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Updates and News

Criteria for Accreditation || Evidence Archive ||  FAQ || Forums || Probation Areas || Process || Progress ||Timeline || Updates & News

Articles and Updates Archive:

Fall 2017 Mission Accomplished Videos
Monthly Forum May 22, 2017
Mission Accomplishments 2016-2017
Monthly Forum April 18, 2017: Mid-Way Progress Report
Monthly Forum March 28, 2017
Update for School of Education Newsletter, February 27, 2017
Monthly Forum February 20, 2017
Monthly Forum January 23, 2017

Monthly Forum November 21, 2016
Retention Summit Nov. 3 – 4, 2016
Optic Articles

Weekly Updates Archive:

See also our recorded monthly forums.

9/8/17: This Week in HLC Accreditation: On Wednesday, September 6th, the Board of Regents reviewed and approved the Assurance Argument, and Highlands submits all our materials to the HLC on Monday, September 11th, in anticipation of our November 6th-8th on site visit. I would like to personally thank the campus community for all their efforts in drafting, proofreading, and providing documents for the Assurance Argument. This has been a truly collaborative effort, and the quality and thoroughness of the document reflect the dedication and the hard work of all sectors of the university.

9/1/17: This Week in HLC Accreditation: On Tuesday September 5, 2017, there will be a community forum at 5:30 in the SUB Ballroom on the HLC Probation Areas and the Assurance Argument. On Wednesday September 6, 2017, there will be a special Board of Regents meeting for the Regents to review the final Assurance Argument before submission. The University is still accepting comments and corrects to the Assurance Argument, at http://www.nmhu.edu/accreditation-information/assurance-argument/. All comments must be given to Brandon Kempner, bkempner@nmhu.edu by Thursday September 7th, at 5:00 PM, for inclusion in the final document we give the HLC on September 11th. A new draft of the argument, including all revisions up to this point, will be posted on Friday afternoon, so please proofread the most recent version.

8/25/17: This Week in HLC Accreditation: The University is accepting comments and corrects to the Assurance Argument, at http://www.nmhu.edu/accreditation-information/assurance-argument/. All comments must be given to Brandon Kempner, bkempner@nmhu.edu by Thursday September 7th, at 5:00 PM, for inclusion in the final document we give the HLC on September 11th.

5/5/17: This Week in Accreditation: At the Friday (4/28) Board of Regents, the Board took several actions that will assist in removing our probationary status. The Board approved an updated Board of Regents manual that includes the new mission and updated guidelines from the AGB, the Association of Governing Board of Universities and Colleges. Both of these directly address the probationary concerns surrounding the Board of  Regents, including evidence of utilizing best Board of Regent practices. The Board also endorsed the Capital Assurance Procedures, prepared by Sylvia Baca and also endorsed by the Faculty Senate, Executive Management Team, and Staff Senate. These procedures apply to building projects over a $1,000,000, and are designed to keep those projects on time, on scope, and under budget. We’ve already applied these to the Building of the Trolley Barn; creating such procedures was an explicit requirement from the HLC. Finally, the Board took a close look at the various tuition scenarios, including impact on students, which should provide evidence that the Board understand its “fiduciary duties,” another area of concern from the HLC.

4/22/17: This Week in HLC Accreditation: On Monday (4/17), we held our mid-way forum, discussing the progress we’ve made and what we still need to accomplish before our HLC visit, which takes place on November 6th-8th, 2017. I’d ask everyone to review this midway report, posted on our HLC “News and Update” webpage, http://www.nmhu.edu/accreditation-information/updates-and-news/, and to think about how you can contribute to our accreditation efforts as we enter this essential 6 month period for the future of Highlands.

4/15/17: This Week in HLC Accreditation: A few quick updates before the holiday weekend. We have our next HLC Forum on Monday (4/17/17), and this will serve as our mid-point update. We have approximately six more months before our Assurance Argument is due to the HLC, and I’ll be discussing what we’ve done for our 9 probation areas and what we still have left to do. Our new Provost, Dr. Roxanne Gonzales, began this week, and she brings a wealth of HLC and accreditation experience to our team. She will be joining the HLC Steering Committee beginning next week.

