By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
Eastern New Mexico University received a good grade from students in its exiting senior satisfaction survey this spring.
The results show ENMU ahead of other the state’s five other four-year institutions in three major categories — curriculum, students services and overall assessment.
ENMU’s charts compare 2006 data against the most recent data available from other state institutions — Which was 2002-2003.
Patrice Caldwell, executive director of Planning and Analysis at the university, presented the results of the annual survey in the most recent issue of the newsletter DataWave, published by the Assessment Resource Office, and at the last board of regents meeting.
In the category of curriculum and instruction, ENMU had a satisfaction rate of 94.6 percent. That compares to an 88 percent mark at New Mexico Highlands University, the next highest ranking.
In student services ENMU’s mark of 90.9 percent outdistanced New Mexico State University at 83.1 percent. In overall assessment, ENMU registered close to perfect with 96.8 percent satisfied, compared to 89.5 at NMHU as the closest other university.
Caldwell said the exit surveys have been done at ENMU for at least the last 10-15 years, but the state only began mandating periodic surveys in 1998.
“The survey we had been doing suddenly had a benchmark against the rest of the state,” said Caldwell. “We thought everyone did this well.”
Caldwell and ENMU President Steven Gamble are quick to point out the survey is taken from students who are finishing their education and with a fresh diploma in-hand, they’re a pretty satisfied lot. But at the same time, they say there are good things about surveying that group of students as well.
“We see importance in exiting senior student surveys,” Gamble said.
“We feel because they’re exiting, they’ll be very candid with us.”
Caldwell said when she first realized that they were consistently outperforming other institutions on the state surveys her first thought for the reason behind it was the student to faculty ratio, or the amount of personalized instruction. She was surprised to learn there wasn’t
ENMU officials think the reasons for the high marks may have more to do with services provided and the access students have to faculty and services.
“We have a wonderful staff who want our students to succeed,” Caldwell said.
Some of the changes the surveys have driven at the university include a more comprehensive advisor system and speedier ways of contacting students waiting to hear about financial aid or enrollment acceptance, said Caldwell.
“It’s really helped us clarify where students are satisfied and where we needed work,” Caldwell said. “Data is a very powerful thing and we take it seriously.”
Gamble said student surveys had told them of weaknesses in lab facilities and that reinforced the decision to pursue an extensive remodel of the science building.
“We take the input of our students very seriously,” Gamble said. “Without them we wouldn’t exist.”