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President discusses reorganization, policy changes

The following memorandum was the basis for New Mexico State University President Jay Gogue's remarks to faculty and staff at a Jan. 4 convocation to open the spring semester.


TO: Faculty and Staff

DATE: 2 January 2001

CC: Board of Regents

FROM: Jay Gogue

SUBJECT: Appreciation/January 2001

As I conclude the first six month period as President of New Mexico State University, I want to thank each of you for your help and support. It has been a busy but most enjoyable time for us. In my judgment, NMSU is a very healthy university with strong academic programs, and a most caring faculty and staff. Over the past decades, your efforts and those who served before you, have resulted in NMSU being a top American/land-grant university.

My purposes in writing are to:

1. Let you know that each day I become more aware of your many efforts and I want to simply say "Thank you" and that I appreciate what you do each day to make NMSU a better institution.

2. Provide you with an update of a few of the changes that have been made during the Fall Term.

3. Suggest a few more changes that we need to make during the Spring Term 2001.

Some Changes That Have Occurred:

1. Relationship with the Board of Regents.

A wide variety of operational changes have been approved by our Regents that grant the Administration more flexibility in operational and procedural issues while clearly retaining policy oversight that is incumbent of the Board of Regents.

2. More Inclusive Administrative Council.

We have broadened the composition of the Administrative Council to include representation of students, faculty, and staff leadership. This Council is key for effective communications and for sound recommendations of policy changes to the President. Ultimately, better institutional decisions should occur.

3. Identification of Campus Concerns.

I have had the opportunity to visit with most academic departments and many support departments over the past six months. People have openly shared their thoughts and I have tried to respond to those concerns that were broadly voiced:

1. Slow Establishment of Grant/Contract Account Numbers.

Personnel on the main campus should be able to have an account number established and begin to obligate funds within 48 hours of award notification.

2. Delays in Travel Reimbursements.

We have done two things to help. One is that the level of "miscellaneous expenses" that can be claimed was increased. Two, intensive review of travel receipts by the Business Office will be done after payment. This will allow travelers to receive the bulk of their reimbursement much quicker with debatable items discussed after payment.

3. Slow Central Administrative Approvals of Faculty Positions.

The responsibility to fill, not fill, or move a vacant faculty position has been delegated to the Dean of each college.

4. Classified Employees Accrual Rate of Annual Leave.

A policy was approved that provides all classified employees (regardless of length of employment) with 14.68 hours of annual leave monthly.

5. Reporting of Sick/Annual Leave of Exempt Employees on an Hourly Basis.

Exempt employees are not expected to account for their work on an hourly basis and policies now reflect appropriate flexibility in leave reporting.

6. Salary Increases Are Not Based on Merit and Market.

I have asked that the Faculty Senate lead the discussion for a changed method of allocating new funds for salary increases.

7. Purging of Students Registered for Classes or denying Registration Due to Minor Delinquent Financial Obligations.

A new policy raised the threshold from $25 to $100 as the debt limit to deny registrations.

4. Establishment of Formal Alumni Chapters.

We have set a goal of establishing formal alumni chapters within New Mexico and beyond to engage our graduates in the on-going life of NMSU. Our first alumni chapter was established in Las Cruces in December. We anticipate 25 alumni chapters by the end of the fiscal year.

5. Comprehensive Campaign Planning.

Our planning is progressing for NMSU to enter the "quiet phase" of a comprehensive campaign to generate private support. While a formal goal or target will not be set for several years, I anticipate NMSU succeeding with the largest such campaign ever in New Mexico.

6. Faculty and Staff Compensation.

Our most fundamental issue affecting academic quality at NMSU is equitable compensation for our faculty and staff. On average, we are about 12 percent below where we should be, but some programs are 25 - 30 percent below that of their peers. Going into the legislative session we have a request for a 7 percent increase that has been supported by the Commission on Higher Education and by the Legislative Finance Committee. It is very early in the process, but we have to be optimistic.

7. Establishment of Provost Position.

With the "vacant" Executive Vice President position, I have established a Provost position. This is clearly the number two administrative position on campus, but the focus will be a bit more academic. I anticipate broader campus-wide discussions of academic issues and opportunities for NMSU with this change.

