NMSU Issues & Analysis

Take Action: Adjuncts and the ACA

posted Aug 28, 2013, 9:18 AM by Academics United

Although the  policy changes of the ACA for universities have been delayed a year, but NMSU has chosen to reduce adjunct workloads anyway.   

Academics United is collaborating with AAUP to document NMSU policies and practices related to the ACA.  If you have any emails or other policies that have been shared within your department/program/college regarding the adjunct reduction in course load, please share. The information collected will be used to report an aggregate of practices from across the university to AAUP.  

For more information on the implementation of the ACA on campuses across the country, check out these articles: 

Wondering what difference collective bargaining might make for adjunct faculty workloads, security and benefits?   Some examples: 

  • At California State University, the negotiated contract provides that after 6 consecutive years in the same department/program, employees are given a three-year appointment-with no special review required. After 6 years of service, part-time and full-time lecturers are given continuing appointments that are subject to recall rights in case of a layoff. Evaluation is required once during the 3 years. Additionally, preference for work is based on seniority. 
  • At Kent State University, the Collective Bargaining Agreement also establishes three-year term appointments:
    • "... a member of the bargaining unit who has successfully completed three (3) consecutive years of employment and one (1) Full Performance Review becomes eligible for appointment to a three-year term of annually renewable appointments which are conditional from year to year only upon continued satisfaction with demonstrated performance, continued programmatic and staffing need within the academic unit, and continued budgetary resources supporting the position.
    • "Upon completion of a three-year term of annually renewable appointments, a member of the bargaining unit becomes eligible for consideration for another three-year term of annually renewable appointments based upon successful completion of a performance review; favorable assessment of service and contributions during the most recent three-year term; and anticipated continuation of programmatic and staffing needs and of budgetary resources sufficient to support the position. (Section 6-7. Pg. 25-26)

Read more about the role a collective bargaining agreement can play for adjunct faculty here.   

ACA and Adjunct Faculty

posted Aug 28, 2013, 8:59 AM by Academics United

By Kathy Roark-Diehl; Professor, English, NMSU Alamogordo

Recently some adjunct faculty I know and have worked with over several years are highly distressed because their courses are being "reassigned."  They are asking about performance evaluation and asking "What have I done wrong?" and "Who have I pissed off?"

A partial answer to the distress is not that any one is angry, or even displeased with adjunct performance.  However, their questions raise new questions:  What is NMSU's policy for part-time faculty performance evaluation? And, what is the policy for hiring part time faculty based on upcoming mandates set by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)?

According to Sara Hebel from The Chronicle of Higher Education, most colleges are "expecting their expenses to rise after new federal requirements" begin.  The formula for determining the number of hours an adjunct works is, no doubt, tricky.  Converting credit units to "actual hours worked" has given most universities a headache.  There is no doubt that our human resources department is tangled up in a good deal of red tape, and no doubt that major changes like those expected by the ACA won't go smoothly.

In no way do I wish to debate the merits or the problems with the ACA.  Nor do I want to debate what constitutes an "actual hour worked."  I do, however, want to ask why faculty have not been part of the discussion on adjunct faculty status, why there has been no announcement of a formalized policy for changing the allowable credit hours an individual adjunct can teach, and why has there been no transparency in how NMSU is currently adapting its policies to meet the expectations of the ACA?

Fewer full time faculty lines are being created.  NMSU has become increasingly dependent upon adjunct faculty to meet enrollment demands.  Overwhelming amounts of research link higher numbers of adjunct faculty to lower retention rates.   Increasing the number of adjunct faculty in such a way that insures more individuals will have classes, bur fewer individuals will have solid, dependable blocks of classes only increases the difficulty of maintaining quality in the classroom.  This is bad for students, bad for adjunct faculty, complicates the role for full time faculty assigned to mentor adjunct faculty, and is simply bad for NMSU.

A change as sweeping as the ACA will radically affect the teaching landscape of NMSU, and could be especially problematic at the community colleges.  Why have faculty, and particularly adjunct faculty, been left out of any conversation concerning the best way to manage this change?  Any policy that changes the teaching mission of a university should be brought to the faculty for discussion.  To date no discussion has come to Faculty Senate or to the faculty in general.  We have not even had the courtesy of an explanation of how HR and our new President intend to manage adjunct faculty hires and reassignments. 

It is time to have a faculty-driven conversation about how NMSU might hire and support adjunct faculty equitably.  Why not develop a new policy on hiring adjuncts that includes some form of performance-based evaluation-and then offer health care to our long-standing, excellent adjunct faculty?  Why not develop a way to see who needs health insurance from the ranks of our adjuncts, since many are retirees or spouses who procure health insurance by other means? Why not offer health insurance to our adjunct faculty simply because it is the right thing to do?

Let us work together to honor the invaluable work of our adjunct colleagues through fair and consistent performance evaluations and a negotiated contract that values their ongoing contributions. 

Are you a faculty member who has faced a reduction in hours attributed to the ACA?  We'd like to hear from you.  

Market-based Salary Raises: What about Justice-based Raises?

posted Aug 16, 2013, 2:48 PM by Academics United

The NMSU administration has announced the allocation of $1.6M to raise the salaries of selected tenure-track and tenured faculty "closer to market salaries."  Any kind of raise is welcome, but the way these raises are to be implemented is discriminatory and can't help but be divisive.
There are three major problems with these announced raises:
  • First, the administration dismisses the significant loss of buying power of the salaries of all faculty and middle and lower rank employees over the last 6 years, despite the 2010 Christmas bonus and the minuscule increase last year. While faculty salaries have stagnated, both benefit contributions and the cost of living have increased, e.g., in Las Cruces food costs 5% more than the national average. Yet administration is proposing to raise the compensation of only half the faculty and those increases will vary from person to person. What reason can there be for not giving a decent increase to all faculty when 99% of faculty salaries are below the market value of comparative peer institutions?
  • Second, administration has charged the Deans with selecting which faculty members will receive raises. Some deans have announced criteria for selection while others have not, but the mere fact that only about half the faculty will be selected is manifestly unfair, and the possibility that these raises could be misused for rewarding some faculty while punishing dissenters sets an unnecessary and dangerous precedent.
  • Third, using the so-called "market value' framework for the raises is a dubious strategy. What assurance do we have that those who set the market value as a standard understand the value of education and the nature of our profession? Education is not a mechanistic industrial process but a human system for the fulfillment of individual potential and common civic good.  Education and market processes are two very different systems with unique goals, mechanisms, ethics, and values. Conceptualizing education as a market or industrial system does irresponsible disservice to students and degrades the teaching profession.
According to current market values, those whose fields of knowledge and practice are devoted to public service, i.e., to protecting and enhancing the public good, such as education and social work, receive the lowest value, and these faculty are paid the lowest salaries, often with higher teaching loads and larger class sizes. Thus, utilizing market value to create education policy hurts education and is unjust because it widens inequality.
The takeover of education discourse by market values and criteria has proven to be a wrong turn. A historical analysis shows the systematic decline of public higher education through a series of "reforms" that have been implemented using market practices, ethics, and criteria over the last three decades. These reforms are defunding public higher education; increasing college tuition beyond the increase in cost of living and inflation; forcing students' to carry large debts; decreasing appointment of tenure track faculty while increasing the number of non-tenure track contingent faculty; and causing massive increase of administrative personnel and cost in contrast to the budget for instruction. Some sources for this data, among others, are the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Education, and the American Association of University Professors.
Three years ago Professor Howard Bunsis, a nationally recognized expert in university budgets and accounting systems analysis, presented a thorough analysis of the NMSU budget, which showed us that we don't have a financial problem as such; we have problems with priorities, lack of transparency, and shared governance.
We urge all our colleagues in the NMSU system to move beyond indifference and cynicism to seriously consider becoming part of Academics United of NMSU and participate in working together toward collective bargaining. An employment contract will give us a legal framework to take part in fundamental decisions on labor conditions and other issues concerning the direction of the University for serving the people of New Mexico. Collective bargaining will be a powerful step toward defending public higher education as a public good. We have an ethical and moral obligation to defend public education and make our working conditions fairer, more democratic, diverse, and sustainable for future generations of students and scholars as well as for all university employees. 
This is our struggle: defending and improving public higher education at NMSU through negotiated labor peace.

