Greetings colleagues: A brief update for the week of December 14.
- On Monday, I joined a small team of HU folks including Regent Frank Marchi and attended the Governor’s Symposium on College Completion. The meeting mainly focused on “meta-majors”—an approach to improve completion rates and help students graduate with low debt. Here’s a link where you can find out more about this concept. The Governor is fully committed to implementing meta-majors in New Mexico and we will be working with representatives from other campuses to sharpen the concept and move toward implementation.
- Here’s a good question…what do all successful students have in common? An educational experience that transforms them. I believe the most effective and transformative education is one that provides a solid foundation of knowledge and ample opportunities to apply that knowledge. This combination is known as high-impact educational practices, or HIPs. As Highlands faculty and staff, we have the opportunity to expand these experiences for our students. The New Mexico Higher Education Department is offering a rare challenge grant to Highlands University that will enhance the educational experience for more of our students. If New Mexico Highlands raises $250,000, the Higher Education Department will provide a $500,000 match. The interest from the $750,000 will be used each year to improve student success. Please listen to Drs. Amai, Linder and Kempner explain the importance of this grant by watching the video athttps://vimeo.com/149047609 and join Joan and me in making a donation to help fund this great opportunities. Donations can be made at the Foundation Office in Kennedy Hall or online at http://nmhufoundation.org/hu-hips-make-a-difference
- On Tuesday, the Executive Leadership Team met and we began the meeting with a discussion of efforts to require or at least encourage students to decide on majors right away. Doing so promotes completion, no doubt, but is that a good idea overall? We read a couple brief articles. Go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/catherine-pearlman/i-dont-care-where-my-chil_b_8774666.html?utm_hp_ref=higher-education andhttp://www.commercenewstoday.com/archives/4870-OPINION-Seniors,-dont-rush-through-college.html. It was a good discussion all the way around and I think most people felt that is important to do what we can do to move students through university more quickly, but it is also important to allow opportunities for exploration. Picking up another major or minor or doing a study abroad often takes more time and resources, but…in some cases these experiences are quite transformational. In the end, we agreed that where one lands on all this is often directly tied to the purpose of a higher education. Is the major purpose instrumental…that is, to get a good job? Is the purpose to prepare engaged citizens in a democracy? Is it to prepare people to be ethical? Is to produce people to lead lives of purpose and meaning? Dependent on where one starts the discussion probably predicts where one lands in regard to how the university should be structured, no doubt.
- I hope people have been following the success of our men’s basketball team. Picked to finish 10th in the RMAC, HU now sits atop the league at a perfect 3-0. Congratulations to Coach Snow, team members, and all who make the program a success. One of our players, Mr. Marlon Johnson (below right), was recently named the RMAC defensive player of the week.Remember, you can watch tonight’s game via streaming video. Just follow the links on the NMHU athletics website.
- We have some reliable projections for the Spring term. Overall, we predict we will see improved enrollment—about a 2% increase. We will essentially be flat on the main campus, but will see growth at some of the Centers. Fall, 2016 enrollment projections remain very strong. Well done to the recruitment and admissions team.
- Joan and I enjoyed attending the Holiday Luncheon and Gift Exchange in the SUB Ballroom on Wednesday afternoon as well as the annual Holiday Celebration in the library on Friday. Lots of holiday spirit and a great opportunity to share the holiday spirit with others.
- On Wednesday evening, Joan and I attended the Christmas celebration at the Governor’s Residence in Santa Fe. Governor Susana Martinez and First Gentleman Chuck Franco were wonderful and gracious hosts. It was a festive evening and a very nice celebration. I saw several of our regents there including Regent Turner and Regent Montoya.
- The last Board of Regents meeting of the year was held on Thursday. The Board took several actions:
I am happy to report the Board of Regents approved naming our School of Social Work in honor of its first director, Facundo Valdez. The Board heard proposals during its last meeting, but tabled the motion until the school’s faculty could consider the proposal. The response form the faculty was overwhelmingly in favor of the naming, and the number of emails and letters I received backed that up. The common threads in the discussion included Facundo’s integrity and service, so I recommended the change without hesitation. The Facundo Valdez School of Social Work will be hosting a public reception next semester to celebrate this change, and we were delighted to have Facundo’s family and friends at the meeting to hear the announcement.
- I am happy to report the Board of Regents approved naming our School of Social Work in honor of its first director, Facundo Valdez. The Board heard proposals during its last meeting, but tabled the motion until the school’s faculty could consider the proposal. The response form the faculty was overwhelmingly in favor of the naming, and the number of emails and letters I received backed that up. The common threads in the discussion included Facundo’s integrity and service, so I recommended the change without hesitation. The Facundo Valdez School of Social Work will be hosting a public reception next semester to celebrate this change, and we were delighted to have Facundo’s family and friends at the meeting to hear the announcement.
- The Board also approved a six-month extension for the A’viands food service contract. More than 300 people responded to our food service survey to help guide our discussion when we put out a new food service RFP this spring.
- Initially, the Board planned on approving the university’s new mission statement, but the Faculty Senate did not have a chance to discuss the new proposed statement. Since this is a reflection of who we are, I urge you to look at the new statement so we can make a final recommendation at the Board’s next meeting. Teresita and I are committed to getting this right and making certain all members of the HU family have input into this important decision.
- Jim Deisler and Karin Gadberry reported 50 percent of our student-athletes earned a GPA of 3.0 or better this semester.
- In other news from the Facundo Valdez School of Social Work, I’m pleased to announce the Board approved professor emerita status for Dr. Jill Baker. Dr. Baker started at Highlands in 1994 and became the associate dean of the School of Social Work in 2010. She retired last year. I thank Dr. Baker for her service to Highlands and congratulate her for attaining this recognition.
A photo with members of the Valdez family:
My first semester as your colleague at NMHU is about to come to an end. It has been a very exciting and interesting past six months for me and one that I will forever cherish. I have worked hard to earn your trust and cooperation as we forge a shared vision of what HU could and should become. When I have failed to do that, I trust you will understand that it was my failing alone and not due to any shortcomings of others. I will continue to do my best to be a good servant-leader here at HU, to act as I think right and proper for the greater good, and to always put students at the center of everything. I have formed at least the beginnings of good and strong relationships with many here and I look forward to expanding that circle into the future. I thank Carolina, my most capable assistant in the President’s Office, the dedicated members of our board, and the VPs and other administrators with whom I interact with on a daily basis. However, I know who does the heavy lifting in any college or university. That would be the staff who truly make everything work and the faculty who are at the center of the entire enterprise. To all of you…I hope you have a wonderful holiday. Take some time for some well-deserved R&R. I look forward to a great spring term and working with you to achieve improved outcomes for HU, our students, and the disciplines we love. To make the world a better place—one student at a time—is truly a wonderful thing, is it not?
Greetings colleagues. An update for the week of December 7‐11.
- Approximately 200 HU faculty and staff visited the University Residence on Friday afternoon to enjoy some
refreshments and share in some good cheer. Many thanks to Aviands for the excellent catering. Congratulations
also go out to the women’s basketball team who played a good game last Saturday and to the men who also
played very well. I hope some of you were able to attend the Electric Holiday parade on Saturday evening. It was
a very nice event and I am pleased that HU was part of it.
