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From Program Prioritization to Innovation: UNM-Gallup is Preparing for the Future.

Categories: Students   Faculty   Staff   Community  

By Dr. James Malm & Dr. Daniel Primozic

March 11, 2021 - As we commemorate one year of the COVID-19 pandemic, we do so remembering our friends, neighbors, and community members whose lives were tragically cut short by this virus. We are so grateful for those who’ve recovered from COVID and celebrate the recent news that McKinley County has moved into the green level of the state’s ‘Red to Green’ framework.

Like so many of our area businesses and social service organizations, this past year has been tremendously challenging for our UNM-Gallup campus community with our faculty, staff, and students succeeding in a less-than-ideal hybrid learning environment. Even so, we have made it through this pandemic as a unified campus working toward a return to normal operations this year. We are laser-focused on our mission to prepare our students to achieve their educational and professional goals in a context of respect for the traditions and values of the many groups our university serves.

As part of that mission, we are called to not only prioritize and evaluate our program offerings but to also seek out innovations that align our curriculum with local, regional, state, and even global workforce needs. A recent editorial published in the Gallup Independent only told half of a continuing story, where the editorial board suggested that our program prioritization process—completed in the last few months of 2020—would mean less opportunities for our students.

It is true that, through a shared governance process, we reviewed all of our programs and made the determination to revamp six programs that are not serving UNM-Gallup to their full potential. The program prioritization process has now evolved into program innovation with the advent of our Ad Hoc Academic Program Innovation Committee that will work over the course of the next several months to discuss, review, and recommend programs drawn from a close study of ideas and data that best serve our students and their educational and career plans.

One of our core values as a public university is excellence. We deliver excellence to our community by providing quality decisions and actions through our people, programs, and outcomes. We also value sustainability by meeting the needs of the present while preserving the well-being of future generations. Without innovation—and looking at how our university is meeting the area’s workforce needs—we are not living up to our mission or core values.

There’s an adage that suggests organizations must innovate or die. We are not providing less opportunities for our students, we are innovating to provide opportunities for our students that align with relevant and employable skills that will lead them into viable careers and productive lives. As our innovation committee reports on its recommendations, we will be pleased to share those with the media and community.

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