Campus News - September 4, 2001

Gordon addresses Faculty Senate

By Carolyn Gonzales

President William C. Gordon gave a report to the Faculty Senate at its first meeting of the 2001-02 academic year.

Gordon said that both salary compensation and a formula fix are legislative priorities again this year. He indicated that enrollment increases over the last three years resulted in UNM is receiving a $600,000 increase in operating funds. Gordon sees the resources being used in academic affairs to fund tenure-track and adjunct faculty positions.

Gordon announced that University fundraising has been successful, with $35.3 million raised last year. “This is a 12 percent increase over the previous year and a 40 percent increase over the last two years,” he said. The revenue allows the University to endow a chair, offer endowed scholarships, move forward on construction projects and privately fund major research.

“The learning communities for freshmen and undergraduate education is being funded, in part, through this private money,” he added.

Gordon noted the discussions that played out in local media regarding UNM’s admission standards. Acknowledging that addressing graduation and retention rates is “at the heart of what we do,” Gordon presented information about the three admissions categories approved by Faculty Senate in 1983 as well as providing information about the effects of revising upward those admissions criteria.

Plan A is the preferred set of entrance requirements, Gordon said, indicating that students would have 13 college preparatory units in high school and a 2.25 GPA or better including in the college prep units. Gordon said, “Ninety percent of students enter under Plan A.”

Plan B is for students who don’t meet the requirements of Plan A. For those students, class rank is combined with their composite ACT/SAT score.

Plan C provides for “special circumstances,” said Gordon who said that it is reserved for individuals with specific talents and considerations. “Only five percent of the freshman class enter under this plan,” he said.

Gordon said that in 1997, the first year of the Lottery Scholarship, entering freshmen had an average of 15.5 college prep units. In 1983, the average was 13.6. The average cumulative GPA in 1997 was 3.28, in 1983, 2.89.

Average ACT scores for incoming freshmen in 1997 was 22.6. In 1983 it was 18.7. And, Gordon said, “ACT scores in New Mexico are declining.”

Gordon said that if we “ratcheted up” admission standards, we would lose 33 to 66 percent of the freshman class, depending upon the criterion changed.

“We would only improve the retention and graduation rate by five percent. It is a marginal retention gain, but a large number loss,” he said.

Gordon said evidence points to the fact that we need to look for better predictors of student success at UNM.

In other senate business, John Geissman is back as Faculty Senate president. He said that Sociology Professor Beverly Burris is president-elect and that they have a full Operations Committee.

Geissman told senators Provost Brian Foster will be at the September meeting to address questions and comments about the UNM Strategic Plan. Senator Bob Leonard, Anthropology, asked about the opportunity to approve or disapprove of the Strategic Plan, as indicated in the Faculty Handbook. Geissman said, “There is no intention of requesting approval. I find it uncomfortable; it flies in the face of the Faculty Handbook.”

Other business included a revisit to the spring discussion about reinstating the three Olympic sports that were dropped, a response to the library recommendations that will be included in the senators’ September packet and a resolution in support of the New Mexico Highlands University faculty.

The next meeting will be held Tuesday, Sept. 25.

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