The Western New Mexico University Board of Regents approved a number of changes to policy, promoted 20 faculty members, approved tenure for six faculty members, debated the methodology behind salary studies, granted emeritus status to six faculty and staff members, and also elected new officers during their meeting on campus Thursday, May 10, 2018.
Regent Chair Jerry Walz; Regent Vice Chair Janice Baca-Argabright; Regents Dr. Dan Salzwedel and Dr. Carl Foster; and Student Regent Arlean Murillo were all in attendance in the seminar room of WNMU’s Student Memorial Building.
The regents heard the methodology behind and findings of the Faculty and Staff Salary and Benefits Committees’ surveys and, in a four to 1 vote, approved their proposals, agreeing to use the committees’ recommendations as guiding principles in the production and implementation of a revised salary process, scheduled to be enacted in 2019.
Faculty salary advisor Dr. Steve Chavez said the Faculty Salary and Benefits Committee has worked to help meet President Shepard’s two-part goal to establish accurate target salaries and ultimately find funds to make those increases.
Using salary survey data from the Colleges and Universities Professional Association for Human Resources, the committee compared faculty salaries at 150 master’s degree-granting institutions in 36 states and found “WNMU faculty members are underpaid, more so as rank increases,” Dr. Chavez said.
So, the committee set new target salaries for assistant professors, associate professors and professors alike, the revised target salary for full professors being $85,490.
“In my five years as faculty salary advisor, I’ve observed that the biggest issue is absence of sustained annual salary increases,” Dr. Chavez said.
Regent Salzwedel said that it was the regents who called for the salary study. “We know there’s a disparity at several levels and are going to try to fix this,” he said.
Presenting the Staff Salary Market Survey, Staff Senate President Dean Foster said his committee used data from the same schools the faculty study did and updated many titles and job descriptions in order to better align WNMU staff positions with the titles and descriptions in the data.
The Staff Salary and Benefits Committee suggested WNMU give pay raise priority to staff members currently earning less than 75 percent of the group median and also take additional steps to meet the salary median goal. The total cost of bringing all WNMU staff members’ salaries to 75 percent of the group median would be $944,606.01, according to Foster’s report.
With their votes, the regents asked President Shepard move forward with a plan to bring WNMU salaries closer to the proposed targets.
The regents approved the promotion of one instructor to the rank of assistant professor, 14 assistant professors to the rank of associate professor, and five associate professors to the rank of professor, also approving six faculty members for tenure.
“This group represents a hiring cycle that goes back to 2012. These are really strong faculty who now are moving into leadership positions within the university. It’s a very important cohort of faculty,” Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Dr. Jack Crocker said.
Four tenured faculty members recently underwent the post-tenure review process, which occurs every five years, and seeing that each satisfied the requirements, the regents approved the review.
The regents also granted three faculty members and three staff members emeritus status. Drs. Randy Jennings, Mary Leen and Faye Vowell received this designation, as did staff members Cynthia Jones, Greg Rolfe and Donna Rees.
Dr. Crocker said these faculty have been fantastic contributors to this institution. “Randy Jennings has made major contributions to research in the Gila,” he said, for example.
“They’ve given a lot of their professional lifeblood and are duly noted with this esteemed privilege,” Dr. Shepard said.
The three new staff emeriti served a combined 84 years at WNMU with Rees alone having given 34 years. “She has been highly responsible for our online success,” Dr. Crocker said.
The regents approved changes in the faculty, staff and student handbooks.
Changes made to the faculty handbook include the addition of a spousal and domestic partner policy, allowing qualified spouses and partners of faculty members to be considered for any pertinent job openings at WNMU. “The policy does not mean the university has to hire them. It just gives the qualifying spouse or domestic partner an interview if there is an opening,” Faculty Senate President Andy Hernandez said.
The modifications approved for the staff handbook allow incoming Staff Senate Presidents to take office in July, when Faculty Senate President terms begin, rather than October.
In the student handbook, regents only needed to approve updates to details like officer titles, names and office locations, according to Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Isaac Brundage.
The student government constitution amendments, after having been passed by the Associated Students of WNMU and by the entire student body, were also approved by the regents Thursday. As was WNMU’s Alcohol & Drug Prevention Biennial Program Review, which outlines campus policies and prevention programs and services, such as the Mustang Peer Support and Recovery Meeting.
“We review violations and make updates to our programs based on those,” Dr. Brundage said.
In one motion, the regents approved the revised budget for Fiscal Year 2018-19, the proposed Five-Year Capital Outlay Projects and Institutional Capital Projects and Infrastructure Projects, and the recommended asset disposal.
Vice President for Business Affairs Kelley Riddle presented the final Fiscal Year 2018-19 operating budget. “We discovered the ending balance was less than the required three percent so transferred funds from the reserve to correct that problem,” she said.
The Regents’ Row renovation and upcoming door lock projects were added to the Five-Year Capital Outlay Projects & Institutional Capital Projects & Infrastructure Projects plan.
Of the assets approved for disposal, some are not fully depreciated and will result in a minor loss, Riddle said, adding that WNMU does auction unused goods annually.
As they do each year, the regents approved the Resolution Adopting Notice Procedures Pursuant to the NM Open Meetings Act.
Also during Thursday’s meeting, Dr. Crocker gave the regents an update on the Strategic Plan, saying the University Planning Council recently conducted a Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats analysis and is now in the process of refining WNMU’s goals based on the feedback received.
Dr. Hernandez, whose term expires this summer, introduced the incoming Faculty Senate President, Dr. Scott Fritz.
“My perspective is that the students come first. The administration, staff and faculty are all serving one body: the students,” Dr. Fritz said.
In the University President’s Informational Report, Dr. Shepard announced that WNMU entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with a Zambian tribal leader this week. “Not many of us have opportunities in our life to meet a real king. Through the efforts of Regent Walz, we were able to form a relationship with a king in Zambia,” he said.
Walz said Zambians seem eager to enroll at WNMU. “They have 200 students who are qualified right now to enter the nursing program and others who are financially ready to start their business degrees,” he said.
Finally, the WNMU Board of Regents elected its new officers, naming Argabright as Chair, Dr. Foster as Vice Chair and Murillo as Secretary/Treasurer.
“Every regent is to be commended for their strenuous participation. I haven’t ever worked with a more diligent group of regents,” Walz said, following his compliments with a nod to President Shepard and the university’s vice presidents. “Regents come and go but you have to have a stabilized CEO and staff.”
The next Western New Mexico University Board of Regents meeting is tentatively scheduled to take place Monday, July 23, 2018, in Silver City.