Memorial Day Picnic

posted May 21, 2013, 10:03 AM by Academics United

Meet and Greet at Preciado Park, Memorial Day (May 27) 1:00-4:00PM

You are cordially invited, with kids, pets and others, to a pot luck picnic with NMSU faculty and supporters. Tofu hot dogs while they last!


Faculty Response to Cheney Letter

posted May 21, 2013, 10:02 AM by Academics United   [ updated May 21, 2013, 1:33 PM ]

Colleagues: 
On May 9th, NMSU Regent Mike Cheney wrote a letter (since reprinted in the local press) to students, staff, and faculty espousing the importance of football and downplaying other concerns of the faculty. 

A group of NMSU faculty wrote a response and circulated it. If you were busy/out of town when it was circulated (it was exam week, after all) and didn't see the response to his letter, please take a look now (also found at the bottom of the page.) 
 
If you agree with the response, it's not too late to add your name to the list of faculty supporters, by email.  
 
View the list here
 
When we read regent Cheney's letter-sent as grades were due and colleagues unavailable-we put together this response, sticking to clear issues that affect all of us. We must have gotten some things right, because the response has been strong. Over 100 faculty endorsed this statement in the first 36 hours and gave permission to have their names listed.
 
Understandably, others have expressed support but asked that their names not be made public.
 
Please let us know what you think, whether you agree or not.
 
Many colleagues who replied mentioned other topics that need discussion. If you have concerns or data about issues that affect faculty, please share them, if possible with details and sources.
 
The discussion of how NMSU will address long-standing problems, especially under a new administration, is just getting started. Faculty input is crucial, and will be considered by the administration if we insist on our right to shared governance.
 
Sincerely,
Jamie Bronstein, History, NMSU
Joan Crowley, Criminal Justice, NMSU
Stephen DeGiulio, Adult Basic Education, DACC
Gary Roemer, Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Ecology, NMSU

Nursing Program Woes

posted Apr 24, 2013, 9:58 AM by Academics United

Recent news stories in the Alamogordo News have highlighted the issues plaguing NMSU's branch campus nursing programs, in particular faculty departures and a lack of administrative support.  Read more about it here

Survey Report

posted Dec 12, 2012, 12:22 PM by Academics United   [ updated Dec 13, 2012, 9:00 AM ]

In November 2012, faculty took the time to complete a survey, and AUNM thanks you.  We've been compiling and analyzing the 257 total responses.  You can read the full report  (PDF) below, but here are a few summary points:
  • 93% of faculty respondents agreed that communication about important issues on campus keeps them in the dark or without enough information to participate
  • 75% of respondents rated "Competitive Salaries and Compensation" as extremely important
  • 73% of respondents rated "Transparency in Decision Making" as extremely important
  • 73% of respondents stated they would give a vote of no confidence to the Board of Regents
  • Only 8% believe that waiting for a new president is the best solution to NMSU's current problems, while 61% would like to work through faculty senates/councils/associations for solutions
  • 48% of respondents identified shared governance as a critical opportunity for participation
  • Among respondents from Doña Ana Community College, 73% would give their campus President a vote of no confidence. 
After reading all of the responses, one thing becomes very clear: faculty want to participate in making NMSU the best it can be. 

Cross-tabulations showed that there were only minor differences between the faculty on main campus and the faculty at Doña Ana Community College.

 

Background

In response to the concerns of the university community about the turmoil in the administration following the loss of accreditation of the DACC Nursing program and the abrupt departure of Dr. Couture, members of the steering committee of Academics United started hearing talk about having a no-confidence vote for the upper administration and the board of regents.  We decided to develop a survey that would allow faculty members to express their ideas about the campus climate at NMSU. 

Our plan now is not only to share that information with you, but to act on it.  Academics United of New Mexico is a group of NMSU faculty members  who have decided to take on the establishment, the powers that be, as it were.  Those powers include the board of regents, the university administration, the state legislature, and--as one faculty respondent pointed out--ourselves.  He or she said, “We should realize that by simply being "satisfied" with status quo we risk intellectual stagnation.”  Such stagnation undermines our ability to educate our students.  “When we do not have the will to fight, our students don't learn how to make a difference in the community.”  

There were a few comments critiquing our organization and the survey itself.  We accept the critiques- and will keep those comments in mind going forward. (See all of the open-ended responses in the full results Appendix A at the end of the document.)

Methods and Survey Distribution

The survey was distributed via SurveyMonkey (www.surveymonkey.com) to 1646 faculty on November 1st, closed on November 7th with 257 full or partial responses (more on specific response rates in the “Results” section). SurveyMonkey was programmed to distribute an individual email link to each faculty member through the Email Invitation Collector to assure anonymous and unique responses. 

The full, formatted survey is attached.  We gathered information about the campuses represented, and job titles, to put the results in context.  The substantive questions assessed respondent views of faculty morale within their departments.  Academics United has developed four goals, and we asked respondents to prioritize those goals from not at all important to extremely important.  We also provided a space for people to identify other areas of concern.  The key questions related to the mission of the survey asked about perceptions of the adequacy of communication between the faculty and the administration, whether they would vote no confidence in upper administration, and their views on how faculty can best participate in solving the problems here at NMSU.  The actual questions are in the appendix. 

 

Discussion and Analysis

Overall trends/themes

The response frequencies are shown in Appendix B.  Since the survey was voluntary, we do not know how representative the sample is of the entire faculty.  Presumably, the people who chose to respond are interested in the issues, and have the time to spend a few minutes answering questions.  The results must be interpreted with caution.  Nevertheless, we believe that the results give us some measure of faculty sentiment. 

The 257 respondents represent all levels of faculty, from adjunct instructors to department heads.  Almost half identified themselves as being at the rank of associate or higher. Fifteen respondents are department heads.  Most of the respondents (72%) are from main campus, as expected.  The Community Colleges are represented roughly proportionate to their sizes, with 47 (18%) from DACC and 21 (8%) from Alamogordo.  There were 4 respondents each from Grants and Carlsbad.

The tables in Appendix B show the frequency distributions for the questions for the entire sample.  Usually, people are pretty satisfied with their work, so ratings of the workplace tend to be on the positive side of the scale.  The ratings of departmental morale show a low average, with one in five reporting faculty morale as very low, compared to 1 in 12 who report high morale.  The mean score was 2.7, which is below the midpoint of 3.0.  It is possible that people unhappy with their situations were more likely to answer the survey, but this still shows a great deal of discontent among faculty.

Of the issues listed in the survey, diversity was the lowest priority.  Competitive salaries and transparency in decision making were both listed as extremely important by almost three out of four respondents.  We asked about other issues, and we got 100 responses.  There was no single issue that emerged.  Several people mentioned issues with leadership.  Another repeated theme had to do with commitment to teaching and the learning environment.  Due process and fairness issues also received multiple mentions.

The results for the question on communication from NMSU administration were clear.  Two out of five faculty felt that they were in the dark.  Only 3% felt fully informed and able to participate in major campus decisions. 

