By Billy Huntsman
This is the 14th and final installment in The Round Up/Oncore Magazine‘s 14-part series investigating professor turnover at NMSU.
Further suggestions for improvement
Does NMSU have a professor-retention problem?
“I think so,” Cristobal Rodríguez, who left NMSU in 2014 for Howard University, says. “I believe so.”
What can it do differently to fix this problem?
“There has to be greater investment and support and contribution for particularly early-career faculty,” Rodríguez says.
Rodríguez says he saw at NMSU early-career faculty members “being overworked, over-teaching,” left with too little time to do any research. This negatively impacted their evaluations by their department heads and deans, which directly affected their ability to receive tenure.
This echoes the suggestions of Christine Eber’s respondents for her study as to why professors leave NMSU. Among them are to reduce teaching loads in order to “give faculty members latitude to do their research.”
Next, the 2009-2010 Provost’s Project, reads, it is difficult to increase student credit hours, which determine funding for each of the colleges, which in turn determines funding for each department, particularly as NMSU is suffering budget cuts.
Because NMSU focuses on SCH, the report reads, research and teaching are negatively impacted, leading some faculty to become “disheartened.”
Neither quality research nor quality teaching is being done, the report reads, because of the SCH focus, which encourages “a factory productivity model.”
“Some mentioned encouraging quality in teaching more than quantity in student numbers in the rush to offer distance education,” the project reads.
While salaries and financial resources are poor, the report reads, efforts to address faculty achievements “can foster significant improvements in morale.”
“(Before a faculty member leaves the university) I think it would do universities well to seriously consider, ‘What can do we do to keep this person here?’” says Leslie Gonzales, Ed.D, a higher education researcher at Michigan State University, adding, “Keeping a faculty member is worth the investment.”
Eber’s report finished at around the same time as former NMSU President Mike Martin left the post for Louisiana State University – Baton Rouge.
“This recent change is yet one more in the series of non-stop changes among upper administration that many respondents found problematic,” Eber writes. “Reducing instability at NMSU and making a commitment to a vision and strategic plan that is grounded in faculty members’ needs and concerns would go a long way toward improving working conditions for faculty members and ultimately in retaining them.”
TRU/OM put in an Inspection of Public Records Act request to NMSU Human Resource Services. We asked the question: “What is the number of professors who have left NMSU in the last year, five years, and 10 years?”
Assistant Vice-President for HR Andrew M. Peña responded that NMSU does not currently have reliable numbers to answer this question, and recommended we resubmit our request sometime in January 2016, when Peña estimates that information will come into his office.
This article will be updated when and if we get more accurate numbers.