NMSU Has Lost More Than 130 Professors in 13 Years: Part 14

Concluding this series are suggestions from former faculty members, a higher education researcher, and faculty-conducted studies as to how to improve faculty retention at NMSU.

By Billy Huntsman

Managing Editor

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.

NMSU Has Lost More Than 130 Professors in 13 Years: Part 13

NMSU Provost Dan Howard talks about what is being done to improve faculty retention at NMSU.

By Billy Huntsman

Managing Editor

This is the 13th installment in The Round Up/Oncore Magazine‘s 14-part series investigating professor turnover at NMSU.

What is being done?

The 2009-2010 Provost’s Project found participants wanted to increase their grant-seeking efforts, in order to conduct more research, but felt hampered by administrative offices associated with grant distribution.

“It can be difficult to manage grants at NMSU: hiring, and paying people, tracking budgets, disbursing funds–all are perceived as bewildering and difficult,” the report reads.

One such office frequently mentioned by participants in the focus groups was Human Resources, some of whose rules “are in opposition to funding agency rules, which can put grant recipients at risk with funding agencies.”

The respondents said they wanted such offices to serve as resources and aides in furthering the research goals of professors and of the university, the report reads.

In relation to this, Provost Dan Howard said this year NMSU has started offering bridge funding to professors who are in between grants.

“That is something that we will increasingly offer faculty that are between grants as a way of helping them understand how important we view their research,” Howard says.

Participants in Christine Eber’s study as to why professors leave NMSU further said deans, the provost, and the president need to get involved in negotiations with faculty members who make it known they are thinking about leaving NMSU.

This aligns with another initiative NMSU has recently undertaken to address faculty retention.

“Every single department head had to go this summer to an all-day training session,” Howard says. “The core of that training session was devoted to how do you build strong communities at New Mexico State?”

Though the majority of Eber’s respondents and TRU/OM’s interviews did not cite salary as a reason for their leaving, Howard says also over the last four years, faculty salaries have been significantly adjusted.

“Millions of dollars invested in faculty pay,” Howard says.

NMSU Has Lost More Than 130 Professors in 13 Years: Part 12

We’ve examined why professors leave NMSU, now we examine why they stay.

By Billy Huntsman

Managing Editor

This is the 12th installment in The Round Up/Oncore Magazine‘s 14-part series investigating professor turnover at NMSU.

Reasons for staying

“Specifically, this document deals with faculty retention by focusing on what has brought people to NMSU, and what keeps them here,” the 2009-2010 Provost’s Project “Nuestro Corazón: Growing With NMSU” reads.

The research methods for this report included open-ended questions given by a team of 12 NMSU professors to 19 NMSU professor-participants, 53 percent of whom were men.  Most (84 percent) were White/non-Hispanic, while the remainder identified as Latino-Mexican American.  The majority (26 percent) of the participants were from the College of Arts and Sciences, while the least (five percent each) number of participants were from the Colleges of Business and Health and Social Services.  Ninety-five percent of the participants reported being tenured.

Throughout Spring 2009, these 19 professors met in focus groups to discuss what factors kept them at NMSU, and what areas need improvement.

Despite the fact that some of the respondents in this study described their departments as “corrupt,” “dysfunctional,” mismanaged,” “stressed,” “isolated,” and chaotic,” these obviously were not so compelling reasons as to force them to leave the university.   The factors that keep professors at NMSU include:

  • The university’s mission

“Many faculty members felt the university’s land-grant mission was both compelling and appealing,” the report reads.

The report says one faculty member admired the way “the university provided New Mexicans with the materials and tools to help them develop and grow,” while another was impressed to see full professors, who had “nothing to prove,” doing community service.

  • Student population

Respondents in the report also said NMSU’s “unique” student population was a factor that kept them here.

“A number of faculty members reported feeling at home at NMSU because of its heterogeneity,” the report reads, going on to cite the “ethnic, linguistic, and economic student diversity” as “a major institutional strength.”

Because a large number of NMSU students are first-generation college students, “Their levels of preparation are often sub-par, and it challenges the faculty to be more engaged in shaping their learning processes.”

This section of the report features a number of faculty members saying there are numerous challenges in helping such first-generation college students succeed.

“However, when we are successful it creates a sense of accomplishment and is gratifying to know we made a difference in the life of a given student,” the report reads.

  • Institution size

The small size of NMSU was seen as a positive factor by participants in the study.

“The school allows for a more comfortable balance between work and personal life,” the report reads.

One respondent in the focus groups said he/she liked working at the university because employees are “not just a cog in the machine” and that the university is “big enough to have the resources to meet our needs.”

Further, the low faculty-to-student ratio “allows for greater and closer interaction and collaboration between faculty and undergraduates.”

Some respondents said their departments had “a family atmosphere” and there was “less territoriality at NMSU.”

  • Accommodations for dual-career couples

Eber’s earlier 2008 report cited a formal policy of hiring faculty spouses, should they be eligible, would help with faculty retention at NMSU.

The 2009 focus groups had “a few faculty members” mention a willingness on the university’s part to accommodate dual-career couples.

