Bringing NMSU’s vision into focus

By 2025, the NMSU system will excel in student success and social mobility for our diverse student populations, achieve the highest Carnegie research status (R1), and maintain our Carnegie Community Engagement classification.

Land-Grant Universities were created to educate the population. My last communication focused on how students and their success are the heart of the land-grant mission. Research at a land-grant university is the spark that keeps the heart of that mission strong and vital. No single goal of NMSU LEADS 2025 is superior to another, but contained in the deceptively simple Goal 2: Elevate Research and Creativity is a web of connections that is critical to the success of our students (Goal 1), the health of our communities and the strength of our local and state economy (Goal 3), and the robustness of our university (Goal 4).

The Morrill Act of 1862, enacted during a time of great civil strife in this country, created universities dedicated to reaching people previously excluded from higher education. Later amendments expanded the Morrill Act to include Historically Black Colleges and Universities (1890) and Tribal Colleges (1994), and today there are over 110 universities that bear this designation. The original 1862 land-grant designation applies to 55 of these universities, including NMSU.

With research being central to the mission of a land-grant university, it should not be a surprise that of these original 55 universities, 40 (73%) have the highest Carnegie research status of R1, indicating “Doctoral Universities — Very High Research Activity.” Land-grant universities were created to provide a rounded education, and specifically to teach the “agricultural and mechanical arts.” The hands-on education typically used in these disciplines fosters relationships with private- and government-sector interests seeking research partners among highly qualified faculty. A thriving research enterprise means that faculty are creating – and teaching – emerging knowledge in their fields, and these faculty, in turn, have access to students wanting to push those boundaries of learning and creativity ever further.

This self-sustaining pattern benefits students, faculty, communities, and industry. It also benefits the regional and state population through outreach and economic development. There are other benefits. Students are more attracted to, retained at higher rates at, and graduate faster from R1 universities, which also tend to have more comprehensive and better educational programs. These universities have historically become better resourced.

NMSU was formerly among the R1 universities, and the vision of NMSU LEADS 2025 is to rejoin this elite group. Achieving R1 will affirm the value of the creative and research endeavors that are an essential component of the education we offer to our students. NMSU could and should be one of the best Land-grant, Hispanic-Serving and Minority-Serving institutions in the country. That is exactly our aspiration.

When NMSU achieves R1 is less important than our continued progress in that direction. Even if we don’t achieve the R1 status by 2025, we will be a better university for taking that path.

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