The question on the vote of no confidence should have been restructured slightly, since there was no permanent president on main campus.  Half of the respondents expressed no confidence in the provost, and the board of regents got no confidence votes from 67%.  In response to the opportunity to identify others for no confidence, deans were most commonly mentioned.  The president of DACC was mentioned several times; presumably these mentions were from other campuses, since DACC faculty could vote in the original question.

Finally, in terms of what faculty should do to participate in solving problems, most faculty on both campuses mentioned the existing faculty bodies, faculty senate and faculty council.  Only a very few wanted to wait and see what happens with the new president. 

Differences between main campus and DACC

Because of the limits of Survey Monkey, it was not possible to combine categories for cross tabulations.  There were enough respondents from DACC to make a reasonable comparison with main campus, and comparisons are available via email.  We could also not run significance tests.  The results highlighted below are those where there were the largest differences between the groups.

DACC respondents were more likely than Main campus respondents to rate diversity as extremely important.  Forty-five percent of DACC faculty rated commitment to diversity as extremely important, compared to 36 percent of Main campus.

A large majority of all respondents rated transparency in decision making as extremely important, but DACC respondents were especially likely to endorse this position (79.5% compared to 70.7% of Main campus).  Main campus folks were more likely to say that they feel in the dark (46.6% compared to 31.8%).  DACC respondents were more likely to say they have some communication, but not enough. 

There are substantial differences in no confidence ratings.  Given that Couture left just as the survey was being distributed, it’s interesting that 30% of Main Campus Respondents would still vote no confidence.  Almost three quarters of the DACC respondents would vote no confidence in Huerta.  Main campus is more directly affected by the decisions of the Provost, which would explain why Main campus respondents were more likely than DACC respondents to vote no confidence in Wilkins.  The biggest difference is in the votes for the Board of Regents.  A little over half of DACC, but almost three-quarters of Main campus respondents would vote no confidence in the Board of Regents.

Conclusions

First, we thank all the faculty members who took the time to reply.  The results confirm our original impressions.  Faculty morale is low and there is a general concern with salaries and transparency.  The Board of Regents has lost the confidence of the faculty in light of their recent actions. 

Results Tables.

1.  Full sample.

Results of the Survey
Responses by Campus (Multiple responses possible)

 

Total

NMSU-Alamogordo

NMSU-Carlsbad

NMSU-Doña Ana

NMSU-Grants

NMSU-Las Cruces

Number

257

21 (8.2%)

4 (1.6%)

47 (18.3%)

4 (1.6%)

185 (72%)

 

Responses by Title (Multiple responses possible)

 

Total

College Instructor

College Assistant Professor

College Associate Professor

College Professor

Instructor

Assistant Professor

Associate Professor

Professor

Extension Faculty

Department Head

Other

Number

257

17 (6.6%)

32 (12.5%)

3 (1.2%)

10 (3.9%)

15 (5.8%)

43 (16.7%)

48 (18.7%)

55 (21.4%)

5 (1.9%)

15 (5.8)

14 (5.4%)

 

Question 3: . What is the state of faculty morale in your department (on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being highest)?

1
 (Very low morale)

2

3

4

5
(Best morale)

Rating Average

Response Count

19.8% (46)

22.4% (52)

29.7% (69)

20.7% (48)

7.3% (17)

2.73

232

 

Question 4: Below are some issues that have been considered important for university faculty. Please indicate how important each of these issues is to you personally.

 

0 (Not at all important)

1

2

3 (Extremely Important)

Commitment to Diversity

10.8% (25)

19.8% (46)

31.0% (72

38.4% (89)

Competitive Salaries and Compensation (Pay Equity)

0.4% (1)

3.0% (7)

21.8% (51)

74.8% (175)

Shared Governance and Responsibility

1.7% (4)

8.6% (20)

 

31.0% (72)

 

58.6% (136)

Transparency in Decision Making

0.4% (1)

2.6% (6)

23.7% (55)

73.3% (170)

 

Question 5: Is there another issue that you think is important for the university to address? If so, please describe it below.

(100 text responses, exactly as input, some individual responses may be represented by more than one bullet)

·         Focus on student needs.

·         Lack of leadership and vision from President and Provost's offices

·         "The DACC president needs to be dismissed due to loss of nursing program accreditation and failure to follow hiring and promotion politics of DACC.

·         The NMSU provost needs to be dismissed for the same reasons as well as low morale among faculty and staff, the deans' unanimous vote of no confidence some time ago, and diverting salary savings away from various academic departments and centers of professional staff on campus to a ""provost fund."""

·         micro-management

·         Department Heads are suffering. We have too much work and are teaching as well. We need to have less reports and more ability to actually lead our faculty.

·         More emphasis on "teaching/learning" at the community colleges since this is the primary purpose of 2-year colleges. Faculty who excel at teaching should be better acknowledged and rewarded at the 2-year institutions.

·         Focus on outcomes with little or no attention to the allocation of resources, including time and healthy learning and working conditions

·         Improved faculty benefits (retirement and medical), plus it would be nice if faculty could receive a little appreciation to at least attend some games for free or exercise for free. Faculty need improved health promotion or outlets to deal with stress.

·         Accountability of administrators

·         Equity policies are of great concern, especially since the current administration is advocating market based salaries and merit based raises.

·         No

·         Role of and profound need for support of college of arts and sciences as college that serves all students on campus.

·         "1) Burdensome, bloated stupid, and pointless outcomes assessment process 2) Burdensome, bloated, stupid, degrading, and pointless annual review process. 3) Upper administrator salaries ridiculously high."

·         The revolving door of top administrators.  The corruption of paying a football coach more than professors.

·         Arbitrary treatment of non-tenure faculty.

·         The fundamental problem is the failure to concentrate on the educational mission of the university, not on its athletics.  Related to this is the control over the academic budget by the VP for Finance, which has been going on since I came here.

·         Academic programs, freedom of creation there of, needed lines to help with academic mission, class sizes.....

·         High faculty and administration salaries contributing to high student tuition.  Tenured faculty who should have never been tenured in the first place hurting students.

·         The pay for support staff needs to be higher. I couldn't do research without my field support staff and entry level for two positions I have is between $7.65 and $8.05 per hour. They take care of crop research plots, irrigation systems, and do basic plumbing and carpentry; importantly, they assist in carrying out field data collection.

·         Funding for library materials

·         Research support

·         Understanding that competitive salaries are necessary to hire and retain bright and successful researchers.

·         Benefits of some kind for part time faculty. Convocation stresses the importance of part timers but provides no benefits other than pay. I am not even necessarily advocating for traditional benefits like health care but can be as simple as perks that are offered to regular employees.

·         "Restrictions on enrollments to ""home"" campuses.

·         Timely evaluations of administrators.

·         Shrinking the late registration, or add/drop, time at the beginning of semesters."

·         Cleaning out DACC administration (Huerta, nursing director, VPAA that is not a VPAA)

·         Way too low of pay scale.  I am tempted to quit but I love the reward of teaching especially when my students are learning very well.  The high rewards I get balances my extremely low pay..

·         The board of regents is utterly unaccountable -- to the university community, to the public at large -- and is uncontrollable. They should be impeached and replaced just for the amount of money they've wasted on headhunters, hiring incompetent candidates who leave two years after they've been hired.

·         Make the promotion & tenure process a formative rather than punitive process.  Don't allow faculty who have clear philosophical and pedagogical bias against their peers to serve.

·         Only enrolling the number of students for which we have infrastructre (parking and classroom space) and appropriate number of qualified faculty teaching, i.e. maintaining a low student to faculty ratio.

·         Treatment of adjunct/part-time faculty

·         equitable treatment of students.

·         Equity on how students are treated in different departments. Our students are treated inequitably with respect to resources allocated to our department compared to other departments in our college. This is unacceptable. They pay the same tuition as the other students and deserve to be treated fairly.

