"The fact that there were literally over one hundred members of the campus community (students, faculty, staff, Board and friends) in attendance spoke volumes to the Committee (a number of people couldn't get into the hearing room because it was so crowded)," Chase says in and email to SFR.
Many members of that community stuck around the halls of the Roundhouse after the 6-5 vote to allow HB577 to continue on its path through the legislature, thanking everyone from Mayor Coss to Highland's University President James Fries for their support.
"The President made a very eloquent statement to the Education Committee today. This was done with the complete support of a campus advocacy committee headed by Nadine Stafford. Jim Fries comments, along with the in depth comments from Education Secretary Dasenbrock and David Abbey from the Legislative Finance Committee, did a lot to enlighten the Committee," Chase says.
The committee's four Republicans, Nora Espinoza, Jimmie C. Hall, Dianne Miller Hamilton and Dennis J Roch as well as Democrat Karen E Giannini voted against the bill, which goes in front of the majority Democratic Appropriations and Finance Committee sometime next week (currently that meeting has not yet been scheduled).
But as CSF knows from failed deals in the past, there's no counting on an outcome before it happens and Chase hopes both the CSF and the Santa Fe communities continue to fight for the college's survival saying, "What occurred today was a very effective show of force. Continuing to contact key members of the legislature to reinforce the importance of the acquisition to Santa Fe and the State is essential. There remain many people in the legislature to convince that this acquisition is appropriate and the right thing to do even in spite of the very significant budget constraints the legislature is under today."
Those budget constraints were the driving force behind the votes against the bill while the college's economic impact on the community were cited by many, including IATSE Local 480 Film and Television Technicians of New Mexico union's Jon Hendry who came to support the acquisition saying that acquisition "offers support for the arts but also supports the people who work for the school."
Currently CSF Director of Human Services Ron Ortiz Dinkel notes 168 employees (110 staff and 58 faculty), many of whom have stated to SFR that they may not be able to remain in Santa Fe or New Mexico were the school to close.
(At this morning's meeting CSF President Stuart Kirk noted that with the inclusion of adjunct faculty and part-time staff approximately 340 people are currently employed by the CSF.)
[Disclaimer: Patricia Sauthoff is an adjunct faculty member of the College of Santa Fe.]