“Although there has been inconsistency in addressing this issue, it clearly fosters good morale” and “engenders loyalty and appreciation” from faculty members, the report reads.

  • Collegiality and collaboration

Elaborating on the family atmosphere theme, the report found several respondents appreciated the personal bonds they had developed with departmental colleagues, creating a network of support in times of personal difficulties.

A respondent described his department as “a haven.”

Respondents also reported being able to disagree professionally with colleagues, while still remaining friendly personally.

“Not only was collegiality seen as a factor underlying faculty retention, but it was also viewed as a means of fostering enduring loyalty to the department and to the university,” the report reads.

  • Freedom to engage in teaching, service, and scholarship

As one participant said, “(At NMSU) People let you do your work and try not to get in your business.”

Such a lack of restriction, the report found, “fostered a greater personal investment in NMSU as an institution.”

Respondents “overwhelmingly” reported feeling as though they could set their own paths in regards to teaching, scholarship, and service.

  • Access to facilities

Small “perks,” such as “unlimited or inexpensive access to athletic facilities on campus to provide a health and family-friendly setting” help “offset our lower salaries and constitute an important feature of the NMSU experience,” the report reads.

  • The region

All of the focus group respondents reported enjoying the city of Las Cruces, the wider geographic environment, as well as the NMSU campus.

“One participant expressed that our close proximity to the border, being an Hispanic-serving institution, and having a Native American population ‘all give openings for grants,'” the report reads.

Further, Las Cruces is seen as a good place to raise a family, as it is safe and affordable.

“‘I stay here for everything but the money,'” the report quotes one respondent.

NMSU Has Lost More Than 130 Professors in 13 Years: Part 11

NMSU Provost Dan Howard responds to claims NMSU does not do enough to retain professors.

By Billy Huntsman

Managing Editor

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.

NMSU has lost more than 130 professors in 13 years: Part 10

In January 2015, NMSU distributed a written response in answer to allegations of, among others, lack of diversity and rampant discrimination on campus.

By Billy Huntsman

Managing Editor

This is the 10th installment in The Round Up/Oncore Magazine‘s 14-part series investigating professor turnover at NMSU.

Issue of diversity at NMSU?

Robert Durán, formerly in NMSU’s Criminal Justice Depatment, in 2012 conducted research for NMSU’s Hispanic Faculty Staff Caucus.

“We were just interested in what the proportion of Hispanic, Native American, African American, White faculty were on (the main) NMSU campus,” Durán says.

To do this, Durán collected information on faculty members’ race/ethnicity, gender, rank, and income. Race and ethnicity were determined via departmental pictures, curriculum vitae, surnames, backgrounds, and group memberships. Salaries for assistant, associate, and full professors were the only rankings compared.

His findings were:

  1. Of 587 tenured or tenure-track faculty on NMSU’s main campus (in 2012):
  • 70 percent were White
  • 14 percent were Hispanic
  • 11 percent were Asian
  • 7 percent were Black
  • .05 percent were Native American
  • 5 percent were unknown
  1. White faculty at NMSU numbered 412, or 70 percent (in 2012):
  • Male/female ratio: 66:34 percent
  • Salaries range from $45,841-$155,767
  • Mean salary: $76,362
  • Of 51 departments studied, 51 had White faculty members
  1. Hispanic faculty at NMSU numbered 83, or 14.3 percent (in 2012):
  • Male/female ratio: 48:52 percent
  • Salaries range from $47,580-$113,433
  • Mean salary: $70,101
  • Of 51 departments, 35 have Latino/a faculty members, with some “historical exclusion”
  1. Departments with no faculty members of color (in 2012):
  • Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business (with 14 total faculty members)
  • Anthropology (9)
  • Astronomy (10)
  • Business (19)
  • Communication Studies (6)
  • Creative Media (4)
  • Engineering Technology (11)
  • Geography (7)
  • Human Performance (8)
  • Journalism (6)
  • Management (12)
  • Math (21)
  • Philosophy (5)
  • Psychology (12)
  • School of Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management (6)
  • Sociology (7)
  • Theatre Arts (3)

Durán’s conclusions:

  • Hispanic faculty are underpaid and concentrated in assistant or associate professor positions
  • White faculty are more likely to be administrators, department heads, directors, deans, provosts, presidents.

Durán presented this PowerPoint during Hispanic Heritage Month in September 2013.

“They (the administration) all took it and looked at it, but they were really vague if anything would be done with it,” Durán told Richard Jackoway in the article “Land of Disenchantment” in the December 2014 issue of Insight into Diversity, a magazine and website focusing on issues in higher education.

In short, the article, which interviewed several current and former NMSU faculty and administrators, speculates as to a lack of diversity and even hostility toward diverse individuals at NMSU.

The article prompted NMSU to disseminate a side-by-side analysis, responding to many of the claims made in the article.

Among the allegations the analysis responded to:

  • The NMSU campus is hostile to minorities

“NMSU is not hostile to minorities,” reads the university’s response. “Since 2012, three of the five members of New Mexico State University’s Board of Regents have been Hispanic. Additionally, NMSU’s past three student body presidents have been Hispanic.”