4/8/17: This Week in HLC Accreditation: President Sam Minner, VPFA Max Baca, VP-SEM Edward Martinez, Regent LouElla Marr-Montoya, and me (Brandon Kempner) all attended the HLC conference in Chicago this week. It’s an extremely large conference, with thousands of attendees. The HLC uses this conference to share information about the latest changes in the higher education landscape and to update us on the accreditation criteria. There was a lot of good information we learned at the various presentations, ranging from information about financials, to persistence and completion (the HLC’s big focus over the next few years), to life after college, to student success,  to faculty credentials. We were also able to meet our HLC Liaison, Anthea Sweeney, who will be helping us through our probation process. The information we learned was very valuable, and we’ll be using it to improve our Assurance Argument as the HLC workgroups continue their writing efforts.

4/1/2017: This Week in HLC Accreditation: We’re at the HLC Annual Conference in Chicago from Friday-Tuesday, so no update this week. If you missed Tuesday’s (3/28) HLC forum, this one on the budget, you can watch a recording here: http://www.nmhu.edu/accreditation-information/forums/.

3/24/2017: This Week in HLC Accreditation: We have our next HLC Forum on Tuesday 3/28, from 2-3 in the SUB ballroom. We’ll be discussing finances, our CFI (Composite Financial Indicators), university reserves, capital planning, and strategic budgeting, all important areas of concern for the HLC. Later in the week, President Minner, VP-SEM Edward Martinez, VPFA Max Baca, and I will all be attending the HLC annual conference. This should provide us with a chance to get acquainted with the most recent HLC policies and to discuss best practices with a wide variety of experts.

3/17/2017: This Week in HLC Accreditation: Our 2016-2017 HLC Institutional Update is being finalized, which is our annual report to HLC about our enrollment numbers, faculty/staff numbers, and our financial indicators. This is how the HLC keeps tracks of our data, and is basically our “official numbers.” Some interesting pieces to consider: we had 2066 degree seeking undergraduates and 1055 degree-seeking graduates in 2015-2016 and a small handful of non-degree seeking students; we had 2080 full time students versus 1183 part time students. We had 135 full time faculty, down only 1 from last year, and 144 per-course faculty, up 3. Our administration has declined the most, from 187 full-time administrators to 172 full-time administrators. For staff, we reported 150 full-time, up from 138 full-time the year before. I’ll be sharing the full report when it’s finalized on our accreditation website. On Friday (3/17), our VP of Advancement Terri Law and I will be presenting our mission to the NMHU Foundation Board for endorsement. It’s important that the entire campus community, from students to faculty to the foundation to alumni, be part of our mission and help achieve our strategic goals, including being a strong community partner.

3/10/2017: This Week in HLC Accreditation: We are making good progress on several fronts in our probation areas. In Co-Curricular Assessment, programs such as First Year Experience, Academic Advising, the Writing Center, and many others have turned in their Outcomes Assessment plans and are collecting data for 2016-2017, including using surveys provided by SkyFactor. Regarding our accomplishments to our Mission and the Vision 2020 Strategic Plan, the Vice-Presidents are putting together a list of our accomplishments for each of our six strategic goals, to be shared with the campus community later this Spring. For our building plan, designed to make sure that projects over $1,000,000 come in under cost, this has been shared with the Executive Leadership Team and is now going to the Staff Senate and Faculty Senate for comment, before heading to the Board of Regents in April.

