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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Higher Learning Commission evaluation teams to visit NMSU

New Mexico State University will reach the culmination of a two-year self-study in pursuit of reaccreditation April 28-30 when evaluation teams representing the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools visit the Las Cruces, Grants and Dona Ana campuses.



New Mexico State University administrators, front row from left, Provost Waded Cruzado, Cynda Clary, self-study coordinator, and President Michael Martin join with faculty, staff and students who have been engaged in the self-study process culminating in NMSU in 3D - Dedicated, Diverse, Dynamic. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

For the past two years, New Mexico State's Las Cruces and Grants campuses have engaged in an extensive institutional review addressing the commission's requirements and criteria for reaccreditation. In February, the university submitted a comprehensive self-study report to the HLC. The evaluation team will now visit the institution as part of the process. HLC team members will meet with individuals and groups from across the campuses. The team will recommend to the commission a continuing status for the university; following a review process, the commission will take the final action. The Dona Ana campus will be visited by a separate HLC team as part of its process for independent accreditation.

"NMSU is a very good university and our self-study documents our strength and our progress. We're confident the accreditation team will be impressed," said NMSU President Michael Martin.

"The reaccreditation process is valuable to the university because the data gathering and reflection can be used to ensure a certain level of quality," said Cynda Clary, special assistant to the provost and self-study coordinator. "We're educating the sons and daughters of New Mexico and through our outreach touching many lives in the state - this process is important to all of us."

Executive Vice President and Provost Waded Cruzado agreed.

"As a publicly-funded, land-grant institution, NMSU serves the entire state. NMSU actively supports economic development and provides a wide variety of services to benefit all New Mexicans."

New Mexico State University in 3D: Dedicated, Diverse, Dynamic, the title for the self-study report, was chosen because it reflects much of what is unique about NMSU and much about the depth and breadth of the self-study engagement process, Cruzado said.

"We are dedicated to our land-grant mission of teaching, research, extension education and service and we are diverse in the broadest sense. Our faculty, staff and students come from diverse backgrounds and we cherish open and thoughtful dialogue as we learn. We are dynamic, changing to meet the challenges of the future while maintaining our standards of excellence," Cruzado said.

The HLC offers selected institutions the option of focusing the self-study on specific issues critical to the pursuit of continuous improvement and educational excellence. NMSU Las Cruces has chosen the Foundations of ExcellenceŽ in the First College Year (FoE) as its special emphasis focus. This chapter of the report discusses how NMSU has addressed recommendations of its FoE Task Force and Dimension Review Teams to improve student success in the first year of college and provides an initial assessment of the results of these efforts.

"A special emphasis sends a message to everyone that providing our students with a solid foundation to launch their futures is a priority," Cruzado said.

"Our choice to engage in the special emphasis process, which not all universities do, is an indication of what a student-centered organization we are. High value is placed on investing in student success and this is reflected in our self-study report," Clary said.

Clary said other areas of strength identified in the report include the diversity of our research and scholarly activity and she pointed specifically to the service of our students.

"We have a student body that provides service that is of value to others locally and statewide," Clary said.

The Dona Ana campus has undergone the same extensive self-study process in pursuit of its independent accreditation.

"This visit is unique because it will be a systemic effort. NMSU Grants will be going through the exercise with the Las Cruces campus and our Dona Ana Community College will undergo a process to seek independent accreditation. It is an opportunity to showcase the best that we have," Cruzado said.

She said independent accreditation for the community college campuses allows them to be more closely benchmarked against their peers.

"Each of our campuses has a different mission. Alamogordo and Carlsbad are already independently accredited and Grants is looking at that option for the future," she said.

The Higher Learning Commission is one of six accrediting agencies in the U.S. that provide institutional accreditation on a regional basis. Institutional accreditation evaluates an entire institution and accredits it as a whole. Other agencies provide accreditation for specific programs. Accreditation is voluntary. The commission accredits about 1,100 institutions of higher education in a 19-state region. The commission is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

NMSU was first accredited by HLC in 1926, with its last full review in 1998. Its accreditation is at the doctoral-degree level and includes degree sites at various other locations within the state.

For more information on the NMSU reaccreditation process, visit http://accreditation.nmsu.edu.