ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The University of New Mexico's senior administration is proposing a number of changes that they say will provide help students graduate on time, be successful in school and raise the school's overall reputation.
"Our reputation for the quality of our education is way lower than it should be," said Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management Terry Babbitt.
Babbitt said there are a number of reasons for UNM's bad rap, but one of the biggest is the university's dismal graduation rate. UNM accepts about 80 percent of all the applicants it receives. A typical freshman class is about 3,400 students. About 45 percent of them will graduate in six years. Only 15 percent will finish in four.
UNM also trails in terms of student success when compared to peer colleges similar in size, programs and mission.
Babbitt said the statistics are "not acceptable," but administrators boast the fact that UNM is one of the most accessible, high-level research institutions in the country.
But the university, with a new leader in President Robert Frank, wants to increase the number of students who are graduating. It wants to add more academic coaching and advisers to support enrolled students.
Raising admission requirements is again on the table, said Babbitt. High school seniors who graduate with a 19 ACT score and a 2.5 GPA can get into UNM. The GPA was raised from a 2.25 GPA three years ago. In addition to possibly raising the GPA requirement, the administration is also considering requiring high school seniors to complete remedial summer school classes or taking classes at CNM before being allowed into UNM.
Babbitt said the goal isn't to deny access to New Mexico's students, instead it's to better prepare high school seniors for college. Right now, about 39 percent of incoming freshmen need at least one remedial course in math, english or reading.
"We're just not being fair to a student when we let them in here and in six months or eight months, their first taste of college is failure," said Babbitt.
But members in the community said they are concerned about the university tightening access.
"We'd be very much against raising the standards that are going to reduce the number of students that are going to be admitted to UNM, particularly hispanic students and other minority students," said Ralph Arellanes, Director of the League of United Latin American Citizens of New Mexico.
Some state lawmakers also said that if the university raises admissions standards, they may have to rethink how much state funding UNM gets.
"If we do limit accessibility to in-state students, I might have a problem with that," said Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell.
The administration plans to present its student success plan to the Board of Regents sometime in the spring. If the board approves, the plan will likely be implemented over the next few years.
"We're asking for your trust. We are communicating and we're transparent and we think this is best for our students," said Babbitt.
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