·         No.

·         Judge people by their accomplishments and not the first or last names.  Fire Wilkins, Boston, Huerta, Slaton, Lacey, Chaitanya.

·         Fostering a learning environment

·         moving more temps to permanent funding positions

·         Focus by some faculty on unionizing when they should spend the energy on improving their pedagogy.

·         Inappropriate use of "power" of senior tenured faculty

·         Availability of courses and resources at all NMSU campuses for all students from all NMSU campuses.  We should not be in competition with each other, but supporting students, faculty, and staff who can benefit from being a part of the whole.

·         "Keep faculty aware and involved about admin decisions.  Maybe that is the same as transparency (above) but it is so important. We end up having to learn about our university through the media and gossip (not necessarily in that order) rather than in open and honest communication directly from our administrators.

·         Another issue would be to REFOCUS priorities back to teaching, learning and academic resources, including LIBRARY resources.  We are so far behind where we should be in providing the resources we need for research and teaching. Some real shifts away from high-paid administrators and athletics back to ACADEMICS are essential."

·         Strategic positioning relevant to the other 6 4 year institutions in the state, role and appropriateness of distance education for our institution and others in the state

·         Administrator's use of lack of use of Integrity and Ethics

·         Commitment to research is more important than all of these.

·         Workplace hostility and non-collegiality has reached an all time high.  I feel that it is an atmosphere carefully created (through surrogacy among some who are only too eager to please those in authority) by the administration at all levels to preempt any organizing effort by the  faculty.

·         Waste of faculty time on inefficiently organized administrative tasks.

·         "Holding a MA degree, I find it disgusting that I am only making $18K a year. As a grad student, I made approx $23K per year. The difference, I have discovered is that there is an automatic withdrawal to the ERB. I am being considered an equal with other professors by having my income reduced to donate to the ERB, yet my wages do not reflect the academics, experience, nor the degree I fought so hard to obtain. Thank goodness I am the only one I have to support, however, $18K does not go very far. I provide quality work to my students and, much more than that, to my department. I am very proud of the teaching I do and my students can attest to that as well. Furthermore, since I am having funds taken out of my pay to go to the ERB, it is strange that I do not even qualify to have medical insurance or free courses that go to all types of employees other than ""temporary"" employees. I would like to see at least a two year contract/commitment so that I do not have to ask each and every semester whether I will continue to have employment the following semester. It is stressful! Because of this, one year I did have to move in with friends because I did not have a job one semester.

·         Just to clarify my choices in item #4: ""Competitive salaries and Compensation (Pay Equity) is the most important issue to me personally. The other 3 issues are all #2 on your scale. However, I did have to rate them somehow."

·         I have been here six year and have had at least 4 NMSU presidents and 3 NMSUC presidents and five NMSUC VPAAs.  I wish we could have more emphasis on continuity and in hiring people that would stay.

·         "Green university policies, including xeriscaping.

·         Green curricula and courses so identified and accessible through an interdisciplinary umbrella program."

·         Partnership between NMSU and its community college DACC.

·         Promotion and Tenure is becoming a farce.  The provost can overturn anything voted on by committee for very flimsy reasons.  Faculty votes on this should have the highest weight.

·         "Quality of instructions. Keeping high standards.

·         The standards here are too low and it seems that they are almost trading degrees. Anyone can get it from NMSU."

·         How about NOT ignoring all the off-campus faculty? (See question 1 as a great example)

·         faculty workload

·         Why aren't we ever allowed to evaluate our Division Chairs or Deans?

·         Accountability

·         Pay scale inequaltiy for academic migrant labor aka college professors

·         "I object to Main Campus forcing the CCs to abide by policies (e.g.: allowing extremely late registration, registration restrictions based upon home campus, etc.) that are detrimental to the students at the CCs without adequate consideration of the impact/consequences of those policies.

·         I also object to Main Campus charging outrageous fees to the CCs and yet they seem to do little to support the CCs best interest beyond doing the minimum required."

·         Tied to transparency in decision making, perhaps - transparency/equity in the hiring process for full time instructors.

·         Consistency in administration. I'm tired of presidents departing (for one reason or another) before they would even qualify for a pre-tenure review!

·         Incompetence at the highest level of administration, e.g., provost, HR, Purchasing (I don't know if it has improved since Mike Abernathy left), FSA.

·         "NMSU works from a position of ""stingy."" That affects the way some employees respond - in a stingy manner. For example, the silly $2 Workers Comp fee for those that are not ""on the books"" at a quarter end. But NMSU charges the $2 because they were on the books the 15th of the quarter.

·         Another is their silly withholding tax policies. They do not have to ding a person's pay when they KNOW that person is doing a one-time time that won't repeat throughout the year."

·         Faculty rating of administrators

·         The university no longer uses its budget to supports its primary functions of research and teaching. Spending our dwindling resources on administration and athletics has crippled our ability to function as a research university.

·         Lack of availability of benefits (insurance, etc.) for part-time and non-tenure track professors and other employees.

·         Importance of academics over athletics.

·         The AAUP group at DACC is RUDE and uses bullying tactics.  They are haters who have no respect for their colleagues.  Having AAUP or Academic United is the worst thing that has happened to the NMSU system.

·         Supporting early career professors to get research going.

·         "Respect for faculty

·         Holding administration to higher standards"

·         The structure of the Regents needs to be reformed.  We need more regents (10 would be better than 4 adults + 1 student), and we should recruit people who are NOT graduates of NMSU.  We have a lot of talented people from out of state who reside in NM, let's use them.

·         Failure to consider impacts on students of administrative decisions (e.g., on swirling).

·         The department has been cut from 30+ tenure track faculty to 20 faculty over the last 10 years while maintaining the number of credit hours by employing low qualification holding replacements.  The university needs a commitment to quality of student education not just quantity of students passed through to getting a piece of paper.

·         Blatant disregard in following policy for promotion by president and VPAA

·         Good old boy system in the CACES is growing by the year.  There is not one minority administrator in the college and most have been appointed; including the Dean.

·         Goals of the leadership should pertain to the university's mission and the job descriptions of the employees who accomplish the mission--the faculty and students.

·         academic standards and standing within the state and region

·         Recruiting faculty and administration at the national level. Too many hires within the campus is resulting in a homogenous environment.

·         There is a serious lack of leadership coming from Central Admininistration-including the Borad of Regents.

·         Research infrastructure, including appropriate support personnel.

·         Corruption and cronyism

·         Ways to increase morale that are not qualitative rather than quantitative.  I feel like a number and not a person.

·         Incredible LACK of communication on every level... not just decisions.

·         Audit the Research Office and pare down athletics!

·         Sustainability. We need a president who will commit to sustainability in the mission and goals, the curriculum and research, operation and identity of an Aggie University.

·         the university should provide cost share funds so that researchers can qualify for federal grants requiring matching funds.

·         Basic and honest communication with faculty.

·         There are 42 issues setting on the desks of the Provost, the President, and the VP of Research which are recommendations for improving the research environment at NMSU.  Those recommendations have been there for over a year and little progress has been made.   The recommendations were made by the Feculty Research Council.  The Provost is ignoring them, the VP cannot do anything about them, and the President is gone.

·         overabundance of highly paid middle management administrators whose function is unclear

·         Leadership. NMSU faces a number of institution-level challenges that require someone to make difficult decisions about academic mission, relationships with two-year campuses, graduate programs, distance education, etc. The failure to set a course and act is damaging the university.

·         a sustainable athletic program

·         administrative stability

·         When I rank diversity as important, I mean INTELLECTUAL diversity, NOT racial, ethnic, etc.  There is a stultifying uniformity of opinion, on a wide range of subjects, across the humanities and social sciences.  This should change.

