|May 10, 2019
I am happy to share with you some good news from today’s Regents’ meeting. In a fast-paced session with a lengthy list of actions, the Regents agreed to two changes in benefits for NMSU employees and approved NMSU LEADS 2025 as our new strategic plan.
The first change to benefits will increase the annual leave for all regular employees who earn annual leave (regular employees are those who are eligible for benefits). In 2016, a tiered system was implemented in which regular employees earned 12 days of annual leave during their first four years; employees in years 5–9 of service accrued annual leave at 17 days a year, and beyond that, employees earned 20 days of annual leave. Today, the Regents approved a simpler system in which all regular employees will earn 21 days of annual leave a year, including new regular employees, starting with their first day at NMSU. This change will go into effect on July 1, 2019.
Dr. Gena Jones, Assistant Vice President for Human Resource Services, led a nine-person task force that concluded the tiered system hurt morale and our ability to recruit new employees. The committee included representatives from Employee Council, the Union, Faculty Senate, Administration and Finance and Human Resources. Thank you to Dr. Jones and all members of this task force for your work.
The second change to benefits will reduce the amount some employees pay for insurance. NMSU subsidizes medical, life, and long-term disability insurance; currently, employees who earn less than $26,249 annually pay 20% of these premiums (NMSU pays the other 80%), employees earning $26,250–$31,499 pay 30% of the premiums, and employees earning over $31,500 pay 40% of their premiums. This payment schedule has been in place for over a decade.
Employee Council and the Union Bargaining Unit requested that NMSU reassess the contribution levels for this subsidy, and today, the Regents approved that request. NMSU will now cover 80% of insurance costs for employees earning less than $29,999, with employees paying the other 20%. Employees earning $30,000–39,999 will pay 30% of their premium costs, and those earning $40,000 or more will pay 40% of their premium costs. These new rates will go into effect on July 1, 2019 and will affect approximately 400 employees.
Employee Council Chair, Sonia A. White, participated in the task force that made the annual leave and insurance subsidy recommendations. “We felt that the annual leave benefit would help boost morale and reduce the administrative task of tracking vacation hours. We are also very grateful for the change to the insurance subsidy as this will save our employees money who are at the bottom of the compensation scale. Changes such as these will keep NMSU moving forward.”
And in their final action today, the Regents approved NMSU LEADS 2025 as our new strategic plan. It is exciting to have the official go-ahead even though we have already begun putting the plan into action, as demonstrated by today’s changes to employee benefits.
Chancellor Arvizu and I visited with more than 25 groups across the NMSU system, including all of our campuses, to hear your thoughts on the strategic plan. We saw over 1,300 of you face to face and hundreds more joined us online. Thank you to everybody who engaged in this dialog.
These visits allowed us to hear your thoughts about NMSU’s past, present, and most importantly, future. We received and incorporated hundreds of comments into the updated version of the plan, and we pledge that NMSU LEADS 2025 will be a living document refreshed through ongoing feedback from stakeholders. We will keep the plan revised as we complete some actions and others become priorities. We will also keep communicating about NMSU LEADS 2025, and in the upcoming weeks, we will update you more on your feedback and on things planned or already underway.
Finally, the last week in every semester is a time for celebration, building up to this weekend’s Commencement. Tonight and tomorrow, nearly 2,000 students will walk across the stage at the Pan American Center as Aggie graduates. There is nothing like seeing the Pan Am packed to the rafters with celebrating graduates and their families and guests! Sincere congratulations to all of our graduates, and best wishes for success.
Your feedback is always welcome at President.Floros@nmsu.edu.