8. Probation of the Men's Basketball Program.

Inappropriate behavior occurred in our men's basketball program about four years ago. NMSU discovered the problems and correctly reported the findings to the NCAA. This Fall I received notice from the NCAA in which they concurred with our findings that we did not follow the rules. In my view, sanctions were appropriate and I placed our men's basketball program on probation. It is hard in that our current coach and his team were neither involved nor party to any of our violations. This team deserves our help and support as they move forward.

Some changes that we need to address during the next term:

1. Increased Clarity in University Policies.

We currently have at least three documents (Policies of the Board of Regents, Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual, and Personnel and Benefits Policy Manual) that all address university policies. Over time these documents have become confusing and contradictory. I am asking the Director of Personnel to form a group with external help to "draft" a new Policy Manual for NMSU. I am asking several things of this effort:

A. Do not confuse policy with procedures.

B. Complete this work by 30 June 2001 so we as a campus can review this "draft" next Fall.

C. Try to capture the intent of our current policies in a simple, readable, brief document.

2. Consolidation of Responsibilities.

The Vice President for Student Affairs has announced her plans to retire in 2001. I will ask for discussion, led by the Provost, to see if we can merge the duties of the Vice President for Student Affairs with those of the Vice President for Administration. The basic duties of these two Vice Presidents are normally under the purview of a single vice president.

3. Additional duties for the Division of Facilities and Services.

In my view, the duties/responsibilities of several existing departments might logically fit in this division rather than in their current organizational configuration:

1. Space Management.

It is not clear to me who has authority for space and who makes the decisions regarding allocation and re-allocation of space and facilities on campus. I will ask Vice President Ben Woods to assume this role with clear reporting on space to the Provost.

2. Management of Lands/Real Estate.

Currently the management of our lands and real estate holdings are diffuse across the campus. Please understand that I am aware that much of our land was given or acquired for a specific purpose and we will honor such past commitments. There are, however, university owned lands (without restrictions) that offer us financial opportunities for sale, transfer, lease, etc. One of the reviewers that I had on campus this Fall suggested that $5-10M annually could accrue to NMSU from active management of land resources. I will ask Vice President Woods to lead this effort.

3. University Parking and Police Departments.

Currently, the University Parking and Police Departments report to the Director of Personnel. I believe that these functions would be more appropriately located in the division of Facilities and Services.

4. Residence Hall Maintenance.

Currently, the maintenance of our residence halls is handled by a separate maintenance work force within the division of Student Affairs. This has apparently worked well over the years, but I would ask for some discussion as to the future placement of this unit.

4. Internal Legal Counsel.

At NMSU we are spending between $1.0-1.5M annually for legal fees. Perhaps a full-time internal attorney on our staff could help us solve problems before our legal issues move to the more costly external environment. I plan to proceed with the establishment of a position for an internal University Counsel.

5. Community Relations.

It is very important to NMSU to further develop strong community relationships. Christina Chavez Kelley, who serves as Assistant to the President, will be asked to focus most of her efforts on "Town and Gown" relations.

6. Division of University Advancement.

This unit has progressed greatly under the interim leadership of Mr. Joe Creed, Vice President for University Advancement. The division has had record highs in private giving and much improved relationships with the colleges under Mr. Creed's leadership. In my judgement, it is important that we have permanent leadership in this position as we undertake a comprehensive campaign. I will appoint a search/screening committee to begin a national search for the Vice President's position, and I will strongly encourage Mr.Creed to be a candidate.

One additional reporting change that I will suggest is that University Communications report to the Vice President for University Advancement.

7. Business and Finance/Personnel Office.

In my judgement these two units of NMSU must communicate effectively and frequently. I will form a committee to suggest how these two critically important units should be merged for more effective operations. I will seek the cooperation of these two units as we:

1. Identify bureaucracy in terms of layers of people or in terms of processes that can be streamlined while ensuring appropriate levels of accountability. I believe there are many opportunities for us to save time and money by carefully looking at our processes.

2. Explore all options possible to provide better, more affordable health care for our employees.

8.

Electronic Distance Education.

I believe that electronic distance education must be an integral part of our educational mission. I am open as to how we proceed and I am not wedded to any particular model or form of technology, but NMSU must serve more broadly in the State. Not all disciplines are conducive to this type of learning, but perhaps one bachelor's degree (upper division courses) and one master's degree per college should be an initial goal. I will ask the Provost to move rapidly to fill via a national search a position that will give us leadership in this important area.

Thank you for what you do for NMSU and those we serve.