Report gives N.M. schools low ranking

Eastern New Mexico University President Steven Gamble is confident his university offers a quality education even though a new report says New Mexico colleges and universities are under-achieving compared to other schools nationwide.

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Colleges and universities in New Mexico received low rankings in the areas of academic performance and student success in a recent national report from the Institute for a Competitive Workforce, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

New Mexico schools received a less than satisfactory grade overall in a report from the Institute for a Competitive Workforce, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, that issued a state-by-state report card on public post-secondary education.

The report used student success, cost-effectiveness, labor market demand and other areas as indicators for its grading system.

"I don't know what criteria they used, but almost any national report that comes out on education, (New Mexico) generally ranks at the bottom," Gamble said. "I'm not surprised that this report doesn't say anything different."

According to the national Competitive Workforce report:

  • New Mexico's four-year institutions fell in the bottom 10 in retention rate, completion rate and credentials produced per 100 full-time equivalent undergraduates. New Mexico's two-year institutions scored in the bottom third in those three areas.
  • In the Efficiency and Cost-Effectiveness category, New Mexico received low grades, with four-year state and local funding per completion at $82,653 — almost double the national median of $41,198, ranking in the bottom five states.
  • The median wage of a New Mexico bachelor's degree holder is approximately 55 percent more than the median wage of a high school graduate. The median of an associate's degree holder is approximately 26 percent higher.
  • The state also received low marks in transparency and accountability, policy environment and innovation.

Clovis Community College President Becky Rowley said she thinks the report does not reflect what they're doing but does admit CCC is working to change its shortcomings.

"Our graduation rate could certainly be improved and that's something that we're working on," Rowley said.

She also said that students who attend CCC for specific classes can meet workforce needs without getting a degree but added that the school does encourage students to get their degree.

Gamble says he believes ENMU does a good job in preparing its students for the workforce.

"Our goal for our students is to be competitive for whatever job they want in their career," Gamble said. "I think we do that pretty well."

Gamble said ENMU is known for producing businessmen and women as well as teachers. He said there are also a large number of graduates in the sciences.

Gamble said there are many factors that play into student success in addition to what the report mentioned.

"Having a good solid education, graduating from a school that is going to prepare them for the workforce and having good communication skills are important," Gamble said. "(Students) need to have a good education in their major area and that's what we strive to do at Eastern."

Gamble predicts ENMU's graduation rate to be 30 percent from a university report expected to be released this fall. He also mentioned that 2011's retention rate for ENMU was around 65 percent.

"Those numbers are good for New Mexico but both are below the national average," Gamble said.

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