- The College Board recently published the list of public schools ranked by in‐state tuition and fees. Here’s the list
for schools in the Southwest:
|1||NM Highlands University||NM||4,800|
|2||Fort Hays State University||KS||4,911|
|4||Eastern New Mexico University||NM||5,168|
|5||Weber State University||UT||5,339|
|6||Utah Valley State College||UT||5,386|
|8||Southwestern Oklahoma State University||OK||5,820|
|9||Northwestern Oklahoma State University||OK||5,821|
|10||East Central University||OK||5,824|
|11||University of Texas-Brownsville||TX||5,928|
|12||Emporia State University||KS||5,936|
|13||Southeastern Oklahoma State University||OK||6,075|
|14||University of Central Oklahoma||OK||6,096|
|15||Southern Utah University||UT||6,300|
|16||Rogers State University||OK||6,309|
|17||Western New Mexico University||NM||6,417|
|18||Metropolitan State College||CO||6,420|
|19||University of Texas-Permian Basin||TX||6,458|
|20||Northeastern State University||OK||6,490|
As you can see, in the Southwest region, HU is the least costly school. The least costly in the entire region. The
most expensive schools in the Southwest included the University of Arizona ($11,400), University of Texas‐
Dallas ($11,806), and Colorado School of Mines ($17,353).
3.Thanks to everyone who participated in the meeting on Monday morning focusing on advancement, enrollment, and campus life. In my view, if we can get these three things done, our outcomes will dramatically improve and the campus will be a very different (and I think, better) place. I understand there were some glitches in regard to beaming the meeting to the distant sites. We’ll try to improve that in the future. If a given site experienced some glitch and or there was some confusion as to the time and or location, it was inadvertent, I assure you.
- In examining our YTD enrollment comparison (spring to spring—just out this week), we are up 2%. On the main campus, we are basically flat. The growth we experienced is from the Centers. Our overall Center undergraduate enrollment is up about 5% and our graduate enrollment is up 7% for a total increase at the Centers of about 6%. Without these increases from the Centers we would be flat at best. Still, in the 2015 environment, to be up even a small amount campus-wide (and we are…about 2%…as previously noted), bodes well for us.
- VP Baca and I were in Santa Fe on Tuesday morning for the higher education budget presentation to the LFC. In essence, the Council of University Presidents (CUP) support the continuation of the basic funding formula used in the state, which rewards specific outcomes such as producing degrees and certificates, performance in STEM disciplines, etc. We do not have a “pure” performance funding scheme in New Mexico. Schools not meeting their performance goals, but improving over time are also “held harmless”…that is, not cut. The CUP group also made a pitch for improved compensation across the sector and for additional funds to support some IT initiatives. The legislative session will start soon. All fingers crossed.
- We held the first “Leadership Meeting in the Round” on Tuesday afternoon. The VPs and a few others meet on a weekly basis to conduct the business of the university and 99% of the time, there is nothing really confidential that takes place at the meetings. In most cases, they can easily be public and the “meeting in the round” was an attempt to provide some insight into how these meetings work, what is discussed, etc. It was really an attempt to be as transparent as possible.
- On Tuesday evening, Joan and I gathered with the student “winners” of the tree decorating contest. The “winners” won a pizza party at J.C.s Pizza. As it turned out, Joan and I could simply not choose a best tree—thus, it was a tie for first. A few photos of the event:
- On Wednesday I represented HU when I attended the San Miguel County Economic Development Leadership Collaborative. This group, facilitated by Main Street de Las Vegas, is an attempt to connect more powerfully with agencies in San Miguel County for mutual benefit, particularly economic benefit. Many things are going on in Sam Miguel County and it is critically important to work together as a team. This meeting was one attempt to do that. I later met with the Faculty Senate and provided a brief campus report and later, did the athletic radio show at J.C.s Pizza. I hope everyone had the opportunity to read the front page story in Wednesday’s Optic regarding HU’s Indigenous Knowledge Center. Thanks so much to Rebecca Moore for her leadership in this area and to Margaret McKinney for a great story.
- On Thursday morning, VP Baca and I held a forum on the budget situation. We briefly talked about the national and state scene, but focused mostly on HU’s budget. The ballroom was nearly filled to capacity And I personally thought the meeting and subsequent discussion was great. There was high interest, so we’ll host additional meetings next term.
All the best my colleagues,
Sam Minner, PresidentTop
Greetings colleagues. A brief update for the week of November 30‐December 4.
- Right before the Thanksgiving break, I met with Mr. Larry Salas from Coachella valley. He accompanied a large
group of prospective students and several parents who visited our campus. Thanks to all who welcomed the
students and took extra time to meet with them. A special thanks should go out to Gil Gonzales for his excellent
work on this initiative. Soon, I plan on visiting some schools in the Coachella Valley to enhance and possibly
expand our partnership with those students. It has been a good partnership over the years, but could be
strengthened, in my view. We ask the students to provide us with some reflections about their experience.
Here’s a sample: “Going on this trip to new Mexico Highlands …really changed my perspective.”
“I liked the university and New Mexico and I am going to this university…”
“”Being part of this experience was something amazing.”
“Having the opportunity to visit Highlands showed me that I have options. I took this trip to make a
decision….this school is great. It was a wonderful experience.”
“I came on this trip with an open mind, but I did not really consider NMHU a real possibility because I didn’t
know much about it and it is so far away from home. A major concern is that I might run into an emergency and
I’m going to be hours away from home. However, when I saw the university and all the resources they have, like
affordable housing and extremely small classes, I was convinced to take NMHU seriously. The professors all
seem so nice and involved in the education of their students, which I look for in a university. The town is
adorable and tight knit. The landscape is diverse and very beautiful, especially since I was born and raised in a
These sound like great students do they not? It would be a privilege to serve them. Let’s get them here.
- The magazine Diverse Issues in Higher Education (November, 2015) recently ranked the top producers of Native
American graduates and HU fared very well. We ranked #33 in the nation the number of master’s degree in
business and management, #31 in the number of bachelor’s degrees in education, and #27 in the number of
master’s degrees in education. Some of the #1 producers included much larger institutions such as the
University of Oklahoma, Arizona State, the University of Phoenix, and Northern Arizona University. For a campus
our size, we continue to strongly serve Native American students.
- I recently announced the HU President’s Leadership Development Program. This new initiative is designed to
provide leadership experience and training to an HU faculty member potentially interested in assuming
expanded leadership responsibilities. Interested faculty will apply during the Spring, 2016 term and the yearlong
experience will commence at the start of the Fall term, 2016. Public higher education requires bold,
courageous, and ethical leaders unafraid to lead their institutions into the future. Mere managers are really
quite unacceptable these days and the all too common approach to higher education leadership‐‐‐“I never really
wanted to be a dean, provost, chancellor, or president, but I just kind of fell into it”‐‐‐is also less than desirable
given our many and daunting challenges. We must have leaders who want to lead…who are bold…and who are
selfless. I hope this program is a success at HU and I hope it produces great leaders. That is the goal.
