New Mexico State University’s School of Social Work has been awarded $16.5 million in state funding to create six new endowed faculty positions that will help increase the number of social workers in the state.
Earlier this year, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law the 2023 state budget that included $50 million to endow social work faculty positions at universities across the state. The New Mexico Higher Education Department awarded the faculty endowments in August, following a competitive application process.
The NMSU School of Social Work was one of three academic departments/schools in the College of Health, Education and Social Transformation that received a combined $25 million in endowments from the state Legislature to create new faculty positions in social work, teacher preparation and nursing. Doña Ana Community College also received $2.5 million for its nursing program.
“Such state investments are a testimony for our commitment to the diversification of a high-demand relevant workforce in response to the shortages of social workers, nurses and teachers in New Mexico, and NMSU and other higher education institutions are accountable to address this need through partnerships with the other sectors,” said Yoshi Iwasaki, inaugural dean of the College of HEST.
Héctor Luis Díaz, director of the NMSU School of Social Work, said the state has a goal of funding 25 new faculty positions in social work throughout New Mexico, with the expectation that those new faculty positions will generate an additional 500 graduates per year.
“I was pleasantly surprised because there are four schools of social work in New Mexico, and we received our entire request,” Díaz said.
On average, the NMSU School of Social Work currently graduates about 120 students every year. With six new faculty members, Díaz said, the school will be able to graduate 240 students annually over time. The additional faculty will also allow the school to admit more students into high-demand programs, like the online master’s program.
“We usually have 50 to 60 students waiting to be admitted in that program,” Díaz said. “Once all our new faculty members are in place, we will be able to admit more students into that program and others. That means more students will be able to earn social work degrees in New Mexico.”
Díaz said two new faculty members will start next fall, while the remaining will begin the following year.
The NMSU School of Social Work currently offers two programs at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. For more information about the school, visit https://socialwork.nmsu.edu/students/home.html.