Since the spring of 2019, the NMSU LEADS 2025 strategic plan has successfully guided major decisions at NMSU with positive outcomes, including our response to the pandemic. This semester, we will revise some of the plan’s actions and tactics to further contribute to our strategic goals in the years ahead.
Two years ago, we completed our NMSU LEADS 2025 strategic plan and started using it to guide all major decisions. This focus helped us face the pandemic and achieve the following accomplishments during the fall semester:
- Aggies successfully created an environment in which COVID-safe practices were the norm.
- These practices and our contact-tracing efforts resulted in reduced viral transmission on campus and no documented cases of viral spread in our classrooms.
- Throughout the November surge and into December, the Doña Ana County percent positive COVID-19 rate grew to over 7%; but during that same time, the percent positive for the NMSU Las Cruces campus never exceeded 3.5%.
Examples of other positive impacts due to NMSU LEADS 2025 are summarized below.
Helping our Students Succeed: Students benefitted from NMSU LEADS 2025 efforts in ways that matter. For the 2019 class of first-year students, retention was 75.5%, which is the highest rate since at least the fall of 2004. Four- and six-year graduation rates were also at record highs of 27% and 51%, respectively. We are working to ensure that these trends continue by simplifying the curricular paths to a degree and increasing our technological capacity to understand when students need targeted assistance. This work has paid off in other areas also: Although college enrollment is down throughout New Mexico, ours has remained steady.
Assisting Faculty to Increase Research & Creativity: In the 2018-2019 academic year, NMSU implemented programs like the Principal Investigator Academy to nurture future success and created teams to facilitate research collaboration. The success of our research and creative efforts reflects these investments. Last year, the number of proposals submitted increased 17% over the past year, and the total research awards for the NMSU system increased by 16%. Our progress to Carnegie R1 status also benefited from increases in postdoctoral and non-faculty researchers and doctorates earned in the humanities and social sciences.
Engaging our communities: Aggies demonstrated their culture of service and outreach during the pandemic and made impressive, meaningful contributions to our communities. From manufacturing and distributing personal protective equipment to engaging the global community in art, we served others. The Cooperative Extension Service and Arrowhead Center used their statewide networks to assist families, businesses, agricultural producers and students. That work continues today as Extension offices provide outreach and vaccine registration assistance to communities that need it.
Realigning our Budget: Strategic plans perish without resources, which is why last fall, NMSU launched the Budget Realignment Initiative, which is charged with realigning the budget to reflect the strategic priorities of the university. The first step was to deal with last summer’s budget reduction from the state. Most colleges and non-academic units will realize their cuts by a combination of reducing operating budgets and eliminating open positions due to retirements or vacancies.
With the implementation of NMSU LEADS 2025 well underway, the next step is to ensure that the plan is still relevant and guiding us in the right direction. This semester, the goal champions will work with their teams to ensure that our actions and tactics remain relevant. The champions will also facilitate conversations across academic colleges and support units that will inform the adoption of priorities to move us closer to our goals. In May, we will include these actions, tactics and priorities in a revised NMSU LEADS 2025.
Feedback is always welcomed at President.Floros@nmsu.edu.