3/3/2017: This Week in HLC Accreditation: Our HLC Workgroups, tasked with writing the Assurance argument, began meeting this week, with Workgroups #4 and #5 meeting on Monday 2/27, Workgroup #1 on  Wednesday 3/1, with the rest of the Workgroups scheduled for the meeting next week. You can see the Workgroup memberships at http://www.nmhu.edu/accreditation-information/accreditation-process/. 1 to 2 members from each Workgroups have been assigned to one of our accreditation sub-criteria, and will work on drafting the 2-3 pages demonstrating that we meet that criteria. The entire Workgroup will review and edit the document, and then we’ll be sharing it with the entire campus community for input and comment. On other fronts, our curricular and co-curricular assessment are being completed for 2015-2016, with the curricular programs submitting their final reports this week and the co-curricular programs (like FYE, academic advising, ARMS, the writing center, etc.) submitting their plans and learning outcomes this week.

2/24/17: This Week in HLC Accreditation: On Monday 2/20, we held a kick-off luncheon for the Assurance Argument volunteers. This group of 50 faculty, staff, and student volunteers will be writing the 100 page document we provide to the HLC, proving that we meet all accreditation criteria and have resolved all the probation areas. The volunteers are divided into 6 teams, with 5 teams focus on one of the 5 main accreditation criteria and the other working to organize our site visit. Our initial draft will be completed by May, then data added over the Summer, with a full version provided to the campus community by September 1 for comment and review. Also on Monday 2/20, we held a forum on the retention initiatives currently underway on campus. If you were not able to attend, the forum recording is available at http://www.nmhu.edu/accreditation-information/forums/, along with all our past HLC forums.

2/17/17: This Week in HLC Accreditation: The weekly HLC update—Many thanks to all the faculty and staff who volunteered to participate in one of the workgroups preparing our assurance argument for the HLC. There will be a luncheon for these individuals on Monday, February 20 from 12-1 in the SUB Ballroom. I will make a few comments and Dr. Kempner will talk a bit about the process for preparing the argument. We are getting an early start on the document, which is good. The goal—a rock solid assurance argument prepared well in advance of the due date with ample time for review and revisions (as necessary) by the faculty, staff, administration, and the Regents.

2/10/17: This Week in HLC Accreditation: The HLC has given us our dates for upcoming visit: Monday November 6, 2017 – Wednesday November 8, 2017. This earlier date will be excellent for us, as it avoids conflicts with Thanksgiving Break or Finals. A lively and involved campus will help us make the best possible case to the HLC. This means that we’ll need to have the Assurance Argument filed with the HLC by early October, and our goal will be to have a completed draft of the Assurance Argument ready for campus and Board of Regents review by September 1, 2017. That gives up roughly 6 months to write the best Assurance Argument possible. I have organized our 50 HLC volunteers into 6 groups, and we’ll kick off our writing once I get back from the HLC Professional Development Week conference next week.

2/3/17: This Week in HLC Accreditation: Here’s a shortened version of the update provided to the Board of Regents on February 3, 2017: 1. HLC Campus Visit: The HLC requested 3 dates for their Monday-Wednesday visit that must be completed by December 2017. Highlands provided them with November 6-8, November 13-15, and November 27-29. Our final Assurance argument will be due 30 days before the visit, and then we’ll work backwards for our formal Board of Regents review of the Assurance argument. HLC Upcoming Dates: Professional Development Week (2/13-2/14): Brandon Kempner and Jennifer Lindline are attending, with a focus on Student Learning Outcomes and Outcomes Assessment; NM Higher Education Assessment and Retention Conference (2/23-2/24): The state’s annual conference on Assessment and Retention; a variety of Highlands faculty and staff will be attending; Institutional Update (2/27-3/30): Max Baca, Buddy Rivera (OIER Director), and Brandon Kempner will provide enrollment and financial updates to the HLC; Annual Conference (3/31-4/4): President Sam Minner, VP-SEM Edward Martinez, and Brandon Kempner are confirmed to attend; Persistence and Completion Academy (6/19-6/20): A team of five will be sent from the Retention Advisory Committee. 3. Pushes and Priorities for February: Outcomes Assessment, March 1st deadline for 2015-2016 data; Center services; Completing Contingent Faculty evaluations for Fall 2016, February 15th deadline; Strategic plan updates.