- VP Baca was in Washington D.C. this week to visit with our elected officials and make some calls to the agencies
we work with (e.g., USDoE, NSF, etc.). I hope to make a DC trip sometime in the spring. It is my goal to have
someone from Highlands visit DC once each term for these purposes. In the future, it may be HU administrators,
faculty, staff, alums, and others.
- This is the time of the year when we carefully keep track of applications for next fall. Fall applications are
significantly up from this date last year…up 687 students. Applications alone do not result in students on our
campus in the fall, but this is good news nonetheless.
- I visited the Pritzlaff Ranch on Monday. The murals painted directly on the adobe walls are absolutely
breathtaking. The artist, Ma Pe Wi, painted the murals in the early 1940s and some of them were restored in
2002. These murals, as I understand it, are largely unknown in the art and historic preservation worlds, but are
considered very important to the specialists who do know them. Highlands has supported a few projects on this
ranch and I hope we can do more in the future. Sometime in the spring term, we’ll hold a President’s Cabinet
meeting at the Pritzlaff Ranch or the Rio Mora Refuge.
- At this week’s Executive Leadership Team, we reviewed a recent article in the Albuquerque Journal describing a
new branding and marketing initiative at UNM. Here’s the article:
http://www.abqjournal.com/683232/news/unm‐to‐spend‐198m‐for‐rebranding‐campaign.html. According to
the article, UNM will spend about $1.98mil to rebrand and market the institution. Why?…due to a decline in
revenue mostly due to declining enrollment. We talked about our experiences with various branding and
marketing campaigns and spent some time on HU’s current brand and marketing strategies. What is NMHU’s
brand? What should it be? How do we get from where we stand now to a new brand? We also discussed a
number of routine matters including updates on several key searches, next steps in engineering a strategic
enrollment strategy at Highlands, and several upcoming meetings including an open forum focusing on our
- On Tuesday evening, Joan and I hosted about forty students at the University Residence. The students
represented five groups‐‐‐the International Club, the Native American Club, the MEChA Club, NMHU
Ambassadors, and the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. Each group decorated a tree and enjoyed some
cookies, punch, and hot chocolate. Here are a few photos from this event. Note‐‐‐photo captions are mine and
not from the student decorators.
A few more photos from the event. You might notice that these shots are much better. Why?…our Director of
University Relations, Sean Weaver, took these and he knows how to use a camera. I do not.
- This week a strong Highlands team submitted a pre‐proposal to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). If
funded, the RODEOS (Reconceptualizing Organizational Design, Engagement, and Outreach) program will among
other things, bolster our STEM programs by strengthening advisement, enhancing STEM learning communities,
and designing and implementing STEM outreach programs. Many thanks to Carol Linder, Edward Martinez,
Dianna Marrs, Eric Romero, and Casey Applegate‐Aguilar for going the extra mile to submit this proposal, which
as is virtually always the case, in addition to their regular duties. Well done to all. If HHMI has any sense, this
proposal will be funded.
- On Wednesday I attended the very moving memorial service for Professor John MaGahie. John was a
beloved teacher‐scholar on our campus and he powerfully touched the lives of so many of his colleagues and
students. One gentleman who spoke at the service noted how John shared his knowledge and expertise with
people (as teachers always do), but even more critically, shared of himself on a deep and even profound level to
promote the personal and human development of everyone he touched. Great teachers have always done this.
Professor MaGahie is among that noble group of great teachers and will be forever remembered as a member of
that august group. Later Wednesday evening, I attended a fund‐raising and alumni event in Santa Fe. The fundraising
activity was in support of our campaign to raise $250K to promote faculty development activities on our
campus. If we can raise $250K of private money, the state will provide us with $500K resulting in a corpus of
$750K. A reasonable return on that corpus…say 4%…will result in an annual budget of approximately $30,000
we’ll use in perpetuity to support faculty development activities that result in more high‐impact learning
programs such as undergraduate research, service learning, learning communities, community‐based projects of
various types, etc. Again, this will be an endowment. We’ll have these funds forever. The festive occasion was attended by Chairman Sanchez, Foundation President Bill Garcia, several other Foundation Board members, and
many other notable HU alums as well as friends and supporters of HU. After an introduction by Thomasina Ortiz‐
Gallegos, the group heard presentations from faculty and students involved in several of our existing highimpact
practices including freshmen learning communities, undergraduate research, and our cutting‐edge
partnership between the media arts program and AmeriCorps. Dr. Diana Marrs also made some comments
about her office and the interface between that office and high‐impact practices. Hats off to the Advancement
Team for doing such a great job planning this very nice event. Here’s a photo from the event:
- Several weeks ago, I established a goal for HU to be listed on The Chronicle of Higher Ed’s list of “Great Colleges
To Work For” and I am about to start that process. I have several names from the Faculty Senate and I’ve asked
the Staff Senate to send me some names. I will join this group along with a few others and we’ll begin the
process of examining the various criteria required to be named to this list. The group will devise strategies to
improve our workplace environment and move them to implementation. It will be nice to get on this list, of
course, but my real goal is to simply improve the quality of the campus environment and make the campus an
even more desirable place to work. We have many assets now including some not seen on other campuses, at
least in my experience. I see faculty and staff taking some laps in our natatorium….another place I worked
charged for that. My wife and I participated in the recent health screening arranged by HR…it was free, we had
absolutely no wait, and even received gift cards afterward. What a deal. Parking here at HU…$0. I worked on a
campus where the cheapest parking sticker was $150 per term and then all that sticker really allowed you to do
was drive around endlessly looking for a spot. If you found one, you then got on a bus to make the final trip to
campus. We have a tuition remission program. We will be installing a lactation space. Part of the deal with the
private daycare firm renting space on our campus was a reduction in fees for HU students, faculty, and staff. We
have special pricing for meals one day per week in our dining facility. Free films in Ilfeld. Many other events are
free as well. I could go on. My point…many good things are happening now, but of course, more could be done.
Some new things might cost something and in that case, we’ll have to see what we can afford. Some will be low
or no cost. I’ll be calling the first meeting soon. I will not chair the group. We’ll elect a chair and then, we’ll work
hard to make things as good as they can be and at some point, we will wind up on that list. That’s the goal.
- On Thursday evening, Joan and I hosted another group of students at the University Residence. It was a dinner
party, purposely small to encourage conversation. As usual, the conversation was far‐reaching and included lots
of good information about how the students see Highlands, what we are doing well, from their perspectives, and what we need to work on, and other thoughts about our academic programs and campus life. Once again, the students were so impressive and so much fun to be around. I hear all the time how today’s university students are not engaged, not all that hopeful, and not optimistic. The students at this dinner (and those at other dinners this term) suggest otherwise. A photo from the event:Also that same evening, HU held a candlelight vigil in memory of the life of Tyler Schlosser. More than 100 people
attended including family members and many friends. Dr. Fidel Trujillo served as the convener of the event and
many other individuals played key roles to make certain the event was an appropriate tribute to Tyler’s life. Some
of these individuals include Margaret Gonzalez, Kim Blea, Yvonne Duran, Rebecca Moore, and many others.
Aviand’s provided hot chocolate and coffee. Our heart breaks for the loss of one of our own.
