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ENMU-R considers VP consolidation

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Powell says change is intended to improve student outcomes

Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell is considering consolidating two of its vice president positions.

Shawn Powell, president of Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell. (Submitted Photo)

The idea was approved at an ENMU Board of Regents meeting Friday, but is planned for a vote by the ENMU-R Community College Board during its Wednesday afternoon meeting.

The move might reduce costs, as salary and benefits would be provided to one person rather than two people.

But Shawn Powell, president of ENMU-R, said that combining the vice president for academic affairs and the vice president for student affairs positions is primarily meant to improve student experiences and successes by increasing interactions and collaborations between department staff in the two areas.

“From the time that a person first makes contact with our recruiter or our enrollment services or gets on our website, then we have one person who is overall responsible for that individual’s tracking through our whole system from the day of first contact until they become part of the alumni association,” Dr. Powell said.

Because of an upcoming change planned by employees themselves, he said, the change would not entail eliminating or firing employees.

Timing dictated taking the matter first to the regents and then to the community board, he said, as ENMU-R would like to advertise the new position, if approved, before the holidays.

The intent is to have someone hired by July 1, Powell said. Local employees could be among those considered for the position, he added.

“The other piece is that we are planning to get involved with strategic enrollment management planning,” he said.

The institution plans to hire a consultant in early fall that would work for a year to 18 months to examine and improve recruitment, enrollment, admissions and academic processes so that more students are retained and complete their certificates and degrees.

Retention, program completion and graduation are obviously important to students themselves, but completion and graduation rates are also two of the metrics used by the state and other organizations to determine how well an institution functions.

According to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, part of the National Center for Education Statistics, ENMU-R had 52% of its first-year full-time, degree-seeking students continue on for a second year in fall 2018. The percentage for part-time students was 36%. Its overall graduation rate for students starting in 2015 and graduating within the “normal time” expected for their programs was 32%. The rate for those graduating in 150% of the normal time was 41%, while the rate for those graduating in twice the expected time was 48%.

ENMU-R used to have the student and academic affairs vice presidents positions combined about 10 years ago, Powell said, although he said he is not aware why a change was made to divide the areas of responsibilities.

He added that a number of community colleges are choosing to combine the vice president positions. He listed schools in Illinois, Louisiana and Connecticut that currently have postings for a vice president or vice chancellor to handle both academic affairs and student affairs.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.