At Tuesday’s Board of Regents meeting, Senior Vice Provost Richard L. Wood and Associate Provost Pamela Cheek expressed concerns ahead of next year’s accreditation review.
The Higher Learning Accreditation organization will be conducting a site visit in 2018-19 to determine if UNM will keep its accreditation as a degree-granting university.
Wood primarily focused on areas in which the University could improve and announced the office’s goals for the semester. This included a commitment to reinvigorate community efforts and for students to become more involved in the Albuquerque area.
He also stated that the University must reorganize its international efforts in order to attract more students from other countries and give current students a better chance to study abroad.
In an interview with the Daily Lobo, Wood expressed which areas could potentially be an issue when the accreditation process begins.
“Funding is a worry,” Wood said. “Consistent budget cuts at the state level could potentially be a big issue.”
During the last accreditation process in 2008-09, UNM achieved accredited status but was flagged twice concerning the quality of advisement and governance.
The University responded by making drastic changes to those areas.
“Huge changes were made to advisement, and the increased quality of advisement that students received led to an increase in graduation rates,” Wood said.
Cheek’s presentation centered around the need to increase attention and funding toward general education.
“General education across the state of New Mexico (has) been leveled,” Cheek said, echoing Wood’s concerns about the lack of state funding.
She cited how high-quality general education courses lead to more students declaring a major sooner, and therefore, an increase in the graduation rate.
Cheek also emphasized how legislation makes all general education across the state equal.
She argued that future general education courses must put a greater emphasis on the University’s research capabilities, something that distinguishes UNM from other schools in the state.
As an example, she mentioned how Charles “Chuck” Paine, the associate chair of the English department, writes and publishes textbooks used in multiple courses.
“High-impact programs equal higher graduation rates,” Cheek said.
The topics below were also discussed Tuesday.
Lottery Cut Effects
Interim President Chaouki Abdallah announced the effects that cuts to the Lottery Scholarship have had on UNM this school year. Overall, 1,000 fewer scholarships were awarded, resulting in a decrease in spending by $6 million. At the last Board of Regents meeting, it was found that enrollment has decreased by 3 percent from 2016.
At the beginning of the meeting, the board stated that they were nearing the end of interviews for the new president of the University. Abdallah has been serving as interim president, following Bob Frank, who finished his fall 2016 term and decided not to seek a second term.
Interim President Abdallah spoke to the board about the state of the University’s reserves. He showed various graphs highlighting the amount of reserves,totaling around $429 million, and where that money would be allocated.
“We’re at a better stage now, but not by much,” Abdallah said, speaking on the condition of the reserve funds.
He further explained that reserves have greatly increased in the past couple of years, but that there is still work to be done.
Associated Students of the University of New Mexico President Noah Brooks announced that a bill has been passed stating that every tampon and feminine hygiene dispenser in the Student Union Building, Zimmerman Library and Johnson Recreational Facility will be stocked, maintained and readily available for all who need them.
Kyle Land is a news reporter for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Kyleoftheland.