The Critical First Few Weeks of a Semester

provost-dan-howardAs we complete the first full week of classes, I want to thank everyone in the NMSU system for your good work in helping students, especially first-year students, feel welcome on campus. The small kindnesses that are so characteristic of NMSU, such as offers of help and walking students to offices and classes, have been on display in abundance and make us all proud to be part of this system.

While small kindnesses mean a lot to students trying to find their way on our campuses, even more substantive are the proactive interventions of faculty members when students show signs of distress, especially early in the semester. Among the signals of distress are not logging into Canvas, not attending class, and failing to turn in homework assignments. As soon as you recognize even one of these signals, I encourage you to offer to help – reach out directly to students and let them know that you are concerned about their lack of participation.  Remember, too, that you are not alone. Do not hesitate to refer students to the QuickConnect system. All students referred will be promptly contacted by someone committed to helping them succeed at NMSU.

For those of you teaching 100- and 200-level classes, another way you can help students succeed is to schedule assignments and exams prior to the six-week mark of the semester, so that you have a meaningful measure of their performance in your class prior to the reporting of early performance grades.  The window for reporting these grades will be open from September 22 to 26.

Various measures, particularly a substantial improvement in the four-year graduation rate at NMSU over the course of the past four years, indicate that the steps taken to improve retention and student success at NMSU are having a positive impact. Congratulations to all of you for this outcome, which could not have been achieved without the commitment and good work of an extraordinary faculty and staff.

With all best wishes,

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