that direction. I am honored to partner with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham in bringing Centers of Excellence to the University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University, and New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.”
"Together we are leveraging the strengths of our higher education institutions to invest in New Mexico's future and prepare our workforce for new, cutting-edge fields. I am honored to work with Governor Lujan Grisham to create these Centers of Excellence that will push the potential of communities across New Mexico and highlight the innovations coming from our great state. These Centers will contribute to local economic development and help with job creation in communities where we need it most,” said Rep. Micaela Lara Cadena (D-Mesilla).
HB 7 creates Centers of Excellence for cybersecurity at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology; sustainable agriculture at New Mexico State University; sustainable and renewable energy industries at San Juan College; and bioscience at the University of New Mexico in the Health Sciences Center. The Centers of Excellence would be charged with collaborating across public and private entities to innovate in job creation and business development.
“The Center of Excellence will serve as a catalyst for cybersecurity and data science research, education and workforce development in New Mexico by bringing together the brightest minds from academia, government and the private sector,” said New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology President Dr. Stephen Wells. “The Center will help New Mexico attract cybersecurity businesses and federal operations to claim a larger portion of the projected $156B global cybersecurity market.”
“Sustainable agriculture is at the core of NMSU’s identity,” said New Mexico State University Chancellor Dan Arvizu. “A new Center of Excellence focused on sustainable agriculture will allow us to build on our current work supporting innovations that create value-added alternatives and improving profitability while protecting our state’s land and water. This Center at NMSU will link with other Centers of Excellence to bring agriculture in New Mexico to new heights of productivity by implementing new technological advances at the farm and ranch level benefitting the health of New Mexicans and the global population.”
“We are honored that San Juan College was selected as a Center of Excellence in sustainable and renewable energy based upon our previous work that has occurred with our energy partners,” said San Juan College President Toni Pendergrass. “We look forward to fostering innovation, growth, and the use of new technologies with the energy industry in New Mexico.”
“Bioscience is an exciting and growing industry,” said University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes. “As a collaborative of state government, research institutions, national laboratories, and private industry, the University of New Mexico is well-positioned to develop and promote innovation in bioscience, stimulate investment, and expand the number of related companies in New Mexico. A Center of Excellence in biosciences would also offer the distinctive exploratory opportunities for our students who are pursuing careers in these disciplines.”
The governor’s executive budget recommendation allocates $2 million for the Higher Education Department to develop the Centers of Excellence. The Centers of Excellence would also be empowered to seek additional public and private funding.