Post-Thanksgiving Thanks

provost-dan-howardWith its focus on family, fellowship, and food, Thanksgiving is, for many of us, our favorite holiday of the year. An unpretentious holiday, it quietly opens the holiday season, and provides university communities with a much-needed break before the sprint to the end of the fall semester. The uncharacteristic quiet of NMSU during the week of Thanksgiving offered some of us time to walk the campus, appreciate its beauty, and spend time reflecting and planning.

For me, my reflections centered on the previous week and the visit of the Higher Learning Commission Review Team. We had spent four years preparing for this visit—identifying areas of concern that needed to be addressed prior to the visit, assembling writing teams, and honing our Assurance Argument to ensure that it was thorough and fairly represented New Mexico State University. The attention to detail, both in the Assurance Argument and in making sure that the review team felt welcomed and had full access to people and information, was clearly appreciated. In the exit interview, the review team leader, Dr. Patricia Dolly of Oakland University, praised NMSU for the quality of the Assurance Argument, for the wonderful hospitality, and for the spirit of commitment and cooperation that is evident in our staff and faculty.

It is too soon for celebration—the written report of the review team has not yet been shared with NMSU. But, it is not too soon to thank the people who worked so hard to prepare NMSU for this visit. First, thanks to Dr. Shelly Stovall, our Executive Director of Accreditation, who took the lead in planning for the visit, led our Quality Initiative, kept the writing teams on schedule, worked with the Faculty Senate on critical academic policy changes, and gracefully incorporated edits and comments from the university community into the final drafts of the Assurance Argument. Shelly had outstanding support from Laura Grant, Nicole Waltermire, Jessica Greenamyer, Kristen Andrews, Adam Cavotta, Gabrielle Martinez, and Samantha Rich.

Another important figure in our reaffirmation of accreditation effort was Dr. David Smith, our Director of the Office of Assessment. Working closely with academic departments across campus, David helped departments understand the value of learning assessment, provided important feedback on assessment reports, and revamped our Academic Program Review process and policies. His commitment to improving our academic programs served us well during the reaffirmation of the accreditation review process and will continue to serve us well moving forward.

The Assurance Argument writing teams were, of course, central to our reaffirmation of accreditation efforts. I am grateful to all of the team members, but especially to the team leaders: Dr. Kevin Boberg, Dr. Luis Vazquez, Dr. David Smith, Dr. Kathy Brook, Ms. D’Anne Stuart, and Dr. Bernadette Montoya.

Finally, thanks to everyone in the university community who provided public comments, met with the HLC review team, or attended a public forum. Your participation provided the review team with insights into NMSU that can only be gleaned from individuals actively engaged with the university and its mission.

With all best wishes,


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