1/27/17: This Week in HLC Accreditation: I’ve added several new links to our HLC “Evidence Archive” webpage, located at http://www.nmhu.edu/accreditation-information/evidence-archive/. This includes information on the Contingent Faculty Handbook, our retention and recruitment efforts with Ruffalo-Noel-Levitz, Strategic Plans, and Outcomes Assessment. Dr. Edward Martinez came to the General Faculty meeting on Wednesday 1/25/17 to discuss recruitment and retention, an important probation area. If you missed the HLC forum on Monday 1/23/17, where Dr. Minner made some remarks about the HLC and then we took a deep dive into the Contingent Faculty probation areas, that is now uploaded to our forums page at http://www.nmhu.edu/accreditation-information/forums/.

1/20/17: This Week in HLC Accreditation: Our next HLC forum will take place on Monday January 23, from 3-4 PM in the SUB Ballroom. We’ll be discussing the upcoming HLC conferences, our path forward with our volunteers and writing the Assurance Argument, and then probation areas related  to Contingent Faculty, namely evaluation and orientation. The Executive Management Team will be meeting on Friday 1/27 to finalize the budget priorities for next year, and then that information will be shared with the campus community. Finalizing the 2015-2016 Outcomes Assessment process will be a major point of emphasis over the next month, and Jennifer Lindline, Diana Marrs, and I are meeting on Friday 1/20/2017 to discuss our next steps regarding that important probation area.  This week, Highlands signed an MOU with San Juan College to provide additional student services at the Farmington center.

1/13/17: This Week in HLC Accreditation: As the University starts back up for Spring 2016, we’ve made some important progress on several of our probation areas. Department chairs now have access to all Contingent Faculty course evaluations from Fall 2016, and will be using these to complete their evaluation of those faculty members. The online orientation module is also ready for Contingent Faculty. On Thursday (1/12), Kim Blea led a meeting on Co-Curricular Assessment, where Co-Curricular programs such as ARMAS, the Writing Center, the library, etc., will use the Co-Curricular Assessment process to assess and improve their programs. Lastly, mark your calendars for Monday January 23, 3-4 PM, SUB Ballroom, for our next HLC Update forum.

1/6/17: This Week in HLC Accreditation: Over the Winter Break, our application to the HLC Persistence and Completion Academy was accepted. This program, which will help Highlands work on our retention numbers (a probation area), is a multi-year collaboration with the HLC. A group of 5 Highlands Faculty, Staff, and Administrators, drawn from the Retention Advisory Committee, will attend a series of workshops in Chicago to discuss best practices in retention strategies and to design ways of implementing those at Highlands. This is part of our efforts to better work with the HLC moving forward. Along those lines, Jennifer Lindline and Brandon Kempner will be attending the HLC’s Professional Development Week conference in Tempe, Arizona this February, and President Minner, Dr. Kempner, and perhaps a NMHU Regent will be attending the HLC annual conference in Chicago at the start of April.

12/9/16: This Week in HLC Accreditation: Thanks again to the over 50 volunteers who have agreed to help on the HLC assurance argument. We’ll begin our work in January. The Co-Curricular Assessment Process was approved by the Board of Regents on Friday (12/2) and will be implemented in Spring 2017, resolving probation area 4.B. Diana Marrs, Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence, has helped to design the Contingent Faculty online orientation module, an asynchronous course all our new faculty can complete to help familiarize themselves with the policies and resources of Highlands. In conjunction with the Contingent Faculty Handbook and our new Contingent Faculty evaluation process, this will resolve probation areas 2.A and 3.C.

12/2/16: This Week in HLC Accreditation: I’ve made a formal call for volunteers to work on the HLC Assurance Argument, which is due November 1, 2017. Right now, we have over 40 different volunteers from faculty, staff, students, and administration. Having a broad range of volunteers will show the HLC how seriously we take accreditation and how much as a community we want to improve our University. There is still time to volunteer, so if you’re interested in working on the HLC argument, send me an e-mail at bkempner@nmhu.edu. The Co-Curricular Assessment Process, a central requirement to resolving Probation Area 4.B, was passed by the Faculty Senate this Wednesday (11/30); it goes to the Board of Regents this Friday (12/2) and also to the Staff Senate. Track our progress in all these areas at our accreditation website: www.nmhu.edu/hlc.

