Activity Report for week of February 21 – February 27

Power of Not Yet

On Monday afternoon, I met with the “Power of Not Yet” group, an Advisory Council led by Dr. Rudolfo Chavez Chavez that has been working with my office on diversity and inclusion issues at New Mexico State University. We began the meeting by going over progress that had been made on recommendations of the group in 2015. Notable achievements include student coaches in the form of the student success navigators, training for department heads in building inclusive departmental communities, orientation for new faculty members that includes a description and discussion of our students and their backgrounds, and reporting of mid-semester grades for 100 and 200 level courses. The group then went on to discuss the establishment of an Office of Diversity and Inclusion at NMSU. The meeting ended with a discussion of diversity and inclusion themes and a request that each member of the group identify one or more themes on which to focus their attention over the course of the next six months to a year.

Discover Sustainability Symposium

On Tuesday afternoon, I had the pleasure of giving a brief presentation at the Discover Sustainability Symposium organized by joni newcomer. New Mexico State University has made significant strides in becoming a green university due to the efforts of people such as joni, Glen Haubold, and David Boje, and the passion for sustainability was evident in the packed Yates Auditorium. Congratulations to the speakers – Dr. Mary Lucero, Ms. Claire Catlett, Dr. Lisa Grayshield, and Dr. David Boje, all of whom gave marvelous presentations.

Closing the Achievement Gap

On Wednesday, I met with a group of NMSU faculty and staff, as well as representatives from NGAGE New Mexico to discuss an initiative to close the achievement gap in southern New Mexico, as well as at NMSU. The group was encouraged to be ambitious in their goals as we seek funding from the Kellogg Foundation and from NSF, which recently announced a new initiative (INCLUDES) designed to enhance the preparation of students, from groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields, for careers in science and engineering.

Arts and Sciences Department Heads Meeting

On Friday afternoon, I met for an hour with the department heads of the College of Arts and Sciences to answer questions and discuss the future of the college. In a far-ranging discussion we touched on budget concerns in the coming year, funding for summer courses, support for graduate students, health insurance payments for international students, the need for additional faculty lines, the importance of working across departmental and college lines to address complex research questions, and adjusting the increases in pay associated with promotion to associate and full professor. During the course of the discussion, I noted my strong support for the liberal arts teaching mission of the college and for the interim dean, Dr. Enrico Pontelli, who will be encouraged to be more than a caretaker and to undertake initiatives that advance the college and its mission.

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