After the Welcome – Time to Help our Students

Last week, we welcomed students back to campus and celebrated the start of a new academic year. On Tuesday, we welcomed all new faculty who joined NMSU this year, the largest class in recent history.  In the blink of an eye, it will be late September and time to post early performance grades in 100- and 200- level classes. The weeks between now and then are a critical time of transition, and every person on campus has the opportunity and responsibility to make a difference in the success of our students.

NMSU LEADS 2025 includes “Student-Centered” in our values, and defines it as “Supporting the education of our students through every aspect of our community, every day.” Because we are a Land-Grant and Hispanic-Serving Institution, we are an important access point to higher education for students who reflect our state demographics, including students who are the first in their family to attend college, or are from low-income households, or are from minorities underrepresented in higher education. We have always sought to serve these students well, and now we have incorporated that aspiration in the NMSU vision: By 2025, the NMSU system will excel in student success and social mobilityfor our diverse student populations, achieve the highest Carnegie research status (R1), and maintain our Carnegie Community Engagement classification.

At Convocation last week, Provost Parker listed reasons why education is so important to our students: on average, college graduates earn $30,000 more annually than a person with only a high school diploma, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  That’s more than $1,000,000 for an average career span.  An earlier study of the Millennial generation by the Pew Research Center found that compared to peers with less education, college graduates had higher rates of employment and were less likely to live below the poverty level. Millennials with a college education are more likely to have the education and training needed to advance in their careers.
NMSU is nationally recognized through ratings by organizations such as the Brookings Institution and CollegeNET for graduating students at rates higher than similar institutions, but we aspire to be among the best. So how can we all improve success for all of our students?

  • Faculty can create an inclusive and supportive classroom: in a thoughtful response to a President’s Communication from June, Professor Michèle Shuster shared excellent resources on promoting inclusion and engagement and equity in the classroom.
  • All of us can help students navigate the university environment: In the communication from the item above, Dr. Renay Scott reminded us that when we adapt our practices to support first-generation students, we support all students. See also Dr. Scott’s presentation about Understanding Social Mobility and First Generation Students.
  • And finally, re-examine our practices and those of our offices and make necessary changes in light of the following questions: How can we support the education of our students every day? How can we remove barriers to graduation? How can we support the educational environment at NMSU? During the Academic Administrator Workshops this past summer, President Floros encouraged everybody to make changes and improvements with a quote from Maya Angelou: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.”

This fall, we begin implementing the strategic plan NMSU LEADS 2025, and every unit at NMSU needs to consider how they contribute to NMSU’s goals and vision. At an institutional level, we will establish our baseline for metrics against which we will measure progress toward our vision and goals. This baseline will be presented during the State of the University address on Monday, Oct. 14, at 3 p.m. Additional details will be available soon.

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John Floros, Ph.D.

Carol Parker, J.D.

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