According to the presentation he gave during the president’s administrative report, UNM has made progress on 18 out of the 27 goals in the plan, and completed four of them.
“There are a couple of places where we’re struggling,” Frank said, “but by and large we’re making excellent progress.”
Frank spoke about some of the accomplishments of the last year, including a 21-percent increase in international enrollment, UNM’s participation in multi-university research collaboration and the increase in average GPA and ACT scores of incoming freshmen. By those measures, the Fall 2014 incoming freshman class is the most academically prepared in UNM’s history.
“This is the best entering class that we’ve ever had at UNM, so we’re very pleased with that,” Frank said.
He said having more prepared freshmen is beneficial, not just from an academic perspective, but from a financial one as well.
“We used to spend a great deal of money on students (who) weren’t prepared, because we would be teaching them classes that we didn’t get reimbursed for,” he said. “Now that we’re no longer spending as much money on those classes, our efficiency has gone up markedly.”
At the conclusion of Frank’s presentation, student regent Heidi Overton said a more prepared freshman class is not only good for UNM, but points to successes in the K-12 educational system in New Mexico. She added that these students will increase the retention rate, which will help offset the consequences of decreased enrollment that Frank warned about at last month’s board of regents meeting.
“As funding is now tied to performance and outcomes instead of just students enrolled, it’s okay if our numbers aren’t as high if our students are more academically prepared to be here,” Overton said. “That points to the efforts that are happening statewide in improving our education system.”
Provost Chaouki Abdallah said his office was seeing a benefit from these numbers as well: incoming freshman are less in need of extra support in academic preparedness.
Abdallah said that while these intervention methods are often expensive and intrusive, they had increased the retention rate significantly. However, he said UNM still has a lot of work to do to improve the academic performance of its students.
“We’re focusing a lot more on smaller classes and on interventions early on,” he said. “While we’re improving, we’re nowhere near where we can and should be.”
Lena Guidi is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @DailyLobo.