11/18/16: This Week in HLC Accreditation. We have our next HLC forum on Monday, 11/21 from 3-4 PM in the SUB Ballroom. Our Zoom link will be https://nmhu.zoom.us/j/910223218. Please join us, but if you aren’t able, we record these and link them on our HLC forums page, http://www.nmhu.edu/accreditation-information/forums/. We’ll be discussing the Strategic Budget concerns raised by the HLC, Area 5A, and our plans to resolve them. We’ve also updated the link on our main www.nmhu.edu page to link to the full Accreditation website. We’ll be using this website to present our action plans and to archive evidence of our accomplishments. We want this to be a transparent process, so if you’d like any additional information to be linked on the website, please let me know at bkempner@nmhu.edu.

11/11/16: This Week in HLC Accreditation. The Retention Summit last week was well-attended, generating specific ideas on how to address our retention and persistence issues, including improvements in academic alignment, cross training, internships, advising, and admissions. Now that the Board of Regents has approved the Retention Plan and the Retention Advisory Committee has been formed, Highlands is making good progress towards resolving this probation area. A draft of the Co-Curricular Assessment process, another major probation area, has been completed and sent out to impacted programs for feedback. This process will be completed by January 2017, giving us a full year to collect data to present to the HLC in November. Lastly, the new Budget Process continues to be implemented. Individual units have submitted their budget requests, and budget hearings are currently taking place. Budget prioritization by the Executive Management Team will take place the week of November 21st, with a full budget presentation to the campus shortly afterward.

11/4/16: This Week in HLC Accreditation. First, the HLC FAQ Student trifolds are in—if you’d like to have copies to pass out to students or have available in your office, either e-mail me at bkempner@nmhu.edu or drop by 104 Rogers in the mornings to pick them up. This should be a good document to answer student questions, and can also serve as a script if students call or e-mail you. Second, Dr. Edward Martinez and the Office of Strategic Enrollment Management are hosting a two-day retention summit on campus this week, Thursday 11/3 from 12:30-4:00 and Friday 8:30-3:30 in Sala de Madrid. This forum will help address the Retention Probation Area of the HLC concerns, as we work together to find better ways to make data-driven decisions to help our students succeed here at Highlands. Please drop by some or all of the summit.

10/28/16: This Week in HLC Accreditation. We held a number of forums and meetings this week to make sure the entire campus community was up-to-date on our progress with the HLC probation: a campus-wide forum on Monday (10/24), an HLC update at the General Faculty meeting on Wednesday (10/26), a Facebook Live event with students on Thursday (10/27), and an update to the Board of Regents on Friday (10/28). If you weren’t able to attend any of these, you can access a Zoom recording of the Monday forum at http://www.nmhu.edu/accreditation-information/forums/.

10/21/16: This Week in HLC Accreditation. We have our next HLC Update Forum on Monday, October 24th, 3-4 PM, in the SUB Ballroom. Our Zoom link is https://nmhu.zoom.us/j/910223218. This will include updates on the Mission, Action Plans, and our HLC website. This week, I held meetings with the Co-Curricular Group (10/21) to finalize Co-Curricular Assessment, with Deans and Chairs (10/21) to discuss Contingent Faculty Orientation and Evaluation, and with the HLC Steering Committee (10/20) to discuss our progress and action plans. Our student trifold handouts are completed and will be printed soon; you can see a copy here: https://its.nmhu.edu/IntranetUploads/003894-HLC_web-10172016111047.pdf. We’ll also be arranging for either the President or me to visit larger classes to answer any probation related questions.

