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Western New Mexico University Board of Regents Takes Pulse of Students, Faculty

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Silver City, NM – During a virtual public meeting on Thursday, the Western New Mexico University Board of Regents made inquiries into student engagement through transitions in course delivery, discussed current and future programs, passed proposed changes to the student handbook, and approved a pair of financial documents.

WNMU President Dr. Joseph Shepard reported that WNMU is maintaining its enrollment and budget well. While the state had originally been anticipating funding cuts up to 5% in fiscal year 2021-22, New Mexico is now looking at cuts up to just 2%. “From a budget perspective, from a finance and stability perspective, we’re as good as we can be,” he said.

WNMU Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Dr. Jack Crocker said he, Dr. Shepard and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Steven Chavez are reviewing faculty Program Prioritization and Enhancement reports. A preliminary report based on their analysis is expected sometime this month, and the process will conclude in January. “Oftentimes, the word ‘prioritization’ has a negative connotation and creates anxiety. The other side is that it allows us also to see the excellence of the programs. We’re seeing the quality we have across almost all of our programs,” he said. The other term to notice is ‘enhancement.’ We’re not just looking at where you are now but where do you see things that you need.”

Dr. Crocker also presented the Five-Year Plan for New Degree Programs, a list of 14 minors, associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and certificates that included focuses in Applied Liberal Arts and Science, outdoor leadership, community health and fitness, and wildland fire science. “You’re not looking at entirely new programs. They exist with pathways from other programs or actually support other programs,” he said.

Looking at proposed changes to the WNMU Student Handbook, the board approved an updated conduct policy, which will now include an item addressing student compliance with university virus-containment protocols. “We have not had any issues,” said Dr. Isaac Brundage, who is Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.

Regents also approved an update to the university’s Title IX policy in the handbook and passed the FY21 Mid-Year Budget Adjustment Request and the FY21 Quarter 1 Financial Certification.