Thanks to another half-million dollars from the U.S. Department
of Agriculture, the University of New Mexico-Gallup is another
few steps closer to offering its own distance learning classes.
school currently offers a handful of upper division courses from
its Albuquerque campus by way of three distance learning classes.
With last week's $479,000, UNM-Gallup has received approximately
$1.5 million in federal grants over the last two years to implement
a distance learning infrastructure of its own.
grants are coming from the Agriculture Department's Rural Development
Office, which earmarks federal funds specifically for helping rural
communities such as Gallup and McKinley County develop and expand
public services, from water systems to health clinics to telephone
systems, intended to promote their economic development.
grants are what are enabling us to set up the distance learning
infrastructure at the university," said UNM-Gallup Director
Beth Miller. "It's allowing us to open up McKinley County to
these new technologies."
other communities benefiting from the development office's funding,
the area's relatively decentralized residents and poverty can make
transportation to and from classes an added obstacle toward gaining
a post-secondary education. By developing distance learning classes
in Zuni, Rehoboth and out of some of McKinley County's outlying
public schools, UNM-Gallup will instead be able to bring its classes
to its students and, said Miller, become a local leader in the technology
in the process.
of Instruction Helen Zongolowicz expects to start broadcasting four
classes to the school's Zuni campus by the spring semester: one
history and tree business classes. The equipment is all ready, she
said; all they're waiting on is for local telecommunications provider
Qwest to install the lines.
estimates the initial distance learning classes in Zuni to serve
approximately 30 students. But if there's enough demand, she sees
the program expanding to other sites around the county, such as
Navajo, Smith Lake and Crownpoint.
offering students classes in their local communities, Zongolowicz
said, "think of all the time they won't have to be on the road
... and it cuts way down on expenses.
when you're trying to raise a family, every penny counts."
Grants Coordinator Robin Tice expects the school to receiving the
funds within a month.
Development Office awarded 57 distance learning grants nationwide
this year worth $23.5 million. UNM-Gallup's $479,000 was the only
grant awarded in New Mexico.