NMSU Regents approve budget and new grading policy, honor regent, award Regents Medal

May 11, 2012 by Minerva Baumann, NMSU News Center

Outgoing NMSU Board of Regents member Laura Conniff, right, her husband John, center, and NMSU president Barbara Couture pose for a photograph during a special tree-planting event held in Conniff's honor. (photo by Darren Phillips)

Outgoing NMSU Board of Regents member Laura Conniff, right, her husband John, center, and NMSU president Barbara Couture pose for a photograph during a special tree-planting event held in Conniff's honor. (photo by Darren Phillips)

At a regular meeting Friday, May 11, the New Mexico State University Board of Regents approved the operating budget for fiscal year 2012-2013.

The approved budget for all campuses is about $677 million, with operating funds of $605 million and capital outlay (plant funds) of about $72 million.

“This truly demonstrates a very high level of the institutional commitment to instruction and academic support,” said NMSU Regent Javier Gonzalez. “When you look at those budget numbers year after year and the fact of all the challenges we’ve had over the last three years or longer, that the president has continued to focus budget priorities in these areas. I think it should be a strong message to the university community that Dr. Couture and her executive management team are really prioritizing limited dollars in that area.”

The Regents also approved a grading policy to allow NMSU faculty the option of using a fractional grading scale, which provides for plus and minus grades between C-plus and A-minus. The new grading scale for both undergraduate and graduate students would be implemented starting with summer 2013 catalogs and would affect only GPA calculation for grades assigned after its implementation date; courses taken before its implementation would remain unaffected.

“The new grading scale does not take effect overnight,” said executive vice president and provost Wendy Wilkins. “It will be implemented in the summer of 2013. I want to reassure that all faculty members are not required to use plus and minus grades. Faculty members decide on their own what scale they choose to use. This simply gives faculty members the option.”

In other business, the Regents approved the university’s Building the Vision academic strategic plan for the next five years.

Regent Laura Conniff was honored as part of her last regents meeting serving on NMSU’s board of regents. Conniff departs from the board effective May 15. Conniff has served 10 and-a-half years on the board, three terms as the chair, two terms as vice president and three terms as secretary/treasurer.

“It’s been great to have the opportunity to work with all of you across this institution and outside this institution,” Conniff said. “Thank you all for your commitment to New Mexico State University and its students.”

After the meeting, Conniff, a prominent realtor who graduated with honors from New Mexico State University with a degree in business administration, was honored as she planted a tree at the Regents Grove at NMSU.

The Regents awarded a rare Regents Medal to Charley Johnson, a recently retired engineering professor and former NFL quarterback. Since its inception 40 years ago there have been only seven individuals bestowed with this honor by the NMSU Regents. Johnson graduated from NMSU in 1961, earning his masters and Ph.D. in chemical engineering while playing professional football as a starting quarterback for the St. Louis Cardinals. After a professional football career spanning 15 years and starting his own business, Johnson’s love for NMSU brought him back to the university as a professor of chemical engineering in 2000.

The Regents recognized outgoing Associated Students of NMSU President Austin Graham and outgoing Faculty Senate Chair Stuart Munson-McGee.

The Regents also presented the Above & Beyond Award to Robert Peterson, director of planned giving in the New Mexico State University Foundation.

The Above & Beyond Award recognizes full-time employees who go the extra distance in service to any and all aspects of the NMSU system. Individuals are recognized for performance that goes “above and beyond” their regular responsibilities and for demonstrating a positive attitude that inspires others.

Peterson was honored for his efforts in managing the estate of the late Mrs. Norma Jean Fisher. Mrs. Fisher named the NMSU Foundation as the executor for her estate, a position of great trust, which is typically bestowed to a relative, close personal friend or attorney. After discovering her husband’s ashes at the Fisher home, Peterson learned he was a veteran and arranged for a joint service for the couple at Fort Bliss National Cemetery. Peterson even donned jeans and went out to get a vehicle from the estate working so it could be sold.

Regents also honored Calvin Bailey, retired ranch foreman of the Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center for his four decades of service.

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