- We are winding down two major searches on campus. The last finalist for the position of Athletic Director was
on campus this week and the committee will soon provide me with recommendations. The search for the new
Vice President for Advancement is well underway. Finalists have been selected and will be on campus soon.
Both of these national searches produced strong pools with good geographical distribution and applicants with
diverse backgrounds and experiences. Clearly, many strong applicants from around the nation (even the world)
are interested in joining HU and adding their talents and passions to help us achieve our noble mission. Once
the final selections have been made, I’ll send out a general announcement to the campus. Many thanks to the
chairs of these search committees‐‐‐Dr. Carol Linder for the AD position and Dr. Fidel Trujillo for the VPA
position, as well as the members of the search committees who have truly gone the extra mile to get these
searches done efficiently and with high quality. I have probably been involved in some fashion with hundreds of
searches over my career. Many things can go wrong and often do. Thus far, these two searches have been done
exceedingly well, with high integrity, and with high efficiency.
- The HU Holiday Open House will be from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Friday. Please drop by for some light
refreshments. The address of the University Residence is 1325 5th Street, Las Vegas, NM. On Saturday, Joan and I
will join the HU Ambassadors for lunch at El Fidel and of course, there is the Electric Light Parade on Saturday
evening. HU is partnering with Main Street de Las Vegas on this event and a Main Street de Las Vegas fundraiser
after the parade. Faculty and staff members are invited to watch the parade from the warmth of Kennedy Hall.
All the best my colleagues,
A brief update in regard to activities for the week of November 16-20:
- The President’s Cabinet convened on Monday and we discussed a variety of issues and made some A brief overview:
- HU will construct or renovate a space resulting in at least one HU Lactation Room by Fall, I noted we had no such space when I arrived here and I feel we should have at least one. Many thanks to Sylvia Baca for moving this along.
- I noted that our MFA presentation will be made to the Department of Finance tomorrow in Santa Fe. The team did a fantastic job on the
- The next day (Tuesday) a team of faculty consisting of Professors Kerry Loewen, Miriam Langer, and Mariah Fox Hausman made the MFA presentation to the New Mexico Board of Finance. I was also there as was Mr. Baca and Secretary Barbara Damron. The presentation was extremely well organized and after considerable discussion, the Board unanimously voted to support the Thus, HU will soon enroll students in our very first terminal degree program‐‐‐the MFA. There is still one notable step to take‐‐‐approval of this new degree by our regional accreditor. This is a watershed event for our campus. I will be hosting a campus reception to thank the many good colleagues who helped make this happen. I’ll set that date and let everyone know soon.
- Also on Tuesday, Joan and I hosted an HU student at the university residence who is seeking
admission to dental school. I am currently working directly with three of our students‐‐‐the student
seeking admission to dental school, one wanting to get into a good law school, and one wanting to
start her own business. It has been a great pleasure to work with these students. Doing so also gives
me new insights into the campus, the student experience we support here, and possible directions
for the future. Of course, if I can play even a small part of helping these students achieve their
goals…that is very gratifying as well.
- At the Leadership Team meeting on Wednesday, we started the session with a discussion focusing on college athletics. Basically, we focused on some big questions like…Why do universities support
athletics?, Who benefits from doing so and at what cost?, What might universities do with the
money if they did not support athletics?, etc. We all read an article in a recent Chronicle of Higher Ed
titled Let’s Treat the Philosophy Department Like the Football Team. Here it is:
http://chronicle.com/interactives/ncaa‐subsidies‐commentary. People had many opinions about all
this, but there was some at least limited consensus that participation in collegiate athletics is
perhaps one of the most powerful High‐Impact Practices in the academy. Athletics may or may not
improve school spirit, it may or may not contribute to a favorable bottom line, it may or may not add
to the vibrancy of campus life and increase community support, but in most all cases, it is extremely
meaningful to those who participate in the athletic competitions and others who attend the
competitions and or follow our teams. Many around the table shared personal stories about how
their participation in athletics helped them grow as human beings, put them in contact with others from very different backgrounds, and simply helped them develop as ethical beings. I do think in any
discussion of collegiate athletics that those “impact” variables should be carefully considered. In my
view, college athletics is a very important thing at many schools, including here at HU. We also
discussed the recent report we received from the HLC and our plan to respond to the issues noted in
the report, discussed the recent positive vote in regard to the MFA program, heard updates on the
various searches we are conducting (e.g., Vice President for Advancement, Athletic Director, etc.),
and a few other routine matters.
- Also on Wednesday, I met with several representatives of the National New Deal Preservation Association.We discussed several New Deal era buildings (Rodgers Hall), New Deal public can to preserve these valuable artifacts so others may enjoy them well into the future.The Executive Director of the Association, Ms. Kathryn Flynn, gave me a wonderful book titled Public Art and Architecture in New Mexico 1933‐1943. The book provides great information about New Deal projects in New Mexico. Here’s the cover:Let me know if you care to borrow the volume. It is really interesting with many references to the Highlands campus and the City of Las Vegas.
- Our Fall 2016 applications are significantly up over this time last year. New freshmen apps are up by 527 since this time last year. Thanks to Gil and the recruitment team for their
- We were informed this week that our application to the USDA to support a project to purchase equipment to connect our campus with schools on the Navajo Nation has been funded ($438,715). Well done to Professor Loewen and the entire team who made this
- On Thursday I attended the Council of University Presidents (CUP) meeting in Albuquerque. The meeting focused on the higher ed funding formula in preparation for the upcoming legislative The formula is too complex for an email like this, but basically New Mexico, like many other states, employs a performance funding model with a few wrinkles. Graduate more students (that’s the performance piece) and you might get more resources, budget permitting. But, if you are showing improvement, but still not meeting your performance goals, you might be rewarded in some modest way or at least, not be punished (the wrinkles I previously noted). The heart of the debate is…should we continue with the current formula or modify it? If it is modified, how should it be changed? Should it be purely and completely performance driven? Those are the issues before us. I also received a handout at the meeting indicating the “productivity” of the public institutions in the state. In the case of the graphic, productivity was determined by dividing the number of degrees from each institution by each school’s budget (e.g., instruction and general fund, etc.). I am pleased to note that in this analysis, HU is #1‐‐‐the most “productive” public institution in the state.
- On Friday we held a very nice ceremony to inaugurate the new Teaching Center on our Chairman Sanchez and Regent Montoya made some nice comments as did Provost Aguilar and Dr. Marrs. I know this was a major challenge here at HU and I thank the Provost, Professor Romine (chair of the Faculty Senate at the time of the Center’s conception), and everyone else who played a role in this important initiative.
We’ll celebrate Thanksgiving next week and as a result, I will not send a message next Friday. However, it is my hope that everyone enjoys a nice holiday including some time for reflection about all we are thankful for. I have much to celebrate in that regard, but I am truly thankful for the opportunity to rise every day and work with my good colleagues at HU to help our students graduate, to help them become engaged citizens, and to help them leave HU and lead lives of purpose and meaning. That is a pretty nice job to have…and I am thankful for it
- The President’s Cabinet convened on Monday and we discussed a variety of issues and made some A brief overview:
Colleagues…an update for the week of November 9-November 13.