·         Class sizes are too big to effectively teach even when I ignore my research.  We need more teachers, so that we can offer enough classes and be good teachers.

·         There was a mercer study a few years ago and there was a first round of raises.  The next rounds of raises should be completed to make our salaries comparable to our peer institutions.  Also, salary inversion is a real problem in our department.  New assistant Professors are coming in with salaries higher than some Full professors, and all Associates.  The ERB planned changes need to be passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor this year to get the fund on track to 100% funded in the next 20 years.  Other retirement benefits need to be improved, especially health insurance.

·         "NMSU is land-grant, hispanic institute. we have all white top administrators. Top administrators are either to stay here to retire, so they don't do nothing, or to experiment something on NMSU to move on to top university. Both cases are working for NMSU.

·         One person has too much power. For example, President and provost have too much power, and they are isolated or surrounded by those who only care about themselves, not faculty/staff/students.

·         Culture of NMSU is so beaurocratic, authoritative, and corrupted. Check all the administrators out. Many of them are not qualified for jobs, but they keep jobs with 6 figure salary, simply because they are related to top administrators. Clean this mess out. This is the only way to boost employee morale in NMSU."

·         commitment to quality education and to supporting students as they earn that education.

·         Lack of basic maintenance level funding from the State, Regents, and Administration for critical core resources, like library materials.  This lack effects all programs in the University and will continue to worsen as long as annual increases to match inflation are not build into the University budget.

·         "There are many.

·         However, in terms of shared governance and decision making, I'm happy to let others make decisions if they are good decision makers, and this is not a pattern that I have seen at the top."

·         Competitive startup packages and research support.

·         Too many levels of administration.

·         Workload equity; my department, e.g., offers the PhD but we teach a 3/3 load.

 

Question 6: Which of these statements best represents your experience with communication from NMSU administration on major campus decisions that affect our working and learning conditions?

Response Percent

Response Count

I feel like I am in the dark.

39.3%

90

I feel like there is some communication, but usually not enough for me to participate.

50.7%

116

I feel like administration communicates well, but faculty don't necessarily listen.

7.0%

16

I feel like I am fully informed of campus decisions and could participate.

3.1%

7

answered question

229

skipped question

28


Question 7: Would you give a vote of no confidence to: (Please select all that apply.)

Response Percent

Response Count

Your campus president

39.4%

76

Provost

51.3%

99

NMSU Board of Regents

67.4%

130

Other (please specify)

36.3%

70

answered question

193

skipped question

64

Other responses (text input, exactly as written)

·         None

·         Associate/Assistant VPs

·         DACC president, Margie Huerta

·         DACC  Assoc. VPAA;

·         department head and dean

·         Dean

·         I can't think about it.

·         Dean

·         some deans

·         Associate provost and deputy provost

·         Dean of Arts and Sciences

·         What president?

·         incompetent tenured faculty

·         Head Department

·         Dr. Margie Huerta !

·         College of A&S Dean, LC Campus

·         Division Promotion & Tenure Committee

·         NMSU past presidents

·         College of Arts and Sciences Dean

·         Division Head

·         See Q5

·         Vice President for Academic Affairs

·         I would hope for a dialogue that would allow us to avoid this action, but recent experience does not leave me hopeful.

·         Human Resources

·         Library Dean

·         President is out so that is irrelevant. I am close to no vote on Provost but think her failures were more due to failure of higher leadership. She does need to cean house with Grad School Dean, Ben Woods, College of Extended Learning - way too much proliferation of administrative positions that do nto translate in to greater efficiencies or effectiveness

·         Dean Libbin

·         Department Heads

·         Dean of the Business School

·         campus president went to our most recent, not our interim

·         I did not want to choose "campus president" because at this time, the old president left and she is who I would say "no confidence" to. Right now, I would have no idea as I am not involved with the provost or the regents. I do want to say how pleased I am that Couture is gone. Even though I just watch from the sidelines, I knew in an instant that she would not be good for our university.

·         I have met with all of these people and think it would not serve us well to so vote.  I think the Board of Regents could perhaps use some instruction and gudiance from the faculty, but I know all want the best interests of NMSUC.  I think closed door administration is flat out inappropriate and not transparent in the slightest.

·         I don't interact enough with any parties to make an informed decision on this

·         My division supervisor

·         None of the above

·         The Board of Regents have not been transparent in thier decision making. I do not know enough to know whether they deserve a vote of no confidence.

·         I'm not sure how to answer this question.

·         I do not have enough information to give such a vote.

·         Dept. chair of DACC Business & Marketing

·         HR, FSA, Purchasing

·         Department Chair. Division Dean

·         DACC President

·         ALL AAUP members.

·         Deans of Engineering,  Arts & Sciences, Education

·         VPAA

·         No

·         Dean of the CACES

·         Associate Dean Beth Pollack

·         Deans and All VPs

·         Regent's use of Head Hunters to fill administrative offices

·         executive assistants to the former President

·         Dean

·         I hear various stories as to why President Couture left, ranging from a shift in preference when new Regent took over, and the coalition changed; to the football program was not delivering and Regents love football; to the Nursing program at DACC not being re-accredited but surly that is some sort of cover-story for something that stays secret. So many secrets, so little transparency, how can anyone be confident in this aftermath?

·         no one

·         department head

·         DACC President; I am also very skeptical of the B of R at this time. I would not give them a vote of no confidence, but I am concerned about how they conducted the "resignation" of the President.

·         not sure about the provost yet

·         None of the above

·         Exrension Department Heads/Ag College

·         there are problems at multiple levels. Will Pacheco address them so a new president has a chance to move forward?

·         Academics United of New Mexico

·         What? We have a campus president?

·         Dean

·         I don't think it is appropriate to ask this in a survey. In addition, it is a leading question. Bad form.

·         we no longer have a president

·         Most Department Chairs

·         Dean

·         Dean and department head

·         NMSU Carlsbad Nursing Program Director

·         Deans for lack of leadership

 

Question 8: How should faculty participate in solving NMSU’s current problems? (Please select all that apply.)

Response Percent

Response Count

Wait and see if things improve with the new president.

8.2%

19

Work together to exert shared governance to cure administration’s malfeasance.

47.0%

109

Work through faculty senate/councils/associations to represent faculty interests.

61.2%

142

Work to bring collective bargaining to NMSU as soon as possible.

45.7%

106

Other (please specify)

17.7%

41

answered question

232

skipped question

25

Others (specified)

·         Get on and do my job and encourage others to do theirs.

·         continue to come to work and meet the core missions of the university

·         Sound off to the local news media about how bad the morale is among faculty and professional staff at NMSU and explain the reasons why

·         I would support shared governance only if some proof could be given that in the State of NM that bargaining could be done for salaries. I have seen the staff at NMSU pay money for nothing, they have no power, no support, and little to no raises. They pay for nothing. I don't want faculty to have the same thing happen to them.

·         Maybe it's time to ask the question: "What makes NMSU appear to be so ungovernable"?

·         The problem with collective bargaining is that it ends up with an elite who are concerned with protecting their positions and not my concerns or what is needed by the university.  A union ends up as another form of bureaucracy, no more accountable than the university administration and in some ways, less.

·         Board of Regents needs to work collaboratively with faculty

·         Don't ask our opinion unless you plan to respond to what we say. Your choices really don't feel at all authentic.

·         Since we can't strike I recommend a sick out approach.  Everyone eligible for sabbatical should apply for it, regardless of whether they want it or need it.  No one should sign oversubscription forms.  Give only scantron exams.  When grants expire - don't try to renew them.  Don't go to graduation.  Don't do anything for NMSU in summer or Dec 15-Jan 15.  If all faculty restricted themselves to a 40-hour work week NMSU would come to a grinding halt.

