Activity Report for Week of January 3 – January 13

  • At the Administrative Council meeting on January 10, I presented an overview of our Higher Learning Commission accreditation, and the importance of being present during the team visit on November 13, 14, and 15. During the presentation, I went over the five criteria that must be met by NMSU, assumed practices, and federal compliance. One of the most common concerns voiced by visiting teams centers on criteria 4 and the failure of an institution of higher education to demonstrate a strong program of learning assessment and a commitment to continuous improvement in teaching and learning. Another common concern is associated with criterion 5; namely, that financial weakness threatens the ability of an institution to fulfill its mission and respond to future challenges and opportunities.  NMSU should not have a problem in either area.  Learning assessment is firmly entrenched at NMSU and faculty members are using assessments to inform curricular changes.  Moreover, NMSU is financially stable, due in no small part to the emphasis placed by the Chancellor on recognizing and responding to fiscal realities.
  • At the Faculty Senate meeting on January 12, I discussed the move toward centralized advising at NMSU, reassuring the senate that the change is not intended to remove faculty from the critical role they play in mentoring students, but to relieve them of the burden of trying to help students understand the rules and regulations of the university, state, and federal government. Moreover, NMSU is about to implement a new predictive analytics tool (CRM Advise) that will update student profiles on a daily basis, and provide alerts to advisors when students are not attending class, performing poorly in class, signing up for a class that is not part of their degree plan, struggling to pay university bills, etc.  Advisors will be trained in the monitoring and use of this system (which will be time-consuming) and will be expected to intervene right away when a student shows signs of distress.  I do not believe that it is in the best interests of our faculty to spend time learning how to operate the system, monitoring students, and intervening on a continuous basis.  I would leave these activities to well-trained advisors, and encourage our faculty to concentrate on research and teaching.
  • At the Faculty Senate meeting, I also discussed the Transforming NMSU process and the formation of a Team 6 as part of this process to evaluate the administrative structures of our academic units. Among the issues that will be addressed by the team are stipends for department heads; summer salaries for department heads; and, the minimum size of a department.

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