This week, university leadership updated the community on the NMSU LEADS 2025 strategic plan. In a year interrupted by urgent concerns, it is understandable that the strategic plan has not received headlines. Nevertheless, the Goal Teams have worked hard throughout the year, and led us closer to achieving our vision. Here is a recap.
Student enrollment: The big news for enrollment is that we continue to hold steady, despite pandemic-related challenges. This is something that few universities can say. Robust enrollment is key to the success of NMSU LEADS 2025: Increases will provide much of the funding needed for strategic investments.
Student Success: The metrics show that NMSU has improved student retention rates, decreased the achievement gap between Pell Grant recipients and non-recipients, an important social mobility indicator, and increased our six-year graduation rates. The bottom line is that more of our students are able to stay enrolled and achieve their educational goals at NMSU.
Academic Excellence: Through a university-wide collaboration among colleges and service units, many people have worked tirelessly to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our academic process and systems. We have increased our access to data and are now engaged in analyzing and reviewing that data to understand next steps. This work will continue to influence retention and graduation rates, and the quality of service to our students.
Research Expenditures and Move to R1: Due to increases in research expenditures and in other metrics that contribute to the R1 designation, we improved our R1 outlook compared to 2018. If we continue this progress, by 2025 we will have an excellent chance at reclaiming our place as one of the elite research universities in the nation.
Outreach and Extension: The good work completed by our efforts in Outreach and Extension has positively affected every corner of New Mexico this year, and we are making progress on how to measure those effects. This goal expanded recently and now includes the NMSU Foundation and Aggie Athletics, in addition to Arrowhead Center, Cooperative Extension, and a complex mix of efforts from virtually every academic college and every arm of the university. Future work in this area will include efforts on economic development and performance metrics that apply across this broad area.
Faculty Compensation: We have made some progress, but have fallen behind our goal of a 20% increase in faculty compensation by 2025. However, the goal remains achievable, and continues to be important for retaining our talented and dedicated faculty members.
Employee Satisfaction: With our current data based on a single survey in 2019, this category rates as uncertain. However, we continue to work to understand the employee climate better through additional surveys. Look for such a survey to come in your email next week.
Robust University: Many efforts underway are focusing on improving the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of our processes. Examples include the pandemic response, faculty and staff hiring, space utilization, renovation and construction, information technology, data management and many others. One highlight from this week was Wednesday’s announcement that Dr. Linda Scholz will join NMSU as our first vice president for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity.
Overall: We can all be proud of the significant positive progress we’ve made. The secret to this progress was simple: As we struggled with the pandemic and other crises, NMSU LEADS 2025 was there to guide us on how to move forward. This focus has directed our efforts in a way that benefited NMSU faculty and staff, but most of all our students. I thank every one of you for helping NMSU reach a better place than where we were a few years ago, and I know I can count on your help as we face future challenges.
Worth a view: We received many accolades for a video that debuted at the Annual Update. It tells the story Scott Komar, a mechanical and aerospace engineering student from Jal, New Mexico, who has realized his dreams of studying rocketry at NMSU. It is a beautiful video and an inspiring story of how one Aggie is shaping his future.
I hope you will join me for the next town hall at 3 p.m. April 27. This one will feature a COVID-19 update and a special segment on the budget. Join us via Zoom or Panopto, and submit questions in advance here.
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