·         I worked on the 2008 ALP project on shared governance, and I believe that the single most effective thing that we could do to impact shared governance is for faculty to have a voting Regent. This was a major recommendation in the ALP report we did, but the recommendation went nowhere because Barbara Couture was against it. I strongly urge current faculty senate leadership to work to make this happen, opening up a dialogue with President Pacheco and state legislators after the election to advance this goal in the upcoming legislative session.

·         The administration should talk to faculty who are publishing a lot of papers to see what they think. After all, the goal of academia is to "create and disseminate knowledge." It is the people who are publishing in refereed journals who do the creating and disseminating so admin should talk to them.

·         This assumes that what you perceive as problems meet the threshold requiring action.  Debating the numbers of angels dancing on the heads of our respective pins is not conducive to providing a good education to our students - which, after all is the sole reason we exist.

·         Faculty should concentrate on teaching and allow administration to perform their function.

·         From my observation, polarizations and divisions among faculty within departments and divisions/colleges is problematic--people are territorial, sometimes inappropriately competitive, and deliberate divide the faculty voice for personal and political reasons of their own instead of focusing on the institutional mission with integrity and professionalism--divide and conquer should not be possible.  Unfortunately, it seems the current reality.

·         Faculty, staff, and students should have a say who should be our president, provost, and on the NMSU Board of Regents by voting.

·         We should realize that by simply being "satisfied" with status quo we risk intellectual stagnation.  Our stunted minds do little to enlighten those of our students.  Our students are not the proverbial "future" anymore, they are the present; from their minds shoild come the ideas for a better society and a vibrant planet.  When we do not have the will to fight, our students don't learn how to make a difference in the community.  It is not just a question of survival, for even a mule can survive.  What sets us apart as human beings is the fact that we can think for ourselves.  When we are told by any administration what to think and what to say, we are give up the right to call ourselves "human beings." let alone "educators."

·         Malfeasance is a No-brainer, by inclusion of such inflammatory and unsubstantiated opinionated language it denigrates our efforts and makes them unprofessional.  Certainly such words do not lend to credence and would weaken our desire to Work together to exert shared governance, as it is intended to be and so that at least one faculty (perhaps more) be included in all meetings even the so called closed meetings that have occurred recently.  But I do not want to be associated with a word like malfeasance when those involved are still innocent until being found such in the proper method and channels.  Until then we lend our selves to inappropriate phrasing and possible legal recourse from those refer to above.

·         The second response is very non-neutral, as worded. But I think that working together to address issues with administration's decisions and communication is vital.

·         "Actively promote discussion of campus issues through:

·         --Threaded discussions on a faculty web site with discussants identified by name with the choice of contributing anonymously

·         --Fora with local and outside speakers"

·         This is an awful survey - there is nothing remotely scientific about the options.  Incredibly biased and self serving for the union.  I doubt anything of value will come from this exercise.  I needed to take the survey to see how responses have been obtained.

·         "The faclty is very passivde and they get what they deserve.

·         I do not think the president was a bad one and her departure is a mistery - we will never know the truth.

·         There is a culture of mediorcicity at NMSU and this prevails.

·         AU of NM is no better:

·         Why blabing and using empty words when you do not stand behind the faculty.

·         If this crony administration is to be replaced by AUNM (hypotethically) - we would porbably be worse of.

·         You need to earn reputation and trust of the faculty before you can pretend that you represent anyone - you do not.

·         What have you done lately for the faculty?

·         What important problem have you fought for - or resolved? (none)

·         Were you elected by a large faculty vote?

·         You are no better than this miserable administration and mediocre faculty here."

·         Personally, I have given up.

·         Chose new regents who are responsible and make good decisions that are in coordination with the faculty. Choose a qualified search committee for a new president that includes faculty

·         Agree on ONE issue to pursue by ALL faculty and pursue it to completion without tiring.

·         Do not support Collective bargaining

·         Stop complaining and whining and get to work.

·         Be more involved and vocal in the presidential selection process.

·         Vote out AAUP/AC-UN

·         "The faculty by and large lack standards that would be respected outside the state.  The faculty should be willing to have their grade distributions made public.

·         The commitment to diversity has been abused into allowing the hiring of unqualified faculty who will pass every student in every class."

·         I believe a lot of problems result from the high turnover in the upper administration.  I am not sure that faculty participation will make any difference here, since with new management comes new policies.

·         Push to have better communication with the Dean of A&S

·         All of the above

·         I personally worked in the AAUP movement, and in retrospect, I believe we chose the wrong union. Now it is too late, too much disarray to get to collective bargaining. The good news is the Faculty Senate functions, and pressures, and with the shared governance it implemented and the faculty grievance and mediation, the collective bargaining is not necessary anymore.

·         We have many committees in place already, but we aren't taking full advantage of them. On our campus, we have a faculty consortium right after all faculty meetings. 60 or so faculty will be in the faculty meeting, then 20 stay for the consortium. I don't see how bringing in another committee (aka: collective bargaining) will get faculty to engage in the issues. Rather than putting together another committee that has to be filled, I'd rather utilize what we already have in place.

·         The Board of Regents has a student representative and no faculty representative.  Despite repeated requests to attend, the Chairman of Faculty Senate is denied access.  This includes my husband.  The Board of Regents do not consider faculty or really the needs of the academic community in general.  I really don't know what they consider to be important other than football programs and appeasing donors.

·         Actually live by existing policies and procedures, not declare "special circumstances" at every opportunity so those policies can be circumvented.

·         This comment relates to the survey in general. It is full of leading questions that seem designed to produce a certain result in keeping with the opinions of the survey maker.  This is unethical.

·         I think we need to look within the university for administrators (deans and presidents).  We need to find qualified people who are committed to NMSU and NMSU students. (Not people who are primarily committed to improving their own careers, but wouldn't mind helping people along the way.)

·         A faculty member should be on the board of regents as a voting member.  We have a student member to represent student interests, why isn't there a faculty member on the board to represent faculty and staff interests?  Also, the board of regents (and the ERB board) should not just be cronies appointed by of the Governor.

·         "give some more powers to faculty senate and staff unions.

·         fire all those non-qualified administrators. review job descriptions and make sure every administrators are qualified. reduce the gap of salary between faculty and administrators. clean up corruptions among administrators."

·         Less effort on salvaging a dead football program and put that funding toward helping students. Right now there are less faculty positions which means less options for students and more work for faculty. Treat students and faculty as if they actually matter. Show some leadership


Survey questions and response categories.

*1. What campus do you primarily identify with? (Please select all that apply.)

NMSU Alamogordo

NMSU Carlsbad

Dona Ana Community College

NMSU Grants

NMSU Las Cruces Campus

*2. What is your title?

College Instructor (non-tenure track)

College Assistant Professor (non-tenure track)

College Associate Professor (non-tenure track)

College Professor (non-tenure track)

Instructor

Assistant Professor

Associate Professor

Professor

Extension Faculty

Department Head

Other (please specify)

3. What is the state of faculty morale in your department (on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being highest)?

4. Below are some issues that have been considered important for university faculty. Please indicate how important each of these issues is to you personally. (0=Not at all important, 3=Extremely important)

Commitment to Diversity            

Competitive Salaries and Compensation (Pay Equity)     

Shared Governance and Responsibility 

Transparency in Decision Making             

5. Is there another issue that you think is important for the university to address? If so, please describe it below.

6. Which of these statements best represents your experience with communication from NMSU administration on major campus decisions that affect our working and learning conditions?

I feel like I am in the dark.

I feel like there is some communication, but usually not enough for me to participate.