- I had the opportunity to address the CESDP 24th Annual Back to School Family Institute and 17th Annual Youth
Leadership Institute on Friday afternoon (last Friday) and to meet the individuals who work in that program. The
meetings were held in downtown Albuquerque and what a wonderful event it was. There were hundreds of
people in attendance at the meeting and the commitment of those in attendance was apparent for all to see. I
certainly did. I promised I would visit the CESDP site as soon as I could and I will do that, no doubt. Highlands is a
leader in this area, without question.
- I met with Congressman Lujan last Saturday and we had a nice conversation about Highlands and ways we might
work together in the future. He is a Highlands graduate, as you know, and clearly has a deep affection for
Highlands and the work we do here. Our conversation was broad and diverse, but mostly focused on enrollment,
retention, graduation rates, and designing programs that result in good jobs for our students. I do plan to visit
him at some point in his Washington office. He also met with a number of other individuals and groups including
some Highlands faculty, some elected officials, and others.
- At this week’s leadership team meeting we discussed the situation at the University of Missouri where a student
waged a hunger strike opposing the lack of attention some administrators on the campus devoted to recent
racist comments and actions. I am sure everyone has read about this and or heard about it on the news. Here is
but one article on this matter: http://www.inquisitr.com/2554708/tim‐wolfe‐mizzou‐president‐resigns‐overfootball‐player‐boycott‐jonathan‐butler‐hunger‐strike/. This news story is of particular interest to me since I
know one of the administrators at the center of this issue. I also have a son who attends law school at MU and a
beloved niece who is finishing her undergraduate degree there. We discussed how the situation was handled by
the leaders there and what we thought they should have done (in retrospect, which is so clear after the fact, of
course). It was a revealing conversation with many points of view expressed all the way round (e.g., people
should have waited a bit longer to get more information, people should have acted sooner, etc.). As you may
know, this story continues to evolve with additional information coming out every day about what did or did not
happen there and the impact of the situation on that campus and other campuses around the nation.
- Joan recently initiated an NMHU knitting group. They recently met for the first time. I mean, really, have you
ever seen greater intensity (below)? A visual testament to the task commitment of our students!
- I left my meeting with Congressman Lujan in time to see the Cowboys game at Perkins Field and what a game it was. After a challenging first half, the Cowboys showed much grit as they defeated Black Hills State for their second victory in a row. The crowd was very enthusiastic and enjoyed a team “salute to the crowd” at the end of the game. Well done to the coach and staff. Well done to the members of the team. A very good team awaits us this Saturday, but in the last two games, the Cowboys have found a way to get it done and I am anticipating a great football game this weekend.
- Board of Regents met Monday and we had quite a full agenda. Among other actions and discussion items, the Board
o approved the Collective Bargaining Agreement and a clarification regarding the use of professional development funds,o approved a policy regarding requirements for second bachelor’s degrees and honorary degrees,o tabled the food service contract to better explore the service our students are receiving from the current vendor, ando heard from several community members regarding the formal naming of Highlands’ School of Social Work.
- The “Big Ideas” reading/discussion group met at the University Residence this week to discuss the book selection, Aspiring Adults Adrift. One of the authors, Dr. Richard Arum, joined us via Skype (thank you Laird, for your considerable IT expertise). Here’s a photo of Dr. Arum who serves as the Department Chair of Sociology at NYU. He was very engaging and approachable during our time together. He also said many nice things about Highlands and our commitment to student success. It was obvious he had had taken a look at Highlands prior to his time with us.It was a stimulating and highly engaging discussion and I might also note, a great opportunity for faculty members from a variety of disciplines to talk about substantive matters in a collegial way. Speaking only for myself, I enjoyed it immensely. It was exactly the kind of thing I hoped to do as a young doctoral student—you know—engaging other really smart people, the life of the mind, challenging myself to think carefully about things, etc. That is what I wanted and hoped for, but I found that, in many cases, the workaday pace in the modern academy mitigated against such interactions. Too much of the time too many people were just too busy for that kind of thing to happen. And on most campuses where I’ve worked, those discussions did not occur with much frequency at all. But, not all—the discussion this week here at Highlands was a good example. The interaction was wonderful, as I previously wrote, and I thank everyone who participated. We’ll do at least one additional Big Ideas group next term. Here’s a photo from the event:
- On Wednesday I visited our campus in Albuquerque and met the Social Work faculty, staff, and students. What a wonderful and committed group of professionals. As I think most everyone knows, Highlands supports a large program there and every single student I met praised the program. Every…single…one. That is incredibly rare, in my experience. While I was in Albuquerque, I also visited our classroom and R&D spaces at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. I met with several of our faculty and a group of incredible students. They showed me some of their work and…wow. Just wow. This program, in my view, hits all the right notes. Our faculty are actively engaged with students, students are acquiring high-level skills that are very transferable to a variety of domains and job vectors, we are adding to the energy and vibrancy of the community, and on and on. One of the things I loved about the students there is that they all seemed so excited and engaged in what they were doing. That is a wonderful…I would even say a beautiful… thing. Walk around other college campuses and peek into classrooms, labs, and studios. Do students seem excited about what they are doing? Too often…they do not. I say well done to all involved in this program.
- The search for a new AD is progressing nicely. This is a key position for us and we must make a good choice. Once the announcements go out regarding the individuals selected for on-campus interviews, I urge you to attend if you can do so. Your input will be carefully considered, I assure you.
- On Thursday, I was able to drop by a very nice on-campus event where middle school students from the local area met with some of our students and faculty. Highlands folks were demonstrating some science concepts to the kids. The goal, of course, was to interest these young scholars in science and after talking with a few of them, I’d say the event was an over-the-top success. I later attended the Indigenous Knowledge Center reception in the SUB and even later attended the Miss Native NMHU Pageant in Ilfeld. I would like to specifically praise Mr. Robert Romero for organizing the pageant event—something we have not done on our campus for several years. Thank you Robert. Both events were wonderful and great celebrations. We are doing good things in this domain, but we could do much more. I think the establishment of the Indigenous Knowledge Center will really put us on the map in regard to the study of indigenous people and help us to more powerfully fulfill that aspect of our mission.
- The Highlands Foundation Board will meet this Saturday and as I imagine you know, I am filling in as the Interim VP for Advancement as we search for a new and permanent leader. We now have good tools for pushing hard in the advancement area and we are adding the necessary human resources there to improve our performance. We select the right leader and I am confident…supremely so…that we’ll do well in that area. I should also note that we are making good progress on the search for a new VPA. Our national search attracted a strong pool with good geographic distribution and I am hopeful we will wind up with a good choice. Saturday evening will conclude with an alumni event at the Plaza. Ms. Juli Salman, our new and full-time Director of Alumni Affairs, is doing a great job with our alums.
