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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU task force concludes policies were followed in non-renewal of contracts

New Mexico State University released the final report from the Regents Professors Task Force formed in April 2008 to examine administrative policies and communications practices following the controversy surrounding a decision to not renew the contracts of two faculty members. The task force found that the university followed policy in not renewing the faculty members'contracts, and identified several areas in which it could improve both how it articulates policies and communicates procedures.

The task force included broad representation called together by President Michael Martin and Executive Vice President and Provost Waded Cruzado. This review was outside of standard practice to ensure it had the perspective of distinguished Regents professors with many years of experience.

"The report is the result of the combined efforts of outstanding faculty, staff and students who unselfishly devoted a significant amount of time to serve NMSU in this endeavor. Let me express our gratitude for the excellence that characterizes their service to this institution. This document will be at the core of our continued efforts to improve how we handle complex and sensitive administrative issues in the future," Cruzado said.

In the task force findings, the report stated that "The policy related to non-renewal of first-year, tenure-track faculty members was followed. However, the task force recommends changes be made to the non-renewal policy."

Some recommendations made by the task force are already being incorporated in the two-year review of the Promotion and Tenure Policy that will be published on Aug. 1, 2008.

University officials reiterated that the task force was not charged with investigating allegations of discrimination at the College of Health and Social Services. NMSU recently received Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints and is cooperating with the EEOC.

The task force evaluated the procedure for filing a grievance based on discrimination at the university as stated in section 4.05.40 of the NMSU Policy Manual. It determined that the policy provides "clear, well-defined and easy to follow information, including applicable state and federal laws, appropriate definitions of conditions and a description of the procedures to be followed, including Institutional Equity Review (informal complaint and formal grievance) and Administrative Review."

The task force also looked at the communication processes in relaying policy and procedures on non-renewal of contracts, tenure procedures, having open channels of communication at all colleges and departments, confidentiality in personnel matters and how the university communicates to the public via the media.

In its conclusion, the task force recommended:

"Based on the events of this case, and the findings of the task force, it is recommended that the Executive Vice President and Provost's Office of NMSU review the training programs for administrative positions on campus. Specific emphasis should be placed on policies relevant to issues such as promotion and tenure, and harassment and discrimination. Emphasis should also be placed on effective communication among administrators, faculty and students. The training program should be periodically reviewed and updated based on modifications to University Policies and Procedures."

A link to the complete task force report can be found at http://www.nmsu.edu/president/.