  • NMSU’s faculty lacks diversity

“As part of NMSU’s strategic plan, Vision 2020, the university has identified a number of goals and key performance indicators to judge whether the goals are being met,” reads NMSU’s response. “Goal 2 for Vision 2020 covers diversity and internationalization. Specifically, NMSU will provide a diverse academic environment supportive of a global society. According to key performance indicator 7, New Mexico State University has the second-most diverse faculty of our peer institutions, behind only the University of Texas at El Paso.”

The response also mentions the then-recent Performance Effectiveness Report of New Mexico Universities, which lists NMSU as having 15.5 percent Hispanic faculty, while peer institutions UNM and NMT were listed as having 12.1 and 6.7 percent respectively.

diversity pic

“According to President Carruthers, the issue with faculty diversity nationwide is that there are small pools of diverse candidates from which many universities are searching,” the response continues. “While he was New Mexico’s governor, Carruthers helped to start a program where the state would support minority students who left the state to earn their Ph.D. in exchange for the student returning to New Mexico to become a university professor.”

Cristobal Rodríguez participated in this program.

  • Hispanic faculty members are leaving NMSU in great numbers.

“The number and percentage of Hispanic faculty members at NMSU has actually gone up 23, 2 percent, in the past three years, while the number and percentage of White faculty members has declined 66, 7 percent.

  • Discrimination is rampant at NMSU.

“Over the past five fiscal years, only two discrimination complaints at NMSU that were investigated by outside bodies have resulted in findings,” the response reads. “The vast majority of complaints investigated by these outside bodies result in no findings.”

  • New Mexico State University is not doing enough to address diversity issues.

The response mentions the implementation of a survey at the request of NMSU’s Diversity Council and agreed to by Carruthers. The survey measured satisfaction of more than 1,440 faculty and staff in 40 separate categories, such as campus culture, policies, institutional goals, involvement in planning and decision-making.

“Of all 40 areas measured, the survey results show that NMSU faculty and staff are relatively satisfied on diversity issues,” the response reads.

The response goes on to say the statement “NMSU places a high emphasis on having a diverse faculty and staff” received the fourth-highest satisfaction score of the 40 categories. “NMSU has a clear policy and a process for reporting discrimination” had the second highest.

“Additionally, a recent survey of more than 1,900 NMSU graduates showed that Hispanic graduates had a higher level of satisfaction with NMSU than their non-Hispanic counterparts,” the response goes on.


  • NMSU’s recent change in admission requirements hinders the chances of diverse students to be admitted.

This is referring to NMSU’s undergraduate student admission requirement of a 2.75 GPA, changed from 2.5, approved in 2014, which goes into effect Fall 2016.

“The proposed change in admission requirements would not impact diversity at NMSU,” the response reads. “University leaders have looked carefully at this issue and there will be no significant change in the percentage of Hispanic students, and students of other minority groups, should the GPA required for admission rise to 2.75. About 56 percent of students who entered NMSU in Fall 2013 were Hispanic and nine percent were American Indian, Asian American, Black, Hawaiian-Pacific, single races, or multiple races. Had these new requirements been in effect at the time, these numbers would be nearly the same.”

Before this article was published, Christine Eber, who in 2008 published a study about why professors leave NMSU, told TRU/OM some faculty members established a team to lead “a movement on campus for greater inclusiveness and respect for diverse faculty.” This team, with Eber’s help, organized “an important evening of testimonies from faculty last Fall.”

TRU/OM attempted to get into contact with some of the event’s organizers, who declined to be interviewed.

“There just isn’t much interest on behalf of last year’s organizers to restart this conversation,” reads the response email.

NMSU Has Lost More Than 130 Professors in 13 Years: Part 9

Former NMSU professor Cristóbal Rodríguez says NMSU handles complaints about lack of diversity on campus “on a case-by-case-basis and still will tend to blame the victim, as opposed to considering that, in fact, the university might have a real systemic issue.”

By Billy Huntsman

Managing Editor

This is the ninth installment in The Round Up/Oncore Magazine‘s 14-part series investigating professor turnover at NMSU.

Cristobal Rodríguez

The Round Up/Oncore Magazine attempted to get into contact with all 10 professors listed above. Only Brown, Durán, Luna, and Rodríguez responded (in addition to Porras’ email).

Despite the time gap between when Eber’s study was published in 2008 and when the 10 professors abovementioned started leaving NMSU in 2011, there are striking similarities between Eber’s respondents’ comments and those of Brown, Durán, Luna, and Rodríguez.

Rodríguez worked at NMSU as both a professor and as an administrator before that, in such roles as assistant director of Chicano Programs between 2001 and 2002, a coordinator for Engaging Latino Communities for Education (ENLACE) between 2003 and 2004, and director for Health Careers Opportunity Project between 2004 and 2005.

He was hired to NMSU’s Educational Leadership and Administration Department in 2009 and left for Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 2014.

NMSU’s dominant narrative does not serve working-class people, Rodríguez says. Because of this, NMSU’s demographics do not mirror those of the rest of the state.