- Finally, I want to pause for a moment to reflect a bit on my time here at Highlands—now about 18 weeks in. To say it has been a whirlwind and a steep learning curve is quite an understatement. New jobs in complex environments always are. The complexity and pace are not real problems for me nor were they really unanticipated. There are many assets at Highlands and challenges too. I certainly anticipated that as well. But, for me, working here—having the privilege of getting up each and every day and doing the best I can—not for me, not for self-promotion, not to favor one individual or group over another—but to achieve our common and noble goals of teaching truth as we know it, seeking new truth in the disciplines we love, and applying what we know to be true to improve humankind is a very rare thing. And a good and noble thing. The fact that we do these things in this particular place in concert with the particular students we serve is also very special to me. It is really why I came to this place. Our important work in this place with our students brings meaning to my life and sustains me when I face challenges or grow weary. So, I am extremely pleased to be here. I look forward to doing all I can to improve our outcomes at Highlands. These efforts will not—really cannot—be mine alone and I understand that very well. I was a faculty member for many years and I know who does the heavy lifting to improve any college or university. I know who predicts our outcomes more powerfully than any other variable. That would be you, my colleagues, and the wonderful staff we work with each and every day. So, together, I am confident we will continue to do good things here and improve outcomes. I thank you for the very warm welcome you have shown me over the last couple months and I look forward to working together to do great things for our students and the institution we love.Hope to see some folks at the game on Saturday.All the best,Sam Minner,President
Greetings colleagues. A brief update for the week of November 2-6.
- I spent Monday and Tuesday in South Dakota at the annual RMAC conference. I was joined there by Interim
Athletic Directors Gadberry and Deisler as well as our student representative to this annual meeting. It was a
productive session with relatively few controversial issues discussed. I am pleased to report that the RMAC is
very strong, in my view, fiscally sound, and very well managed and led. Here is an infographic the Commissioner
shared at the meeting. Particularly note the RMAC’s relatively low conference dues and the number of associate
members in the conference.
- I spent Monday and Tuesday in South Dakota at the annual RMAC conference. I was joined there by Interim
- Secretary Damron was on our campus this week. I had lunch with her and we discussed a number of important higher education issues generally as well as specific issues relative to HU. Much of our discussion focused on getting more students to Highlands, retaining and graduating them, and economic development. She also met with President Kempner and a few additional faculty, the VPs, several students, several staff members, and others. Thanks to all who took time out of their busy days to speak with her. In addition to President Kempner, this includes Douglas Main, Cheryl Zebrowski, Edward Martinez, Kim Blea, Elizabeth Ratzlaff, Yvette Wilkes, Joe Dominguez, John Ramon Vigil, Destiny Pacheco, Marcus Garcia, Regent LouElla Montoya, Regent Ryan Armijo Andrews, and Senator Tomas Salazar. She said many nice things about Highlands and our efforts to serve students well at an affordable cost.
- The November Coffee with the President was held on Thursday. There was a good crowd and I thought a very good discussion. Thanks to all who attended.
- Joan and I hosted another student dinner on Thursday evening and once again, the students were so impressive. The group had many positive things to say about NMHU and shared many of their dreams and hopes for the future. Of course, they also shared many ideas for improving our institution, the programs we have here, and our various services and offices. As usual, I listened carefully and will take the actions I think are appropriate and possible to make improvements. As you may know, my wife is a fierce knitter and tonight (Friday) she’ll host a group of students at the University Residence who expressed an interest in learning how to knit.
- I was so pleased to learn that Main Street de Las Vegas was recently awarded a $50,000 grant from the New Mexico Economic Development Department to fund an infrastructure project on Railroad Avenue. This design project will involve the community in planning way finding, lighting improvements, public art, and other enhancements near the train station and the Castaneda. My colleagues, if we can someway and somehow build an attractive and welcoming thoroughfare from the Castenada to the Plaza (which, I should note, will run right through our campus), it will be a huge win-win. The city will benefit. The campus will as well.
- This Saturday, I will have lunch here in Las Vegas with Congressman Lujan and later see the Cowboys play Black Hills State at Perkins. I hope you can attend the game and root the Cowboys on to build upon their victory last week at Chadron. I also hope to see many faculty, staff, and students at the Requiem Mass in C Minor on Sunday (3 p.m.). I should note that this event is free to students.
- All the best my colleagues,Sam Minner,President
A brief update for the week of October 26-October 30.
- Several individuals have approached me about watching the Cowboys play when the team is out of town. Just go to the Cowboys football site (http://www.nmhucowboys.com/index.aspx?path=football) and click on the live streaming button. If you have a decent connection, that’s it.
- On Monday I attended the Council of University Presidents (CUP) meeting in Albuquerque. I was joined there by VP Baca and Regent Marchi. The discussion focused exclusively on the funding formula. In essence, most presidents endorsed the existing formula with the possibility of a few tweaks to reward institutions making progress toward their goals even if they have not actually achieved them in full. It was a good discussion and at this point, it looks like Highlands should fare pretty well. But, much more is ahead of us before anything is certain. I’ll keep folks posted as things progress.
- At Tuesday’s Executive Leadership team meeting we discussed handling conflict and read a short piece from Forbes magazine. Here it is: http://www.forbes.com/sites/victorlipman/2013/04/03/how-to-manage-conflict-at-work/. We discussed how we handled conflict, if we thought work conflict was a significant problem for us, and what, if anything, we might do to manage conflict in a healthier way. It was a very revealing conversation and people shared many personal…I would say profound…perceptions about conflict, how they handled it well (or not), and how much it bothered them. Major takeaways included the following (from my perspective): (1) conflict in our jobs is probably inevitable—we work in a dynamic and very challenging environment filled with smart people who often have very different ideas about what to do, how to do it, etc. and the faster and more powerfully we accept that, the better, (2) conflict of various types—people getting angry with someone, saying mean things about someone (true or not), etc.—bothered most people to at least some degree (some more than others) and those who denied it may not be totally realistic about that point of view, and (3) there are better and worse ways to deal with conflict. I really liked what the author of the Forbes piece had to say about not focusing, when it comes to conflict, so much on “winning” the argument or the disagreement. In speaking of managers, he stated that, “Management’s role is not to defeat the enemy…but to elicit optimal performance from the area you’re managing.” In academic terms, I interpret this to mean that chairs, deans, and other administrators should not focus on prevailing when it comes to some conflict (“winning”), but rather to effectively work with others to achieve the ideals—I would say the noble ideals—of the academy and our shared purpose. There are but three, in my view. Those are to teach truth as we know it, to make new knowledge in the disciplines we love, and to employ what we believe to be true to make the world a better place. If we are true to those ideals, we help our students graduate to lead lives of purpose and deep meaning including a good first destination landing (a good job or placement in a good graduate program) and a successful career and life thereafter. There is not much about “winning” in those ideals and administrators (or anyone else in the organization for that matter) who see the resolution of conflicts as counting up the “winners” and “losers” are not very good leaders—my two cents only and reasonable people might disagree with me. We discussed other business at the leadership team meeting including:
- updates on learning outcomes, the strategic plan, evaluation of contingent faculty, and other issues in preparation for what everyone assumes will be a monitoring requirement from HLC,
- an update on our efforts to raise funds to support our Endowment application to the state—basically, if we raise 250K we’ll get 500K from the state. This endowment will go toward faculty development activities to promote high-impact practices like learning communities, undergraduate research, etc.,
- an update on some key searches (Athletic Director, Vice President for Advancement, several deans (I should note that as of the date of this meeting, we’ve received 38 application for the Dean of Business, Media, and Technology and 27 applications for the Dean of Education),
- preparation for the upcoming board meeting, and
- further discussion on a revision of the distribution scheme for indirect costs. In regard to that item, I’ve had a few conversations about this, but in the event you are not aware of what’s going on here—here’s the scoop. Several people approached me in my first few months here about revising the approach we use when it comes to distributing indirect costs. I’ve done this kind of thing several times in my career and I started to establish a small group to look at this and make some recommendations. Fortunately, before I took that action, I was informed that a faculty group had already completed that work and that some recommendations had already been made. So, I got the report and started there. I met with Mike Petronis about this and he got me up to speed. The Executive Leadership Team took this matter up this week, but several folks needed more reflection and or information before they were comfortable taking any action. On Wednesday, Mike, Linda, Teresita, Max, and I met to discuss this further and clearly, from my perspective at least, people did not share a common understanding about how things work now. So, I asked Max to get some additional information—how things works now, where the money goes, etc. After he does that, the group will meet again and hash things out. Once I am comfortable with a recommendation, I’ll send it over to the Faculty Senate and let them debate it. My position—once I am comfortable that we are covering the additional expenses associated with the grant from a university-wide perspective, the faculty are free to decide on the other distributions (e.g., how much goes to the PI, how much goes to the College, etc.).
