Pedro L. Martinez was the latest candidate for provost/vice president in charge of Academic Affairs to visit Western New Mexico University.
According to his bio, he is a "scholar, administrator and academic innovator with a depth and breadth of exceptional experiences in higher education that span for over 35 years." He is the former provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Winston-Salem State University. He has also received many awards on the community level, in addition to increasing academic and research programs at Winston-Salem. He earned his doctorate in social foundations from Loyola University in Chicago, and a master of education and bachelor of arts degrees from the University of Hartford, CT.
He chose to give his presentation on institutional effectiveness. Martinez used Prezi, which he said was a notch above a PowerPoint. Much of his presentation was textual, small and difficult to read, but the graphics he used were much more explanatory.
He asked the audience how they would define institutional effectiveness. One audience member said: "How good we are at doing what we do."
Martinez gave his version, which was "Who are we? What are we doing? And are we doing it well?"
"You say in your mission that teaching is pre-eminent," Martinez said. "You also need to try to provide a nurturing environment for students. Various pedagogies are necessary to develop 21st Century skills. They include critical thinking, analytical thinking, and technological literacy. How do we do that? We translate them into student outcomes or student learning outcomes. The first thing is determining how effective we are at what we do.
"Sometimes we fatigue our faculty asking them to do different things," Martinez alleged. "How are we aligning them to be effective? We ask students to develop 21st Century competency skills based on core skills. The students need these skills for employment purposes."
He said vice presidents must ask faculty to expand teaching strategies and include and incorporate experiential learning.
Martinez said every university needs centers of excellence. For example, the WNMU Museum is a center of excellence, where a group of individuals collaborates and uses best practices. "You can also have other centers of excellence."
"We need to provide best practices to attract students and to show what we do best," Martinez said. "What are the challenges for the university?" They include student success, diverse student body, faculty excellent, technical integration in the delivery of courses, increase in availability of online courses and online full degrees, faculty and staff development, establishment of new degrees and a university aligned with the area, the state and the nation. Needed are a strategic plan, program review, a master plan, and accreditation to connect them at the intersection of success and student success.
"Everything you do is connected and continuous," Martinez said. "The cycle is to review them."
He opened the forum to questions. "I am a visual person. Ask me why I think institutional effectiveness is so important."
Priscilla Lucero, Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments executive director, asked how the community should collaborate with the university and vice versa. "How do you see community input?"
Short-term, Martinez said, he would get into the workforce, and longer term he would expand skills. "How are we aligned to making students employable in the area? What are the connections? How can we bring in the business community to offer internships? How can we include service learning? Students need to practice in the community what they learn on campus. Is the community coming in to the university? Are they invited to the museum and concerts? Do you include families in orientation? Maybe you need bi-lingual orientation. Are students able to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application?"
An audience member asked what specific qualities Martinez brings to contribute to effectiveness.
"I have 35 years in academia and 17 in administration," Martinez replied. "My first job was working in an alternative school. My spectrum of teaching is from high school to adult learning to undergraduate and graduate studies, all of which requires different experience. I have always been a faculty member. There is no gene marker for administration. I understand being faculty. The provost or vice president should advocate for faculty. I recommend administration members go periodically in to teach in the classroom and be able to offer different things for different learners. I have a good sense of humor and try to laugh as much as possible. I have learned from my wife how to listen. Administrators must listen, listen, listen. I prefer the term participatory governance rather than shared governance."
Ombudsperson Kathie Gilbert asked a two-part question: "Why would an administrator go from provost back to the classroom?"
"I resigned my position as provost when there were three chancellors in two years," Martinez said. "The third one was hell. He asked me to do something unethical, so I resigned."
Gilbert asked what enticed Martinez to apply for the position in New Mexico.
"I don't want to minimize New Mexico," Martinez said. "I think you have the opportunity to move forward with the new president. I have spent time in only four institutions, so I have longevity. I want to get into a position where I can do my best, and this is such an opportunity."
Tiffany Knauf, graduate student, said her greatest concern is faculty retention. "I have had seven professors and four are no longer here."
Martinez said two things factor into faculty retention—the faculty workload and the salary. "At Winston-Salem, we brought faculty up to 80 percent of the salary of their peers. Here, you brought them up, got them experienced, and they sought other jobs. You need to do an exit survey. You have to provide evidence to find out why they left. It might be multiple reasons, but it is a problem."
Gilbert pointed out Martinez would have the potential for five new deans, a new provost and a fairly new president. "What are the advantages and disadvantages?"
"I think sometimes five deans being replaced causes instabilities, but you may need it to move forward," Martinez said.
(Editor's Note: WNMU is reorganizing into five colleges. It has not yet had any deans.)
Martinez continued that such a change, he hoped, would make faculty able to choose qualities they want in a leader. "Emphasize the good rather than the bad. When I was provost, we replaced three deans and created a deanship for a university college, with the same status as the others. We wanted leadership with skills for retention. Everything happening in higher education is based on graduation and retention."
An audience member said that Martinez came from a school where there were many African-Americans.
"Every student coming to a university is at risk," Martinez said. "Every student had to go through the university college, and we changed the advisement process."
The same questioner asked how the school got everyone to go through the supplemental courses.
"We spent money on it," Martinez said. "We made it pleasant and comfortable and brought in honor students to teach the courses. We started with 150 students. By the end of the semester, we had 500."
An audience member said WNMU has multiple campuses. "How would you help us weave a blanket without holes?"
"You have to provide services similar to those here, with no differences," Martinez said. "They need a connection to the main campus so they are part of this campus family. The Great Race is an opportunity to bring them together. Have a student day to connect students, even outside the country, using technology. I will spend on 2020 technology. No more six-year-old computers. Students deserve the best. I will demand a fairer share of resources for the other campuses."
"On a scale of 1-10, how much of a micro-manager are you?" an audience member asked.
"That is a troublesome area," Martinez said. "I will micro-manage to fix a problem. If you are able to select the right personnel and provide them with what your expectations are, set up a climate where they can have ideas and be autonomous, but give respect to the rest of the staff and share, I am about a 4 on the micro-management scale, if a 10 indicates a micro-manager."
Another questioner asked how Martinez would deal with an area of the university that is losing students.
"Use a students-assessed model on how to increase the level of graduation," Martinez said. "I would promote more sponsored programs with grants, and have talented faculty do that. Perhaps a summer program for faculty to bring in more resources; take a portion of grants to bring us ideas on how to bring in more money."