“There are experiences of hostility” at NMSU by faculty “bringing in perspectives that the dominant narrative doesn’t quite agree with,” he says.

Rodríguez says his feelings toward NMSU are mixed.

“I’m an Aggie and it’d be nice to have a sense of pride for the institution that contributed to my preparation that was critical, both at the bachelor’s and master’s level, knowing that I was able to compete at one of the top institutions in the U.S. at the doctoral level (University of Texas – Austin) and be successful,” he says.

Which is difficult, Rodríguez says, because he knows “how (NMSU) marginalizes” diverse faculty.

Rodríguez says, during his time at NMSU, there was much conversation among colleagues about “double standards” in regards to teaching load/research time for White faculty and for faculty of color.

“I’ve had colleagues of mine legally challenge the institution for some of that hostility and some of that that discrimination,” he says.

Rodríguez says NMSU handles complaints about lack of diversity on campus “on a case-by-case-basis and still will tend to blame the victim, as opposed to considering that, in fact, the university might have a real systemic issue.”

Such experiences, or “swimming against the political current,” as Rodríguez phrases it, “really undermines how much progress one can make in one’s work.”

“Even when you try to challenge some of the double standards, you really become voiceless or even silenced when it comes to raising awareness about some of these issues,” he says.

NMSU Has Lost More Than 130 Professors in 13 Years: Part 8

“This document discloses my personal experiences with the relentless institutional racism and racial micro/macro-aggressions at both the departmental and university levels,” former NMSU Professor Jennie Luna writes.

By Billy Huntsman

Managing Editor

This is the eighth installment in The Round Up/Oncore Magazine‘s 14-part series investigating professor turnover at NMSU.

Jennie Luna

The Round Up/Oncore Magazine attempted to get into contact with all 10 professors listed above. Only Brown, Durán, Luna, and Rodríguez responded (in addition to Porras’ email).

Despite the time gap between when Eber’s study was published in 2008 and when the 10 professors abovementioned started leaving NMSU in 2011, there are striking similarities between Eber’s respondents’ comments and those of Brown, Durán, Luna, and Rodríguez.

Luna taught at NMSU for two years, beginning in 2012, in the Women’s Studies/Interdisciplinary Studies Department, as well as in the Honors College. At the end of her time here, she submitted a 14,000-word testimonio to, among others, Christa Slaton, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and NMSU Provost Dan Howard.

“This document discloses my personal experiences with the relentless institutional racism and racial micro/macro-aggressions at both the departmental and university levels,” she writes.

Luna says soon after her arrival in the department, she was told by three other colleagues in Women’s Studies she was not wanted in the department, nor was her work on Xicana Indígena identity formation pertinent to the department.

“It was made very clear to me that I was a ‘diversity’ hire,” Luna writes.

Luna says at one point early on, a female faculty member approached her and “told me I reminded her of a boyfriend because he was a first-generation migrant and had worked in a field.”

“I attended several Teaching Academy workshops on ‘diversity’ and ‘teaching difficult topics,’ only to find myself outraged at the ways in which unconscious racism was magnified,” she writes. “I learned nothing from these workshops, except how little exposure my fellow faculty had, given their deeply ignorant comments.”

Luna says no one in her department, save one, reached out to her, “not for a cup of coffee, not to offer advice or help with navigating the campus. To this day, no one offered to give me a tour or show me the building we were in, nor how to do mundane things like internal mail.”

Within her first month at NMSU, after a series of email exchanges in which Luna proposed and designed a student survey, which was later altered by a colleague, “I was asked by my chair to have a meeting. In this meeting, I was told that my email tone was abrasive and she (the chair) wanted to have a conversation with me about the way I communicate with others.”

Luna says she left the meeting “feeling silenced and put in my place.”

“I was somehow made to believe that my behavior was antagonistic,” she writes.

Another issue Luna observed, at least within the Women’s Studies Department, was a “lack of a politic of politeness.”

“It has felt like such a struggle to create community or even the desire to build community in WS and in conjunction with students,” she writes.

By November 2012, Luna had been called twice more into the chair’s office.

“I was reprimanded for not responding to emails within 48 hours,” she writes.

She later says neither the chair, the department head, nor any of the other faculty, saving the one, made any effort to “try to get to know me as a human being.”

At another point Luna was admonished for having students waiting outside her office 15 minutes before her office hours were to begin.

“I had never in my life had anyone monitor my office hour presence,” she writes.

A contribution she tried to make to Women’s Studies was arranging a renowned scholar of feminist/women-of-color theory come lecture during Women’s History Month. The lecture took place, though not without hurdles.

Luna had paid for the hotel room and meals for the speaker and the speaker’s partner. In addition, Luna had also volunteered to purchase a gift for the speaker on behalf of the WS Department, which was presented to the speaker after the lecture.

When Luna took her receipts to get reimbursed for her expenses, she was told she could not get reimbursed for some due to university policies. The total amount she could not get reimbursed for “totaled a little over $100.”