- We are working on providing our students with regularly scheduled bus/van trips to popular local destinations (e.g., Wal Mart, etc.). I hope this comes to pass. Many thanks to Dr. Trujillo for leading this effort.
- On Wednesday, I met with the team members who travelled to Evergreen College last summer and are leading our learning community initiative. They are doing a great job, in my view, and it is possible that some focus on high-impact practices, including learning communities, could become a driver—a real competitive advantage—for us at Highlands. Perhaps something that would drive students to us. We are already doing a good job in this area, in my view, but could we highlight that activity even more to attract more students? Later this week (Thursday) I met with the LC team and a visitor from Evergreen College who is doing a book on learning communities. She said that Highlands will be highlighted in her book and said so many nice things about our LC experiment here. She asserted that our LC plan was the “best” she had seen. Well done to all who put this together and are working harder than they would have to work to make it successful.
- On Wednesday evening I attended the Main Street de Las Vegas meeting. Our group is planning numerous events to draw people to Las Vegas and to enhance the quality of life in the community…our next major event is the Electric Christmas Parade. After that meeting, I attended another community meeting where the focus was on the lack of quality and affordable residential/care options for seniors and elders and the preliminary plans to bring a new facility to Las Vegas to meet those needs. It is possible that Highlands will play some role in this initiative. I have been in talks with the leaders of this initiative to explore options. More later.
- I saw several of you at the free flu shot clinic this week and while walking back to my office, I was struck by how many services and cultural opportunities we provide at Highlands at low or no cost. In just the last several weeks, I personally participated in the free health screening (more than free really—I got a debit card out of the deal), a free concert at Ilfeld, a free film at Ilfeld, a few laps in the natatorium (again, free), and the free flu shot right here on campus. In my view, we are pretty fortunate to enjoy these services and programs, which many other individuals pay for and sometimes handsomely. I should also note that these kinds of services have not always been free on some of the other campuses I’ve worked. So, those before me who helped engineer all this, I say thanks.
I hope people can tune in the Cowboys game this weekend. It is streamed on our site. There is no fee. I will be leaving Sunday for the RMAC conference where I’ll join the Interim Athletic Directors at the annual RMAC meeting.
Have a good weekend my colleagues.
As a strategy for improving communication across campus, I am sending this week’s brief updates.
- It was a wonderful celebration in Santa Fe last Saturday when one of our students, Ms. Hali Andujo, was awarded a scholarship from MANA del Norte. The event was wonderful and complete with a silent auction, a very nice dinner, and of course, the scholarship awards. I was joined at the event by Dr. Fidel Trujillo, his wife, and several other Highlands faculty and staff.
- The Santa Fe Community Orchestra concert on Sunday was wonderful. I saw many of you there and I appreciated your participation on a nice fall afternoon. The program, American Modernism, was very well attended and I heard many positive comments at the reception afterward. I should note that this concert was a collaboration among Highlands, Luna CC, and the World College, Other partners included the Highlands University Foundation, the Las Vegas Arts Council, and a number of corporate sponsors. Thanks to the generous support of our collaborators, this concert was free to the public. The three presidents (Highlands, Luna and World College) continue to collaborate on other initiatives in our quest to make Las Vegas a vibrant cultural hub and a site of broad educational opportunity. I should note that we are all committed to making these opportunities very low cost to community members—free if possible.
- Secretary Barbara Damron will be on our campus on Wednesday, December 4. I am working on her itinerary now.
- The next meeting of the Board of Regents will be Monday, November 9 at 10:00 a.m.
- This year’s Fulbright Hays competition is open and I would love to see one or more folks from Highlands apply. This year, the higher education focus is “Religion and Diversity” and the destination focus is Senegal. For more information, go to: U.S. Department of Education firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Over 300 high school students participated in the 2015 College Night, held October 20th at the SUB Ballroom. NMHU and Luna Community College showcased academic programs and support units to high school students and parents. Students from local school districts attended, as well as students from Pecos, Wagon Mound, Springer, Mora, Peñasco, Bernalillo, Santa Rosa, Espanola, Gallup, and West Mesa.
- This week we hosted parents and a tribal liaison from the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian (TMDCI) Tribe in southern California as part of our MOU with the tribe.
- Dr. Trujillo and other personnel from student affairs recently participated in the New Mexico Association of Student Affairs Professionals Symposium hosted by the University of New Mexico. This year’s theme was “Rethinking Diversity”. In addition to presenting at a breakout session on academic identity for rural Hispanics, Dr. Trujillo participated on a panel discussion with other Chief Student Affairs Officers from the state and region.
- Dr. Trujillo was also featured as a panelist at the 2015 Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities 4th Annual Deans Forum, held in conjunction with the HACU National Conference in Miami, FL. The panel discussion was on increasing minority student participation in corporate internships.
- This week’s message is a little brief. I was away from campus Tuesday-Friday, but plan to be back in the office on Monday.
Have a nice weekend my colleagues,
Global from President Minner to Faculty and Staff 10/15/15
Greetings colleagues. Last week I met with a group of faculty members and we discussed a variety of strategies for improving communication across the campus. I agreed to send out brief updates of campus activities in the hopes of improving the strength of the communication network. My goal is to do this each week, but travel and or other obligations may prohibit that from time to time. At any rate, in an attempt to communicate more effectively, here is this week’s message.
