The Western New Mexico University board of regents granted longtime Mustang volleyball coach Jim Callender emeritus status at their meeting on Thursday, December 13. The regents also recognized two retiring faculty members for their service, agreed to allow Math and Computer Science Department Chair Dr. Tom Gruzska one semester of sabbatical leave in 2019-2020, and discussed possibilities for future innovation and growth at WNMU.
During the meeting, the regents approved the mid-year budget adjustment request for fiscal year 2019, fiscal year 2019 first quarter financial certification, revised capital projects transmittals for Ritch Hall and for Regents Row, asset disposal, and changes to WNMU’s American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Collective Bargaining Agreement.
When presenting Callender with his staff emeritus designation, WNMU President Dr. Joseph Shepard said, “He’s been a life changer. He’s taken many players and helped them understand how to go about becoming wonderful members of society — more than simply how to spike a volleyball over the net.”
Criminal justice professor Andy Warren, J.D., was acknowledged for his 12 consecutive years of service to WNMU, while Dr. Robert Rickle received recognition for nine years of service in WNMU’s School of Social Work.
Vice President for Academic Affairs/Provost Jack Crocker introduced WNMU’s 2018 – 2023 strategic plan, defining it as a “dynamic document” that was developed over months. “To me it’s ironic that we look at a five-year plan in this time when things change from day to day,” Dr. Crocker said.
While the regents tabled a vote on WNMU’s Strategic Plan and Areas of Distinction, they did exchange ideas for growing and improving the university, contemplate the benefits of highly focused programs and services like an Early Childhood Center and discuss possibilities for bringing in more students through short courses and custom programs and by responding to employer needs.
Dr. Crocker said the strategic plan outlines in detail WNMU’s strategies in these and many areas. “One of the ironies and challenges of higher education is our business model for admissions. Students have only two opportunities to come through our doors — in the fall and in the spring. Every summer program we’ve offered is eight weeks long, so why can’t we do it in the fall? Let’s look at getting students in and getting started when they want to get started,” he said.
Regent Salzwedel agreed. “We need to make admission possible every day.”
In his report, Dr. Shepard told the board that spring enrollment is down by 200 students, compared to this time last year. Regent Walz asked how the projected decrease in enrollment impacts WNMU economically. “It depends on the makeup of those students,” Dr. Shepard said.
While presenting the mid-year budget adjustment request for fiscal year 2019 later in the meeting, Vice President for Business Affairs Kelley Riddle said, “An increase in enrollment does not necessarily mean an increase in revenue,” pointing to a drop in revenue this fall, despite WNMU’s increased enrollment numbers.
Faculty Senate President Dr. Scott Fritz reported on the status of the university’s salary plan, which he expects to be fully vetted by February. “[We would like to] first make a one-time market adjustment. Second, we’d simply take the rest of the money and put it into the preexisting funding formula,” he said, noting it would cost roughly $125,000 to get 28 faculty members into the bottom quartile of their respective salary ranges.
The board will meet next on January 31, 2019, in Santa Fe.