Rating Transparency in Higher Education

(Albuquerque) The Rio Grande Foundation, in its ongoing effort to flex New Mexico’s transparency laws, has attempted to obtain the payrolls of each of the state’s 16 institutes of higher education.

Under New Mexico state law, information kept in an electronic format must be made available to the public in that format if it is requested as such. Also, a specific point of contact must be made available to handle Inspection of Public Records (IPRA) Requests. Whether information was provided in the format requested, within the appropriate time frame, and whether or not a point of contact was on the website, formed the basis for our A-F ranking.

As Rio Grande Foundation President Paul Gessing noted, “Higher education transparency is in the news these days with the University of New Mexico recently having made waves by becoming the first institute to place all payroll information on a publicly-available website. We at the Rio Grande Foundation applaud UNM’s leadership and encourage other institutes of higher learning to follow UNM’s path.”

“Unfortunately, responsiveness and ability for average citizens to obtain supposedly public information varies widely from school to school, making it difficult or impossible for average citizens to obtain even basic information.”

The full report is available here. The grades for individual institutes are listed below (and in the paper itself) and include live hyperlinks to the payroll data for each school.

University of New Mexico: A+

New Mexico State University: A

Eastern New Mexico University: A

New Mexico Highlands: A

Western New Mexico University: A

New Mexico Military Institute: A

San Juan College: A-

Central New Mexico Community College: B+

Clovis Community College: B

New Mexico Junior College: B

Santa Fe Community College: C+

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology: C

Northern New Mexico College: F

Mesalands Community College: F

Doña Ana Community College: F

Luna Community College: F

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2 Replies to “Rating Transparency in Higher Education”

  1. I read the report, which is very thin on methodology. How about some transparency in your grading?

    Please explain exactly how your experiences translate into specific grades. I am particularly interested in the finer gradations differentiating an A- and a B+. What differentiates an A- from a B+? For that matter, what differentiates a B from a C+?

    The low grades seem to be assigned to the smaller institutions. Is there any possibility that a smaller institution may have more difficulty responding to such requests than an institution that has a more elaborate administrative lattice?

    Maybe responsiveness to your request is a function of the size and obligations of the administration, and not any deliberate intent to keep information from the public.

    1. If a school did not have a particular contact listed for IPRA requests, we dinged them about a letter grade. If they provided the information in a timely fashion regardless of contact point on IPRA, they usually got a “B.” The letter grades varied from there based on how easily and quickly the institute complied with our request.

      For example, compliance, but outside of the proscribed 15 day window was about half a grade, the need to pay for the records was half a grade or so, etc. As long as schools complied, they did not receive a failing grade. We were being generous as failure to comply with state law by having a point of contact for IPRA requests would be considered by many to merit a failing grade.

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