“My main issue was that in the faculty meeting (in which she had volunteered to get the speaker a gift), I was told that I could buy her a gift, everyone agreed, and if that was not allowable, I should have been informed,” she writes.

Luna says the WS department chair said “the conversation never happened and that no one said I should buy (the speaker) a gift.”

“I was essentially being told that I was lying or trying to pull one over on the department,” Luna writes.

Her experiences with the Honors College were vastly different from WS.

“Honors College, since the beginning of my time at NMSU, had given me full institutional support and access to space to hold (a) meeting without questioning,” Luna writes.

Following the Women’s History Month lecture, near the end of the school year, “it was decided we would have an outside mediator facilitate a meeting to discuss the communication issues (the WS Department and I) were having during the year.”

An exchange of emails between Luna and the mediator eventually led to Provost Dan Howard, Bill Eamon, former dean of the Honors College, and Christa Slaton, current dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, getting involved. Luna says she was caught in the middle of “personal disputes” between these three and felt like “fodder” in their exchanges.

“It was clear that they did not have a positive relationship,” she writes.

Luna’s end-of-year appraisal received “exceeding expectations” in teaching and professional service, while scholarship and outreach received “meeting expectations.” Despite the struggles she had faced in the department and college, she had published two articles, assisted a student in getting a summer internship with the ACLU, while another three went into graduate school. She served on master’s and Ph.D. committees, fundraised, and took students to academic conferences in Albuquerque and San Antonio. She served as the faculty adviser for Aggies for Feminism, organized two symposiums on campus, and received a research grant.

“I believe I have succeeded (in my first year) and contributed much to the campus and community,” she writes.

Yet she overall felt WS did not recognize her efforts, nor encourage her enthusiasm.

“Instead I felt pushed out,” she writes. “It had been made clear to me that I did not belong in WS, particularly if I did not agree with the status quo or those that were clearly the ‘holders/owners’ of the program. This year (2013-2014), I returned in the fall semester feeling defeated and disenchanted.”

She says her department had only one faculty meeting all semester, at the beginning of the year.

Luna accepted her position California State University Channel Islands before returning for the spring semester. She met with her (new) department head to inform him of her decision to leave.

“(The conversation) avoided addressing the reasons for my leaving nor addressed any feeling of loss for the WS program or desire to inquire if there was anything the department could do to try to keep me at NMSU,” Luna writes.

She once again received notification of having incorrectly used department funds to have Sodexo cater a reception that March. Luna says this could only have happened if she had given Sodexo an index number, which she denied having.

“Once again, during my time here, I am accused of somehow ‘stealing from the department,’” she writes.

Luna says NMSU administrators do not have a clear idea of the diversity on campus. She cites a diversity survey administered to the College of Arts and Sciences faculty and staff inquiring as to how positive the atmosphere of NMSU is to diverse people. The demographic makeup of the respondents to this survey were:

  • White: 69 percent
  • Hispanic: 16 percent
  • Asian: 3.7 percent
  • Native American: 2.3 percent
  • International and African Americans: less than 1 percent

“And interestingly, 69 percent said that the climate to diverse people is positive or very positive,” Luna writes.

Therefore, she says, the survey enabled NMSU not to have “to do anything about addressing the real issues that communities of color face on this campus.”

She mentions NMSU’s status as a Hispanic-serving institution.

“It is more appropriate to say that NMSU is an Hispanic-collecting institution, with the only priority being the collection of Hispanic students without actually fulfilling any obligation to serve them,” she writes.

She says during HSI Week 2013 (September), faculty and staff received a letter from NMSU President Garrey Carruthers touting NMSU having 47 percent Hispanic students.

“Very little was mentioned about concrete efforts of retention and graduation of Chicano/Latino students today,” she writes. “The fact that this university does not have a comprehensive Ethnic Studies program, nor does it support the development of this academic discipline, is an embarrassment. Further, WS was told a week before that they had to do something to commemorate HSI week and to that end they wanted to borrow (a) display case to put a poster that said ‘HSI pride.’ This was very telling to me that the university puts very little effort, attention, or funding to be meaningful in their ‘pride’ of being HSI.”

Luna says students of color are often used statistically, but are not given much more attention otherwise.

“I had personally dealt with very real issues from my own students that felt marginalized in their classes, could not find access to a person of color therapist in the Health Center, and a grad student who had experienced zero support in her Chicana aesthetic artwork in the Art Department because there were no Chicano/Latino professors (there),” she writes.

Luna says she worries about how students, particularly WS majors, were by her leaving.

“In my first year, the number of women students of color that came to me and were drawn to my courses showed me that there was a deep gap in WS that had not been addressed,” she writes. “One Black student, WS major, came to me and said that in the four and a half years she had been at NMSU, she had never had one class as a WS major where Black feminism was discussed or had anything to do with African Americans. In her entire education at NMSU, there was never any mention of Black issues, with the exception of one anthropology course that only framed Africans as subject-specimens.”

Luna says she heard similar stories from Mexican Americans, Chicanas, and Native Americans.

