Provost's Wednesday Communique - September 26, 2012

It is far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price. – Warren Buffett (and the same can be said about a college education).

Roles & Purposes Dimension: The seventh dimension of the Foundations of Excellence (FoE) is the Roles & Purposes Dimension: Foundations. Institutions promote student understanding of the various roles and purposes of higher education, both for the individual and society. These roles and purposes include knowledge acquisition for personal growth, learning to prepare for future employment, learning to become engaged citizens, and learning to serve the public good. Institutions encourage first-year students to examine systematically their motivation and goals with regard to higher education in general and to their own college/university. Students are exposed to the value of general education as well as to the value of more focused, in-depth study of a field or fields of knowledge (i.e., the major). The rationale of this dimension is that, "Although many college and university educators would attest to the multiple purposes of higher education for the betterment of individuals and the larger society, new students often see a single overriding purpose; for today's college students, that purpose is often future employment." This Dimension argues that the first year is the time when students should be led to discover the many purposes of higher education and to explore their own reasons for college attendance. The Dimension also maintains that students should be exposed to the value of general education as well as major courses.

Student Success: I would like to acknowledge the efforts of many UNM units, and especially those of the Office of Admissions from the Division of Enrollment Management. The Freshman Class of 2012 has 3,423 students. This is the second largest ever and represents a 2.5% increase from the 2011 beginning freshmen. This was accomplished in the midst of a gradual increase of our admission standards. The efforts of the Office of Admissions, in partnership with the schools and colleges, the University College advisors and the Office of Student Academic Success, will become even more critical and challenging as we focus on attracting high achieving students while continuing to improve all students' preparation.

Budget Models for Universities: In our effort to explain the various budgeting models adopted by universities, I have come across the web site referenced below. This may help to compare and contrast our current budget model with RCM and PBB. Alternative Budget Models.

Expectations: According to recent research, and as many parents have always stated, setting higher expectations will improve performance. A recent NPR story discusses this phenomenon - Setting Higher Expectations. This was further driven home by the efforts and successes of many peer and aspirational universities in concentrating on the 4-year graduation rate. UT Austin and UT Knoxville are two institutions that have focused on improving the 4-year graduation rate, and have since increased both their 4 and 6-year graduation rates.

Our Law School: The UNM School of Law was ranked one of the country's best value law schools by National Jurist magazine. The school was rated eighth out of 200 ABA-accredited law schools, based on a number of factors. In its rankings, the magazine seeks to find law schools where graduates have the best chance of passing their respective state bar exam and getting a job in the legal field without piling up a huge amount of debt. The magazine's editors consider the percentage of graduates who pass the bar exam and the percentage who find a job. They weigh these factors against tuition, cost of living and average indebtedness after graduation. To reflect a more accurate employment picture, this year the magazine's editors gave more weight to full-time, long-term, bar-passage-required employment. In past years, the employment rate gave the same weight to any kind of employment following law-school graduation, whether it was in the legal field or not. This new formula resulted in lower employment statistics nationally and caused a number of schools to drop in the rankings, in some cases, out of the top 20. One other piece of good news is that the July New Mexico Bar examination results just came out and UNM first-time Bar examinees had a 92% pass rate. The overall State Bar pass rate for all takers was 84%, so our recent grads performed substantially (and statistically significantly) better than average. Read the full article in National Jurist magazine.

NSF Engineering Research Centers: The National Science Foundation's Engineering Research Centers (ERCs) are change agents bringing together educational institutions and industry to address global challenges. One of their goals is to create new industries or transform existing industries; another is to expose graduate and undergraduate students to interdisciplinary research. A focus of every ERC is actively involving groups traditionally underrepresented in engineering to exceed the national engineering-wide averages. UNM School of Engineering is a partner in four of the 22 ERCs. The latest ERC focuses on developing nanoscale manufacturing systems for mobile computing. UNM is collaborating with UT at Austin, the lead institution, and UC Berkeley to develop innovative nanomanufacturing, nanosculpting and nanometrology systems that could lead to versatile mobile computing devices such as wearable sensors, foldable laptops and rollable batteries. The effort is led by Distinguished Professor Steve Brueck.

Chaouki Abdallah, Provost & Executive Vice-President for Academic Affairs

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