10/14/16: This Week in HLC Accreditation: We’ve scheduled our next HLC Update Forum for Monday October 24th, 3-4 PM, in the SUB Ballroom. All faculty, staff, and students are welcome. We’ll be going over the progress we’ve made, what we have left to do, our accreditation website, and then focusing in on Probation Area 1A: Mission. We had two meetings this week about Probation Area 3C: Assessment of Co-Curricular Activities (non-academic programs that help contribute to student learning, such as internships, ARMAS, tutoring, etc.). On Tuesday 10/11, the Executive Management Team demoed the SkyFactor Student Assessment suite, which would help us to collect data to show these programs are successful. On Thursday 10/13, the Co-Curricular Committee met to discuss procedures and guidelines for these assessments. Lastly, we had a good discussion on 10/12 at the Faculty Senate about how to better communicate with our students regarding probation. We’re working on creating probation handouts to distribute in classes and at the dorms and scheduling social media events on Facebook to answer student questions. If you have any other ideas on how to best reach students, e-mail me at bkempner@nmhu.edu.

10/7/16: This Week in HLC Accreditation: On Tuesday 10/4, President Minner and I had our first phone call with our HLC Liason, Dr. Anthea Sweeney. She confirmed that our Action Letter, linked on our Accreditation FAQs webpage, should operate as our road map to remove Highlands from HLC probation. I’ll be developing that letter into a series of action plans that will be hosted on our upcoming Accreditation website, where the entire campus will be able to track our progress. In addition to that, it was a busy week of meetings as we continue to organize our efforts. The HLC Steering Committee met for the first time on Tuesday 10/4. That group initially consists of President Minner, VPFA Baca, Provost-VPAA Linder, VP-SEM Martinez, Dean of Students Blea, and me. We’ll also be putting together small subcommittees to deal with each of the criteria composed of faculty and staff. One such committee, the Co-Curricular group, met on Friday 9/30 to further develop our Co-Curricular Assessment plan. On Monday 10/3, we had a student forum in the SUB to answer student probation questions. It was well attended and we had a good discussion. On Wednesday 10/5, VPFA Baca and I had our final listening on the new Budget Process. On Friday 10/7, we’ll be screening a webinar titled “6 Dimensions of Implementing Strategic Plans” in Sininger 100. Finally, we have a direct e-mail for any HLC related questions: HLCinfo@nmhu.edu.

9/30/16: This Week in HLC Accreditation: Dr. Kempner visited the NMHU Albuquerque Center on Wednesday to speak with Faculty about Center issues, a major area of our HLC Probation. A forum has been scheduled for students on Monday October 3rd to discuss the implications of probation. The Retention Advisory Council met on Thursday morning to discuss our retention initiatives; they continue to work with Ruffalo Noel Levitz to improve our retention efforts, another prime area of HLC concern. Finally, the senior NMHU administration has committed to meeting every two weeks to address our accreditation concerns. This group will consist of President Sam Minner, VPAA-Provost Carol Linder, VP-SEM Edward Martinez, VPFA Max Baca, Dean of Students Kimberly Blea, and Director of HLC Accreditation Brandon Kempner.

9/23/16: This Week in HLC Accreditation: The focus this week has been on communicating with the campus community about the HLC probation. Dr. Brandon Kempner took the reigns as Director of HLC Accreditation on Monday and moved into his office in 104 Rogers. He will be the point-person on all HLC issues, coordinating, overseeing, and ensuring the quality of all our HLC efforts. In this capacity, he will be a direct report to the President. On Sunday, Dr. Kempner attended the Student Senate to talk with students about the probation and Highlands’ next steps. On Monday, Dr. Minner and Dr. Kempner held a campus forum with faculty, staff, and students about the accreditation issues. Another student forum has been scheduled for Monday October 3rd to further discussions these issues. An Accreditation FAQs was created on the main NMHU webpage and a global Student FAQs was sent to all students. All members of the campus community should familiarize themselves with our 9 probation areas; these can be found in the HLC’s Action Letter. We remain 100% committed to addressing each and every one of these concerns, and we will use this probation as a means of strengthen Highlands for the future.