“I have been appalled by the ways in which the Native faculty and staff have been purposely excluded from decision-making spaces,” Luna writes. “My participation in the Tribal Voices Working Group only revealed to me the deep level of racism and erasure that happens even when Native voices and members request to be at the table when important decisions, such as the selection of the president of the university, are made.”

Near the end of her second and final year, Luna was asked to return her university-provided computer. She “had been told at the beginning of the year that if it was under $1,000 that I would be able to keep (it.)” Luna says she confirmed this with senior faculty members.

“‘About the computer, it is all university property and those that take their computers are called thieves,’” Luna quotes her department head.

Yet again, Luna says, she was accused of thievery “up until my last moment here.”

“Overall, my experience within WS has been to sink or swim—little support or access was given to me to survive or thrive,” she writes.

As a woman of color, first-generation college student, and someone who relates to the majority of the student population at NMSU, she writes, “my departure comes at a price to the students. I came to an Hispanic-serving institution expecting a certain level of knowledge about the population, holding a certain value system that welcomes and encourages and recognizes everyone’s worth.”

The reality at NMSU did not live up to her expectations, she writes.

Laura Anh Williams, program director for Women’s Studies since 2012, frequently interacted with Luna.  She gave her responses to Luna’s memo.

“The comments in the memo reflect neither my experiences nor my interactions with her, nor do they accurately reflect my experiences in Women’s Studies or with other Women’s Studies faculty,” Williams says in an email. “Women’s Studies took action on initiatives she proposed. She is an outstanding scholar who received support at the college and departmental level for her work and teaching, as well as the encouragement of faculty within as well as outside of the department.”

Patricia Wojahn, who has served as interim head of the department for the past three months, did respond to our request. Though she was not involved with the department during Luna’s time, Wojahn says the department has dedicated faculty.

“I am honored to be working with every one of these faculty members, and I have gained much from my experience with them thus far,” Wojahn says. “We are discussing top-notch teachers who have been nominated for and even won university-wide teaching awards, and a group who just this past year won the Arts & Sciences Exceptional Achievement in Diversity Award.”

NMSU Has Lost More Than 130 Professors in 13 Years: Part 7

Some professors leave NMSU because of overwork.

By Billy Huntsman

Managing Editor

This is the seventh installment in The Round Up/Oncore Magazine‘s 14-part series investigating professor turnover at NMSU.

Robert Durán

The Round Up/Oncore Magazine attempted to get into contact with all 10 professors who left NMSU between 2011 and 2014. Only Brown, Durán, Luna, and Rodríguez responded (in addition to Porras’ email).

Despite the time gap between when Eber’s study was published in 2008 and when the 10 professors abovementioned started leaving NMSU in 2011, there are striking similarities between Eber’s respondents’ comments and those of Brown, Durán, Luna, and Rodríguez.

Durán says his primary reason for leaving NMSU was a lack of institutional support.

“We (the Criminal Justice Department) went through a huge growth,” Durán says.

At the time of his being hired in 2006, he estimates there were 400 CJ majors at NMSU. The department was eager to grow, and eventually ballooned up to approximately 900 majors, NMSU’s most populated major, before Durán left in 2014.

“During that same time, we also were losing a lot of faculty and didn’t get replacement lines to cover the need in terms of handling the students and also managing committees,” Durán says.

At the time of his hiring, Durán says eight CJ faculty members, particularly full professors, were being given early retirement packages, “to cut down on costs,” Durán says. These were replaced by assistant professors, “who make about half of what the (full) professors did.”

“I’d never seen anything like that,” he says, in reference to the eight professors who left the department. “I know departments have changeover, but (to) that extreme (degree), no.”

Durán says his dissatisfaction with NMSU started in his third year. His teaching load during this time “became overwhelming.”

“My colleagues at other universities got more support for their research,” he says.

He says he noticed morale was low, both in his department and university-wide. He says “acknowledgement” of faculty efforts, to hear that the administration appreciated what faculty were doing for students, a thank you “would have gone a long way” in boosting morale.

Durán says currently in his Department of Sociology at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville, there are 15 faculty members and about 350 majors.

“Morale’s better here, support way better,” he says.

NMSU has lost more than 130 professors in 13 years: Part 6

We talked to four former NMSU professors to get their reasons for leaving the university. Here’s what they said.

By Billy Huntsman

Managing Editor

This is the sixth installment in The Round Up/Oncore Magazine‘s 14-part series investigating professor turnover at NMSU.

TRU/OM attempted to get into contact with all 10 professors listed above. Only Brown, Durán, Luna, and Rodríguez responded (in addition to Porras’ email).

Despite the time gap between when Eber’s study was published in 2008 and when the 10 professors abovementioned started leaving NMSU in 2011, there are striking similarities between Eber’s respondents’ comments and those of Brown, Durán, Luna, and Rodríguez.

Brown worked in the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders within the College of Education. She worked at NMSU for 10 years, leaving in 2014, a year after being promoted to full professor. She says such a move after being promoted is unusual.

“I refuse to work at an institution, and specifically in a college or department, that has the leadership, or lack of leadership, that they did,” she says. “And I specifically told (Provost Dan Howard) that I was leaving because our current department head (Marlene Salas-Provance) was unacceptable.”