I feel like administration communicates well, but faculty don't necessarily listen.

I feel like I am fully informed of campus decisions and could participate.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/i/t.gifhttp://www.surveymonkey.com/i/t.gif7. Would you give a vote of no confidence to: (Please select all that apply.)

Your campus president

Provost

NMSU Board of Regents

Other (please specify)

8. How should faculty participate in solving NMSU’s current problems? (Please select all that apply.)

Wait and see if things improve with the new president.

Work together to exert shared governance to cure administration’s malfeasance.

Work through faculty senate/councils/associations to represent faculty interests.

Work to bring collective bargaining to NMSU as soon as possible.

Other (please specify)

 

DACC Admin

posted Dec 12, 2012, 12:09 PM by Academics United   [ updated Dec 13, 2012, 8:27 AM ]

Dr. Margie Huerta, president of DACC, is facing major consequences for a number of bad managerial decisions (exemplified by high levels of faculty dissatisfaction in our survey.) In addition to her inability to keep the nursing program accredited, she has systematically reduced the effectiveness of the office of vice president of academic affairs (VPAA) and left this all-important administrative position vacant for more than three years.   
 
This situation has hurt DACC in a number of ways and endangered its Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accreditation because the college has not met a minimum qualification of having a VPAA. In addition, all promotion and tenure reviews for this period are out of compliance with university and college policy and procedures because the "special assistant to the president" that Dr. Huerta hired in lieu of a VPAA has been signing faculty promotion and annual reports for the last three plus years.  
 
These are two examples of President Huerta's disregard for the institution, the work faculty do, and the policies and procedures that guide us. The special assistant that Dr. Huerta hired may be doing an admirable job, but that involves work she is neither qualified for nor authorized to do. The buck rests with Dr. Huerta, who is responsible for establishing and maintaining this counter-productive arrangement that subverts university policy.    

This blatant mismanagement and disregard for policy by President Huerta has hurt us all. We cannot and should not wait for the board of regents to correct this problem. Even if they terminate President Huerta's contract or otherwise remove her from her position, they will not have solved the problems caused by DACC's lack of shared governance. Faculty need to unite and demand their rightful place in oversight of administrative performance.

By way of background, the last VPAA was Dr. Anna Chieffo, who retired in the spring of 2009. Dr. Chieffo, who moved up from the ranks of professors at DACC to become the VPAA, had a long history with and a deep concern for the institution and the students. But since her departure in 2009, no VPAA has been hired. Instead, Dr. Margaret Lovelace, a faculty member on loan from NMSU Carlsbad, was hired as "special assistant to the president," and required to do some of the work normally done by the VPAA. Documents acquired through NMSU Human Resources show that Dr. Lovelace has never been approved by NMSU to be the VPAA nor to act in that capacity.      

In a memo to Provost Dominguez, dated June 30, 2009, Dr. Huerta claims that the search for a VPAA "was not successful in yielding a replacement for Dr. Anna Chieffo." Since Dr.Chieffo had retired less than two months earlier, one wonders how there could even have been time for an adequate search. Nonetheless, the search was closed and in lieu of a VPAA, President Huerta requested a "Special Assistant to the President to assist me with the responsibilities of the VPAA." 

The memo goes on to say that, "Dr. Lovelace meets the minimum qualifications for this position as defined by NMSU HR." No doubt she does--the qualifications necessary to be a special assistant are certainly fewer than those for a vice president in charge of academic affairs at NMSU's largest community college.      

This effect of this maneuver was to move the Office of Academic Affairs squarely into the President's office and directly under Dr. Huerta's control, to the detriment of DACC's students, faculty, and staff.   

To verify this, we checked the HR 218 Workforce Salary Listings in the NMSU library and discovered that Dr. Lovelace is not listed as an employee at DACC at all, but as a faculty member on the Carlsbad campus. In fact, Dr. John Walker is listed as the associate vice president and highest-ranking administrator in the DACC office of academic affairs. But in a response to one faculty member's request for travel reimbursement this year, AVPAA Walker wrote, "I did receive your travel request. After reviewing, I am not authorized to approve. It should be submitted to Dr. Lovelace...". Apparently Dr. Walker is aware that the responsibilities for DACC's office of academic affairs are now being managed out of the President's office.  
    
This is a serious problem even if Dr. Lovelace is a faculty-centered assistant to the president who is a capable substitute for the VPAA, despite her not being technically qualified or approved by the Provost's office for the position. The problem is that she has none of the authority that the office of VPAA requires to fulfill its responsibilities to the college or the faculty. This might not be a problem in the short term, but Dr. Lovelace is in the fourth year of "assisting."  

President Huerta apparently is aware that her appointment of Dr. Lovelace is not official. Documents sent out from the President's office regularly refer to Dr. Lovelace as the "Assistant to the President." The misunderstanding that she is the VPAA or interim VPAA has been established in the minds of some faculty simply because she has been in the physical office and inappropriately acted as the VPAA for years. Or maybe some faculty feel powerless to object to Dr. Huerta's unjustifiable hiring practices. Whatever the reason, even a past president of DACC's faculty council referred to Dr. Lovelace as the VPAA in a recent email.      

This abuse of university hiring policies is not without consequences. Dr. Lovelace's position as special assistant to the president only authorizes her to speak for the president and represent her in specific actions. She has no administrative authority. Yet, for more than three years, Dr. Lovelace has acted in the place of the VPAA in the DACC chain of command and signed promotion and tenure portfolios as the VPAA. There is a two-part problem with this:
  • As a faculty member, Dr. Lovelace is violating the privacy of every faculty member whose book she signs. Since she is a faculty member herself, she has no permission to look at P&T books, especially those including supervisor evaluations.
  • Or if, as the President's representative, Dr. Lovelace is granted authority to sign faculty P & T documents, then her signature represents a second signature from the president's office, since the president also signs--this is a clear conflict of interest. What administrative office is allowed to approve or disapprove promotion or tenure applications twice?
Every faculty P & T book Dr. Lovelace has reviewed and signed instead of a VPAA for the past four years is potentially grievable.      
Perhaps, if the DACC President had hired a VPAA, DACC might still have an accredited nursing program and not be in danger of losing its HLC accreditation. Perhaps faculty and student morale would not be in the cellar, or student enrollment down. This history of blatant mismanagement and violation of university policies and procedures by President Huerta has hurt DACC and degraded the college as a much-needed resource for the region.

While we hope NMSU's new administrative team may be able to untangle some of this mess, faculty must organize to ensure that administrators follow P&T procedure. We, the faculty, are the solution to this problem. Unite with Academics United today, and begin changing the way NMSU does business. 

Faculty Role in Changing Leadership at NMSU

posted Oct 9, 2012, 2:19 PM by Becky Corran   [ updated Dec 12, 2012, 12:22 PM by Academics United ]

The recent separation from NMSU of President Barbara Couture has worsened the already distressed state of the university. The faculty and staff of NMSU are the permanent institution; senior members have invested their professional lives here, only to see a series of failures undermine our efforts. This is still a good university, and many faculty are dedicated to our students and our scholarly work. Unfortunately, the Regents and Dr. Couture have bound themselves legally to keep us in the dark about the reasons for the abrupt change in the administration. The fact that the Regents put out not one, but three different announcements about Dr. Couture's departure clearly marked the lack of transparency and clarity in these actions.
 
The University President serves at the pleasure of the Board of Regents. Members of the board have demonstrated their willingness to devote a great deal of time and effort to furthering what they see as the interests of NMSU. Dr. Couture was hired as the strongest person in a 5 person pool of candidates, and many of us had great hopes that she could provide steady and strong guidance to an institution with great untapped potential. Sadly, we never saw that strong and steady leadership.
 
