Fall 2015 Convocation
Convocation on Tuesday provided an opportunity for the President to focus on some of the good news at NMSU and for me to remind everyone of the importance of retention and helping our students be successful at NMSU. An important new initiative this year is our student success navigators, who are working closely with first year students, and laying the groundwork for their success, by helping them understand the importance of class attendance, good note taking, and taking advantage of the many resources on campus designed to help students learn, including faculty office hours. Faculty members at NMSU, of course, have always played the central role in student success through their efforts in and out of the classroom, and we will continue to depend on the dedication of our faculty as the most important component of student success at NMSU.
An area of special focus this year, especially with first year students, is class attendance, and we are depending on faculty members to alert us, through the QuickConnect system, if students miss two or more classes in the first four weeks of the semester. All referrals to the QuickConnect system will receive a response, but I expect the response to referrals of first year students to be especially aggressive, because student success navigators will be involved in the response. Of course, faculty members are welcome to address attendance and performance issues with their students directly, but it is good to know that help is available.
Changes at NMSU
Later on Tuesday, I spent some time at the Business School convocation, where I discussed our new Faculty Care Leave, graduate student health insurance, the new 120 credit policy, and other matters. With regard to the 120 credit policy, at their July meeting, the Regents approved reducing the minimum number of credit hours necessary to receive an NMSU undergraduate degree from 128 to 120. Currently, the process for changing credit hour requirement is quite cumbersome, but a proposed revision to Section 6.82 of the Policy Manual would considerably streamline the process. Because the front end of both the current and new processes are the same, I encourage departments that would like to move to 120 credits, to go ahead immediately with reviews of their degree programs and recommendations for changes, including the reduction in credit hours. Under the revised policy, the recommendations need to be approved by the department head and transmitted to the Office of the Dean for final approval. Under the current policy, changes in academic programs require several layers of approval above the Dean. It is likely that these layers will be removed soon.
Land Grant University Demographics
At the end of the week, Dr. Laura Gutierrez Spencer and I teamed up to provide new faculty members with some insights into land-grant universities and the students who attend them. Dr. Spencer did a marvelous job of describing the diversity of our students and tactics for engaging all of them. At the end of the session, I described the Student Success Navigator Program and was gratified by the response from our new faculty members who indicated a strong willingness to be active partners in aggressive interventions.