Brown says, between Summer 2013 until the end of the 2013-2014 school year, six faculty members, all women, left the SPED/CD Department alone, Brown included, two without replacement jobs, because of how “hostile” the work environment was.

“I refuse to work for someone as disrespectful as she is and (for) someone (such as former College of Education) Dean Morehead, who allowed it to happen,” Brown says.

Brown says she had intended to retire at NMSU, “regardless of the lack of competitive salary.” She says she loved the students, Las Cruces, and loved NMSU until Salas-Provance took over as department head in 2010. Morehead spoke with SPED/CD faculty to get their take on Salas-Provance being promoted to department head, and Brown says there was much objection, particularly from SPED faculty.

“I told (Morehead), ‘If she becomes chair, people will leave, she is a polarizing personality, and people will leave,’” Brown says. “And that is what has happened.”

She says Salas-Provance’s department headship “was downhill from day one.” Brown gave an example of behavior on Salas-Provance’s part she found objectionable.

“When we serve on search committees or promotion and tenure committees, the chair (department head) is supposed to be removed from the committee’s process because she or he has their own independent evaluation that they’re supposed to do,” Brown says. “But (Salas-Provance) manipulated those committees and the chairs of those committees who she put in charge of those committees so that she could do this, so that either the people that she wanted to have hired got hired or so that their letters for promotion and tenure reflected what she wanted them to reflect, so that whoever it was that was going up, it was made sure that they got promotion and tenure.”

Brown says she and other faculty members reported such practices, which “is against policy,” but Morehead “did nothing” because “they’re (Morehead and Salas-Provance) close friends.”

Brown says she had decided to start looking for a position at another university shortly before being promoted to full professor. After her promotion, she says, NMSU made no moves to try to retain her.

“I pretty much made it clear that it was a done deal, if (Salas-Provance) was going to continue to be chair of the that department and Morehead was going to continue to be dean of that college, there was no way I was staying,” she says.

Morehead was “forced out” later in the summer after Brown left.

“That’s a positive move for that college,” Brown says.

Though Salas-Provance continues to serve as SPED/CD department head.

“That’s not a good thing,” Brown says.

Brown says if Salas-Provance and Morehead had been removed from the department and college, she would have “absolutely” stayed at NMSU.

Brown says many students were “left in limbo” by the six faculty members leaving between 2013 and 2014. Doctoral students in the SPED/CD Department were especially hurt, Brown says.

“I know one of the faculty members who left and she had three or four doctoral students left to get done,” Brown says. “And she applied to be Graduate (School) faculty but off-campus, and Marlene denied it.”

Brown says she is unsure why this happened, but speculated this was done out of “spite.”

Further, the faculty who remained in the department received excessive amounts of students to advise.

“There’s no morale in that department,” Brown says.

Brown says students get the impression the department is not stable, so why would they want to major in SPED/CD?

Despite the faculty members addressing such concerns with Provost Dan Howard and Dean Morehead, Brown says she got the impression NMSU’s attitude toward losing professors is, “Well, we’ll just go get another one.”

“(After speaking with the provost) I didn’t feel any desire on his part to do anything,” Brown says.

Brown says one reason at least 136 professors might have left in 13 years was a perception of instability on the university’s part, specifically the fact that, in 10 years, NMSU has had three presidents.

“I won’t have anything good to say about that institution until it makes some serious changes,” Brown says. “It’s unfortunate that the last three and a half years that I was there was so unpleasant that it totally trumps the first six and a half years I had that was great.”

TRU/OM attempted to get into contact with Salas-Provance to get her response to Brown’s comments, but we received no reply.

NMSU Has Lost More Than 130 Professors in 13 Years: Part 5

Among the reasons cited by former NMSU professors as to why they left the university include: racism, sexism, homophobia. Despite the fact NMSU professors’ salaries are below the national average, “dissatisfaction with salary was not a major factor in most respondents’ decisions to leave NMSU.”

By Billy Huntsman

Managing Editor

This is the fifth installment in The Round Up/Oncore Magazine‘s 14-part series investigating professor turnover at NMSU.

Why Eber’s respondents left

Christine Eber, professor emerita in the Department of Anthropology, published a study in 2008 titled “A Diamond in the Rough: Faculty Retention at New Mexico State University.” The study focused on why 34 professors left NMSU between 2005 and 2008.

The reasons Eber’s respondents left NMSU were “a mixed bag.”

Most, 18 in fact, left for tenure-track assistant professor positions at other universities. Two left for deanships, two for department headships. Interestingly, four left for non-academic positions, and another four left NMSU without another job arranged.

Twenty received substantial salary increases (anywhere from $15,000 to $55,000 increases), while three received decreases, though “dissatisfaction with salary was not a major factor in most respondents’ decisions to leave NMSU,” Eber writes.

Eber’s 34 interviews, some as many as two hours long, were conducted one-on-one, with Eber asking a series of open-ended questions, rather than having the respondent respond to a survey.