Below is a partial list of issues that need to be taken into account in reviewing the past actions of the Couture administration. Many of these problems also involve the Provost as the chief academic officer. While there are factors outside the direct control of any University, these issues all reflect on the quality of the university administration.
 
1. NMSU, like most institutions of higher education, suffered from the recent recession. Like other public institutions, it has also been the target of a political climate that favors tax cuts over resource investments. NMSU was actually cut more than other colleges in New Mexico, suggesting that the administration has been ineffective at working with the legislature. Two results of legislative policy have been annual rises in tuition and stagnation of faculty salaries. (This is not entirely a recent phenomenon. Those of you who were around for the administration of Gary Johnson may remember that he funded raises for K-12 educators, but not for higher education.) Combined with increases in the costs of pensions and health benefits, some faculty and staff have seen a cut in take home pay.
 
2. The efforts of the Couture administration to address salary limitations were counterproductive, undermining rather than improving faculty morale. The administration disregarded carefully crafted Faculty Senate resolutions on allocation of scarce monies for salary enhancements, and instead embarked on the creation of a poorly thought out program rewarding a small number of highly productive faculty members. The situation was only made worse by the sudden $950 bonus that, among other things, required faculty with responsibility for staff on grants to come up with an unbudgeted expenditure to fulfill a promise that they had no part in making. Faculty Senate's attempts to moderate these policies have been futile.
 
3. The athletic program has gone from a mid-major to a collapsed conference. The annual transfer of over 4 million dollars from academics to athletics remains unexplained, except as a contractual obligation. The resentment over this transfer would be reduced if the administration could show that NMSU was benefiting from these payments. In the absence of any meaningful accounting, the university community can only speculate about how that money is actually spent.
 
4. The loss of accreditation for the DACC nursing school showed a massive insensitivity to the needs of the university community as a whole, not just the students and faculty directly affected. The administration was able to scrounge up money for scholarships for the surviving students from the DACC program, limiting the damage somewhat.  The main campus nursing program is now straining to meet the needs of these students.  Despite two years' notice that the program was in jeopardy, the administration could not show enough progress to keep even a probationary status. Students outside nursing are now questioning the university's commitment to the value of their degrees. While nursing is the only program that has actually lost accreditation, others have been in potential jeopardy due to losses of key faculty. The parties most responsible for maintaining accreditation of the community college programs are the Community College President, the NMSU President, and the Board of Regents as the ultimate authority for NMSU.
 
5. Public resentment over what is seen as lavish spending by the university on itself has undermined public support for key higher education bond issues. Higher education narrowly lost a bond issue in 2010 in part due to voter questions about publicized financial problems both at NMSU and UNM. This year, the lavish settlement with Dr. Couture may jeopardize the current general obligation bond, judging by comments in the Sun-News. Those funds are critical for maintaining and improving the infrastructure of higher education in New Mexico, not just NMSU. If nothing else, the Regents should have timed the action with Dr. Couture for after the election.
 
6. Other important problems with the current administration are likely to be invisible to the Regents, but are salient to faculty. The concentration of authority in the Provost's office has undermined the College Deans. Human Resources has increasingly dictated faculty hiring procedures, with the mandate being to avoid litigation rather than to accommodate the culture and capabilities of the academic departments. Departments cannot select their preferred candidates; these decisions are now made further up in the administration, to the detriment of faculty morale and the ability of the departments to develop their own programs. Protests from the deans and memorials from Faculty Senate are disregarded.
 
7. The Regents have continued their policy of excluding the president of the Faculty Senate from their closed meetings. This suggests that they see the faculty representative as a liability in those discussions, rather than as a resource that could help them understand their options and the effects of their actions on the university community. At the same time, the student voice is included, in the person of the student regent. This practice is ill considered and counterproductive.
 
Regents and the University
As individuals, the Regents all have extensive histories of public service. Regent Cheney is a bank president; Regent Pino is the director of public works and community services for the City of Santa Fe; Regent Gonzales is a business consultant, chair of the NM Democratic party and former president of the National Association of Counties, and Regent Mitchell is the CEO of Las Cruces Machine. The student regent is a graduate student in business and finance and works for Edward Jones. Regent Pino has a degree in engineering; all the other regents have degrees in business. Regent Mitchell has a graduate degree from the University of Houston. They serve 6-year terms, about the same length of time as a junior faculty member spends getting tenured.
 
Business education and experience is very well represented on this Board. What none of them can claim on their resumes is any experience as scholars. A university is not like any other enterprise; certainly it has little in common with banks or manufacturing. Scholarship is engagement with students and with data and ideas. University administration is responsible for creating a campus culture that supports scholarship and instruction. Whatever qualifications are used by successive governors to determine their appointments to these positions that have so much control over the university, experience with the actual enterprise of academia does not appear to be on the list.
 
Where we go from here
While we have been told that we will hear about the new interim president on October 10, there have been no announcements about the procedures to be followed to conduct the search for a permanent successor. We hope that the Regents will seek and accept input on this crucial matter from a range of sources, including Faculty Senate, the Employee Council, and AFSCME, three organizations that are charged with representing the interests of the permanent university.
 
Personnel matters are delicate, and much of the discussion needs to be private. That makes it even more important that the university community feels adequately represented by the committee members. It is crucial that members of the search committee represent the major stakeholders in the life of NMSU. Each of the six colleges on main campus, and each of the four community colleges has a unique culture. While not every college needs to be represented, a full range of interests must be included. This means not just business and agriculture, which were the only colleges on the initial search committee last time. In the past, faculty representatives on the committee were elected, giving them a mandate from the faculty as a whole. This process should be revived, and extended to exempt and non-exempt staff. Having the members appointed by a Board of Regents with a very narrow range of backgrounds makes it too likely that only a narrow range of candidates will be considered.
 
The policy of excluding the ex-officio representative of the faculty from the closed discussions must be revisited. This title of Faculty Senate President is earned by hard work and extensive experience with the policies of most concern to the faculty, and that experience is vital to effective decision making by the board.
 
Being a Regent for NMSU must also include representing NMSU to the legislature and to the rest of the State. Dr. Couture faced her first NMSU legislative session within weeks of moving to campus. That may also be the experience of the next president. The Regents must take seriously their own responsibilities to use their wealth of business and political experience to advocate for the university. We must never again be treated as less deserving than the other institutions of higher learning in this state.

Good News for NMSU Financial Health

posted Feb 21, 2012, 2:33 PM by Becky Corran   [ updated Apr 29, 2012, 4:05 PM by Academics United ]

NMSU's Financial Health, 2012

NMSU is financially sound. In 2010, we weathered the storm, gaining more than $44 M in Net Assets, according to administration’s own financial reports (http://www.nmsu.edu/~boffice/financials/). By the way, “Change in Net Assets,” is how non-profit organizations report profits. The $58.5 M turnaround in 2010 was remarkable for an institution that claimed to be in such financial straits.  And last year, 2011, the beat went on.  NMSU gained more than $36 M in “Net Assets,” or net income last year.  

Income Statement

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Total Revenues

$554,872,492

$553,554,579

$558,958,561

$613,701,780

$606,106,001

Total Expenses

$514,546,916

$534,310,565

$573,499,174

$569,646,809

$569,298,917

Change in Net Assets

$40,325,576

$19,244,014

($14,540,613)

$44,054,971

$36,807,084

Net Income Ratio

7.3%

3.5%

-2.6%

7.2%

6.10%

In fact, with the exception of 2009, unrestricted net assets have grown each year. The financial crises ended for NMSU in 2009, but our administration has found it decidedly profitable to keep it alive in their rhetoric, banking profits from increased tuition, cuts in service to students, increased workloads, and reductions in compensation.

Read on here.

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