- A few weeks ago HU applied to HED for an Endowment Fund grant. This competition apparently occurs with some frequency. Twenty-eight applications were received and sixteen of them were approved by HED. Our application was approved. Our project is called HU-HIPs, which stands for Highlands University-High Impact Practices. High-Impact Practices are things that we already do here quite well like undergraduate research, service-learning, community-based projects, etc. These are strengths for us, but I am interested in doing more. HIPs are learning experiences that have good potential of being transformative in the lives of our students. They have been carefully studied many times and in most studies, they are linked to improvements in retention, correlated with improved learning outcomes, and are among the most memorable if not the most memorable things students recall about their time at university. If you want to read more about HIPs, you can look here: http://leap.aacu.org/toolkit/high-impact-practices.The way this competition works is that now Highlands must raise about 170K in non-governmental funds. If we cannot do so, we will have to forfeit the award. I am working with a group of individuals to try to get this done. Our strategy includes direct mail appeals, receptions for some our top donors, a dinner (with me) for our best donors, and a faculty/staff appeal.
- Last week I received an email from, Secretary Damron informing me that Highlands’ application to the NMHED to support a campus safety initiative was approved. We will receive $75,000 to purchase a law enforcement records management system, a communications log recorder, and a 2015 Ford Expedition for use by Highlands PD. Many thanks to VP Max Baca who led this effort.
- We continue to receive applications for the Vice President for Advancement position. As of today, we have received more than two dozen applications. There is a good mix by gender, ethnicity, and geographical distribution. The search has attracted applicants from throughout the USA including Louisiana, Illinois, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Georgia, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Washington DC, and other states plus one international applicant (Qatar). When I started the search I decided to not initially use a search firm—that can be expensive— and thus far, that has proved to be a good decision. The pool looks strong. But, the search is not over and we still need to get finalists here and then make a good selection. I am working on that process now. We are also close to selecting the finalists for the AD job. We attracted a large pool of applicants in that national search. These are key positions on our campus and we must fill those jobs with strong leaders committed to our mission.
- We were recently informed that we are now a member of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA). Basically this means that HU can offer online classes throughout the US and we do not have to pay each state a fee for doing so. Teresita and Max carried the water to get this done and they both deserve our thanks.
- Last week I attended the Kiwanis Club lunch meeting on Wednesday. I think the club is referred to as the Afternoon Club (I gather there is also a morning club). Clearly, Highlands has many supporters there. They would like for me to attend one of their meetings on a routine basis and I agreed to do so.
- Joan and I recently hosted an intergenerational mentoring dinner at the University Residence. First-year faculty joined a group of emeriti faculty to discuss the topic “what I wish I had known when I was a new assistant professor”. Emeriti faculty were seated at four tables and first-year faculty were seated at one table for a dinner course, then transitioned to another table for the next course. It was a four course meal, so the new faculty moved several times and had the opportunity to meet all of the emeriti over the course of the dinner. It was pretty crowded, but Joan had everything worked out to a high degree of efficiency. It was really a wonderful evening. There was lots of good conversation and I think that some connections were made that might continue afterward. Much wisdom is lost from generation to generation in the academy and really…in life. I am sure there are many reasons for this, but I think that is true partly because we do not pay enough attention to building pathways to support mentoring, advice-giving, and sharing knowledge and wisdom. This was one attempt to do that. Here’s a few photos of the event:
- Joan and I also recently hosted another group of students at the University Residence. We had a great conversation and a nice dinner. This group included a student from California, a student from Tucumcari, and two local students. These dinners have been a great way for me to directly hear from students about what is good about HU and what needs attention. Here’s a photo of the event:
- Joan and I attended last Saturday’s football game. We were joined in the President’s Box by several faculty members where there was high enthusiasm for the Cowboys. Each of us, including me of course, knew exactly what calls were wrong and what should have been done on each play. Of course, this Monday Morning Quarterbacking (in this case, a few minutes after each play quarterbacking) is so very easy to do since no one had any responsibility for actually taking an action. We were all “experts”—after the fact. I will not be able to attend this week’s out-of-town game so I’ll watch it on my laptop.
- Joan and I had lunch in the dining facility this week. I asked numerous students about our dining program—what was good, what needed attention, etc. I took good notes and will follow-up with our provider. The most common recommendation I heard was to have more healthy options such as grains, fruit, etc.
- On Monday I called together the individuals responsible for some element of the recent Homecoming. We talked about what worked this year, what things we might want to discontinue, and what things we might add. Ms. Juli Salmon and Ms. Margaret Gonzales will be managing and leading Homecoming 2016 and you will soon receive an email from them informing you of next year’s Homecoming date, some other decisions we made at the Monday meeting, and soliciting ideas for next year’s event. Please respond if you have any input for them. Homecoming is an important event at Highlands and important to our many alums and friends. My view—this year’s event was very good. My goal—next year’s event will be excellent.
- Dr. Brandon Kempner, President of the Faculty Senate, joined the VP meeting on Tuesday and he will routinely meet with this group hereafter. I am taking this action to promote improved communication between the administration and the faculty, greater transparency, and improved efficiency.
- On Tuesday I was introduced to the San Miguel County Commissioners. Clearly, we have some good friends on that commission.
- On Wednesday, I made the opening remarks at this year’s Cowgirl Way luncheon and met with the Faculty Senate. At the senate meeting, I briefly described a number of campus activities (e.g., personnel, facilities,, fundraising, etc.) and also asked the senate to provide me with some input on two matters. First, we have a pretty clear process for awarding emeritus status to faculty who leave us or retire, but the path for faculty who have retired some time ago and for whatever reason, did not request emeritus status is unclear. Our Handbook is silent on that. I had a request to look into this and see if the faculty have any wisdom here—if someone retired years ago and now wants to be considered for emeritus status, is that a possibility and if so, how should it be handled? Second, I asked the senate to consider a modest initiative to provide professional development to a faculty member interested in improving her or his leadership skills and possibly moving into some type of leadership position. At Radford, for example, I implemented something I called the Provost’s Leadership Development Program. I asked members of the faculty to let me know if they were interested. I then basically made the selection myself. Those selected were released from one class per term (with the OK of the relevant chair and dean) and I provided them with a space near my office. I met with them weekly and we talked about my leadership challenges, what was going on at the university, and sometimes we read some leadership article or book and discussed that. We worked out some type of project for them to try to achieve during their leadership experience and I then found the resources to send them to some top level professional development program (e.g., the HERS Institute, Harvard Summer Leadership Program, etc.), usually over the summer. I brought them in on all types of meetings and we later discussed what happened, what they might do if they had to decide something, how I handled the situation and why, etc. Of course, they had to maintain strictest confidence since some of the meetings pertained to legal matters, personnel matters, etc. I asked the senate to give me some indication if they thought this was a good idea here at Highlands and if so, any recommendations about how we might proceed. From my perspective, the selection is key here and often the most problematic issue. Academics, I would say appropriately, often base professional decisions on the past performance of a person—the quality of their teaching record, the strength of their CV, etc. But, in this kind of thing, I personally think the critical variable should be less about what has been done and more about what you think the person will or might do. That really amounts to a judgment. So….how to handle this in a fair and just way? I await the wisdom of the faculty!
- Today (Thursday) I am meeting with the Foundation Board, tomorrow I’ll drive to Albuquerque to meet with a donor, Saturday I’ll attend the MANA del Norte reception in Santa Fe, and I’ll attend the Santa Fe Community Orchestra concert on our campus on Sunday. That’s a free concert and perhaps I’ll see you there.
Have a nice weekend my colleagues,