From the respondents’ comments, Eber created encapsulations of what respondents said was most problematic at NMSU

Among the issues Eber found were:

  • Lack of meaningful mentoring for new faculty from senior or experienced faculty (25 of Eber’s 34 respondents mentioned this in some way).

One respondent reports feeling as though new faculty are given the message, “We’ll see if he/she can make it” by experienced faculty.

  • Resignation about limited resources, acceptance of mediocrity and the status quo, not thinking highly enough of one’s colleagues and students, administrators feeling threatened by faculty members with new ideas and theoretical perspectives (19 respondents).

“‘At NMSU if you came up with a new idea there was much resistance,’” Eber quotes one respondent. “‘They always wanted to do it their way.’”

  • Faculty members feel a lack of appreciation from administrators (17 respondents).

“‘Administrators give the faculty the impression that they are replaceable,’” Eber quotes. “‘Fungible, as (Donald) Rumsfeld said about the troops in Iraq. NMSU has a callous, cavalier attitude about losing faculty.’”

In this section also, three separate respondents emphasize what “a difference” a thank you would have made.

“‘I got some very large grants that went to NMSU,’” Eber quotes one respondent. “‘I never got a note from anyone, no acknowledgement that this was an important contribution to NMSU. If a person had contributed as a donor, they would have received a thank-you card. A note from the VP or Provost – ‘This is wonderful’ – would have been nice. I got the impression that getting huge amounts of money is just expected of faculty at NMSU.’”

  • Faculty members become exhausted from heavy teaching loads (15 respondents).

“‘I could not do research with such a heavy teaching load,’” one respondent says. “‘I was expected to be superhuman.’”

In addition to heavy teaching loads, respondents also frequently complained of being unable to meet departmental and/or college research and service expectations.

“‘All faculty at NMSU do burdensome work, serve on many committees and lots of extracurricular work,’” says one respondent. “‘The learning curve to serve on committees is steep. The administration at NMSU keeps wanting to suck people dry.’”

  • Colleges and departments are poorly connected (13 respondents).

“Difficulty working across departments or units was a problem,” Eber paraphrases a respondent. “In the faculty member’s current position, working across units is considered an advantage because the university is trying to transform itself. There is greater willingness to try different things.”

  • Lack of a sense of community, exhibited in inadequate welcome, orientation and assistance for new faculty members to integrate into the NMSU and surrounding communities (12 respondents).

“‘At my new job I have been invited to and introduced at many events since my arrival,’” one respondent in Eber’s study says. “‘Faculty have helped me get to know the people I can work with. No such effort was made at NMSU.’”

Further, Eber pairs this problem with “a sense of people competing with one another for scarce resources, recognition, benefits.”

“‘E-mail messages describing the accomplishments of departments and faculty from the college had the effect of pitting departments against one another, evoking a sense of competition, rather than of celebration,’” Eber quotes one respondent. “‘There must be a better way to celebrate faculty accomplishments.’”

  • Administrators are out of touch with faculty members’ realities and don’t seem to care to know (12 respondents).

“For example, some staff members think that professors just ‘show up’ for their classes,” Eber again paraphrases a respondent.

Later, she paraphrases another respondent as saying faculty members are not respected by all levels of administration.

  • Administrators have superficial understanding of diversity. Racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia are persistent problems (11 respondents).

Two respondents report instances of misogyny in their respective colleges. Another opposed two male colleagues hiring a candidate the respondent felt was “sexist, rude, and inappropriate.”

Another respondent reported “strong racism” in his/her department, college, and the university at large. Colleagues of the respondent seemed to give him/her the message, “Remember, you’re not one of us.”

“‘It is possible to flourish at NMSU, but mostly only White men flourish,’” one respondent says.

Eber also makes note of several Anglo respondents who reported being accused of racism by Hispanic administrators whom the respondents had confronted about abusing their power.

Diversity issues are not confined to the realms of race/ethnicity, Eber reports.

“At least three junior faculty members in this study left NMSU because they were unable to resolve their problems with senior male faculty members who belong to an ‘old-boy network’ that protected them at the expense of the junior faculty members,” Eber writes.

  • Lack of transparency in decision-making (11 respondents).

Complaints in this area ranged from being unable to “get answers from administrators about resource distribution,” “a person could be denied tenure and the dean didn’t feel (he/she) had to say why,” and “efforts on search committees were empty because in the end administrators made the decision about whom to hire.”

  • NMSU does not offer help or services to the people of the state (8 respondents).

“After the devastating rain in New Mexico in 2006, the university did not do anything for the nutrition and food safety of the displaced migrants in the affected areas,” Eber paraphrases one respondent. “There were no course releases (for professors) for (volunteer) efforts to take the university to the people, because no one cared about this.”

Poor leadership, either at the dean and/or department head/chair level, was also frequently cited, by Eber-interviews.

Nine of Eber’s respondents say their department heads were “a negative force.” Other comments include “‘I got the impression that the dean didn’t care,’” “‘that the dean expected faculty to leave,’” and “‘the college and university doesn’t seem to care (that [professors] are leaving).’”