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Back in the 1980s, when the late Bill Witter was starting the public Santa Fe Community College from scratch, he couldn't have guessed that, someday, the private four-year College of Santa Fe History
The oldest chartered college in the State of New Mexico, the College of Santa Fe was founded in the Lasallian tradition of education, a Roman Catholic teaching order in which the schools are run by laymen. The institution's first incarnation opened in 1859, as St.
 campus might be one his school could share. So the indefatigable Dr. Witter went about building one impressive building after another out in the scrublands south of I-25, prevailing on property-taxpayers to approve a series of bond issues to pay for all that construction.

And while the two-year community college grew and thrived, the Christian Brothers school south of St. Michael's Drive progressed in fits and starts while its finances fell apart.

But the College of Santa Fe at least was able to offer its students bachelor's degrees and a certain amount of postgraduate work, which some junior-college grads pursued at the mid-town CSF Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) Analysis Definition

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis is a laboratory test to examine a sample of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
; many others had to commute to The University of New Mexico The University of New Mexico (UNM) is a public university in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was founded in 1889. It also offers multiple bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and professional degree programs in all areas of the arts, sciences, and engineering.  in Albuquerque or New Mexico Highlands at Las Vegas -- or face the greater cost of living in Las Cruces or Socorro while finishing up their degrees at New Mexico State or New Mexico Tech.

So, through the years, there've been off-and-on efforts to land a four-year public college in Santa Fe. Most recently, Espanola used its legislative connections to expand Northern New Mexico College Northern New Mexico College, formerly known as Northern New Mexico Community College, is a two-year and four-year degree garnting institution with campuses in EspaƱola and El Rito, New Mexico. It is known as NNMC, or more familiarly, simply as Northern.  into a baccalaureate-degree institution, shortening the drive time for prospective students from our community -- but that hasn't kept Santa Fe educators from pressing for a four-year public college here.

Trouble is, there are already seven such schools in our sparsely populated and impoverished state -- so New Mexico's more fiscally conservative senators and representatives have resisted the pressure.

But with the demise of the College of Santa Fe as we knew it, and the city's purchase of the campus now run by the private company Laureate Education, community-college president Sheila Ortego and her board are hoping for a piece of the CSF action:

Last week, she proposed a property-tax increase, and a $35 million bond issue, to build a "higher-learning center" on the south end of the CSF campus -- creating something of a "one-stop educational center" from which students could emerge with bachelor's degrees.

To what extent SFCC SFCC Santa Fe Community College (New Mexico)
SFCC Spokane Falls Community College
SFCC State Fair Community College (Sedalia, MO)
SFCC South Florida Community College (Avon Park, FL) 
 and CSF would complement each other hasn't been fully developed -- but there's a precedent of sorts not far up the road: In downtown Denver, the University of Colorado University of Colorado may refer to:
  • University of Colorado at Boulder (flagship campus)
  • University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
  • University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center
  • University of Colorado system
, the local community college and Metropolitan State College share the "Auraria Campus" -- and its library, computer center and a student union.

Might Ortego's proposal be the beginning of something similar here -- maybe with course offerings from UNM, Tech and New Mexico State? Or would it take a city of Denver's size to sustain such an institution -- and do our area's dire finances doom the prospects for the foreseeable future? As for state legislators supporting an eighth public-supported four-year college, they're facing a billion-dollar deficit -- so they're hardly in the mood ...

And county voters? C'mon.

Maybe there are ways the two schools can advance on previous cooperative efforts from where they sit today -- but a new community-college campus? That's asking too much of our long-supportive community.
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Title Annotation:Editorials
Publication:The Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM)
Date:Nov 17, 2009

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