Commission to visit Eastern’s campus

Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

Eastern New Mexico University will be getting a visit on March of 2007, but the importance of the visit is signified by the more than two years of preparation by university officials for the visit.

The Higher Learning Commission members of the North Central Association will be touring the campus to conduct a report which will be the basis of whether or not the university receives accreditation for another 10 years.

A similar tour of the campus was done in the spring of 1997.
The Higher Learning commissioners will be assessing the professional development, undergraduate and graduate courses. They will be looking at graduation rates, retention rates and the finances of the university.

“The two main items they will be looking at is student learning and financial situation,” ENMU President Steven Gamble said. “We are taking this very seriously. It’s extremely important to us.”

Gamble said they will be looking at every aspect of the university. The NCA has committee members visit universities to report back and a decision is made on the university’s accreditation. The University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University and Clovis Community College go through the same reviewal process.

Gamble said if a university doesn’t receive its accreditation there is the possibility of going on probation. Gamble said not receiving accreditation would mean loss of financial aid available to students, the devaluation of university degrees and more difficulty for transfers who want credits to carry over to their new college.

Gamble said it’s something he doesn’t see happening to the university.

“We’re a very good university and we (ENMU) officials don’t see us losing our accreditation,” Gamble said.

ENMU representatives must have reports submitted to the NCA before the visit. Linda Gies, an ENMU history professor, is the director of the self-study report on the university. Gamble said the self-study report must be completed by December of 2006. He said the university begins preparing for the visit and working on the self-study two years prior.

ENMU committees will complete a self-study reports under the direction of Gies.

Gies said the committees are composed of students, faculty members and university employees. Gies said in the self-study report the Higher Learning Commission members are looking for an honest evaluation of ENMU and answer important questions.

“What does ENMU do well?” Gies said of some of the questions. “What does ENMU do well? Where can it improve? Most importantly, how can ENMU improve on the quality of learning?”

Work on the self-study began six months ago, according to Gamble. Gies said the focus of the report will be student learning and service to our constituents.

“While the report includes things like retention rates and graduation rates, it is far broader,” Gies said. “ (It deals with) issues such as integrity and diversity, as well.”