Julia M. Dendinger | News-Bulletin photo
Dr. Samuel Dosumu began serving as chancellor at the University of New Mexico-Valencia campus in August.
TOME — During lunch, Samuel Dosumu likes to walk around the county’s only higher education campus and clear his head. As the new chancellor at the University of New Mexico-Valencia campus, Dosumu is getting the lay of the land — literally and figuratively.
“I like the layout of the campus. I like the way the buildings feed into each other,” said Dosumu, who took the position of chancellor at the beginning of August. “Outside of the physical pieces, the internal pieces — the people, which are the most important — have been very welcoming. I have found them to be really ready for something new. I’m in a place where I can bring in my experience and say, ‘Where do you want to go next?’”
Dosumu takes the helm at UNM-Valencia after Alice Letteney’s 27 years of leadership. The new chancellor says Letteney grew the college from an infant to an adult.
“My goal right now is going to that next level. Taking the foundation that she built and build on that,” he said.
To build for the future and plan next steps, Dosumu is holding listening sessions with students, faculty and staff. His primary questions are what they want to see, what they feel is missing from the UNM-Valencia experience.
“Hopefully in the spring, I can share that across campus. To say, ‘Here’s my charted course for the next few years,’” he said. “The provosts expect strategic planning, so that fits right into this.”
One long-standing program Dosumu wants to continue to grow is concurrent enrollment, which allows high schools students to earn both high school and college credits at the same time.
Even as he was working on his graduate degree, Dosumu said he was interested in the transition from high school to college.
“I learned along the way that a lot of classes students take in high school, they’re not necessarily going to get them into college, so there’s this gap,” he said.
The question of how are colleges helping students continue in college became a passion for Dosumu, which has led him to wanting to ensure students aren’t just taking college courses but courses that will help them graduate and succeed after high school.
“In this day and age of workforce development, workforce skill building, how many students have picked up a skill while they were in high school that leads to an industry certification so they can go out and go to work? How do we play into that? You know, it’s not just offering classes. To me it’s what’s at the end. What’s that pathway? What do they get at the end? How do we make concurrent enrollment more intentional?”
Dosumu sees his and the campus’ role as building a pipeline for high school students to complete certification and degree work, and for adults who possibly left college without credentials to come back and finish what they started.
In addition to traditional degrees, Dosumu said he sees a need for career technical educational opportunities, such as training in logistics and transportation, earning a commercial driver’s license, construction and trades.
“I’m also looking at small businesses, helping people learn how to not only start a business, but manage it, make it profitable and go beyond just the fun of starting it,” he said. “I really want to collect data from (local high schools) to see where they are pushing their kids to make sure we’re there to receive those kids in those fields and get them to the next phase in their lives.”
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.