By Billy Huntsman
This is the 11th installment in The Round Up/Oncore Magazine‘s 14-part series investigating professor turnover at NMSU.
The administration’s response
In response to such claims as the administration does not do enough to retain professors, NMSU Provost Dan Howard said, in fact, NMSU wants to retain more faculty.
“I know that when people come to me and say, ‘We’re trying to retain someone, can you help?’ I don’t know of a single case that someone’s come to me for help and I’ve not helped,” Howard says.
This help comes in the form of additional teaching funds, larger startup packages, and talking to faculty who make it known they are thinking about leaving.
“I know that I’ve been involved in many very significant retention efforts,” Howard says.
When professors get offers from other universities, Howard says NMSU tries very hard to match those offers.
“In some cases, we can’t,” he says. “In some cases, we have faculty who don’t even try. In other words, they’ve got a wonderful offer from a major university and their feeling is New Mexico State can’t possibly match the offer, and so they don’t even ask us.”
Other times, Howard says, professors leave without making their decisions known to either Howard or their deans or department heads, who therefore cannot make it known to Howard.
Howard says, if such faculty members would make it known, then he would put forth the same efforts he has put into trying to retain other professors.
Howard says faculty retention is important to him and the university because of the “significant (financial) investment” each professor represents.
“And it only pays off if the faculty member stays with us for a long period of time,” Howard says.
The last thing he and the university want is to have to replace and invest in another professor only four or five years after hiring the first, Howard says.
Another important aspect of retaining professors, Howard says, is ensuring the sense of community at NMSU is maintained.
“I spend a lot of time working with department heads and deans and trying to help them understand how important that sense of community is for us, to make people feel valued, and we really do work really hard,” Howard says. “Are we always successful? No. But is the bottom line for NMSU that we’re trying to build communities that are welcoming for our faculty, for our students? Absolutely. That’s my highest priority since taking this position.”
Howard says he can only know of problems in departments if professors come to him and tell him. When people come into his office with complaints or problems, Howard says it’s very important they feel that they’re being heard.
“My goal as provost is to make (NMSU) a final destination for faculty,” Howard says.