ACANS News & Information Center
As Long as Someone is Pulling Your Chain, You’re Worthwhile
President Michael Martin addressed approximately 70 people who attended an Association of Computing and Networking Support (ACANS) Tech-Summit Planning Session November 10 th . Information technology professionals from across NMSU’s campus, as well as members from branch campuses, attended the day-long event that focused on immediate and long-term objectives.
Martin opened the summit by telling those in attendance that it was critical they assume a leadership role in helping the university create a new super structure to meet the challenges the institution will face in the next several years.
In addressing the university’s obligations to its students, Martin said, “Over the next couple of years, we need to create a much more adaptable system of responding to the needs of students who fall outside the traditional student profile. They will become a bigger and bigger part of our reality.” More and more, he explained, students are older, and they are place-bound, time-bound, or one way or another challenged with other realities. The role of the traditional and nontraditional student has reversed. “Our emphasizes is shifting rapidly,” he stated.
Another reality of meeting today’s challenges is adapting to technology in regard to students’ expectations. “We are in the process of significantly retrofitting this campus, and will retrofit many, many more. That is a huge challenge financially, logistically, and in every possible way, and yet we are going to have to do it. The core infrastructure we have doesn’t adapt very well to it. Students expect wireless Internet every place they go.” To date, there are 33 wireless locations on NMSU’s campus.
Addressing larger issues, Martin said that as a land grant institution, “We are the one institution in the state that is directed by law and commanded by tradition to treat the entire state as our campus. Increasingly, we are being called upon to actually meet those needs. We are going to have to make a commitment to do it, and we will depend heavily on technology. You folks,” he said, “are going to have to help us out.”
Martin said NMSU and its branch campuses need to adopt the notion that they are One University , and find ways “to break down the artificial barriers” that have sometimes hindered a unified front. In Living the Vision , Martin outlines criteria by which NMSU can measure its progress in relation to peer institutions.
He noted NMSU’s national and international profile needed to be elevated to a status that reflected the accomplishments of its faculty and students. “This is a much better university than our national and international reputation reflects. We have to find ways, (A) to continue to improve our quality, and (B) to continue to improve the way we are perceived by the outside world. It is time for us to step up and do the things necessary to convince the rest of the country that this institution is as good as they can find.”
Martin identified the need to keep New Mexico students in New Mexico. Last year, of the 17,500 students who graduated from New Mexico high schools, 70 percent, or 12,250, were generally prepared for higher education. Of those 12,250 students, 26 percent, or 3,185, chose to pursuit their education out of state. “We have to fix that.” He stressed NMSU’s need to project itself, within the state and beyond, “as a truly outstanding higher education institution” that attracts New Mexico students and acted as a magnet for other students.
Referring to Thomas Freeman’s book, The World is Flat , Martin stated that technology, and in particular information technology has made the world more independent. With this notion in mind, he said, “One of things we are committed to at this institution is to globalize who we are. We need to reach across the border, across the globe to give our students and faculty a connectiveness to the world they are going to inherit. And it is a big and complex world.” Martin referred to connectiveness as a way to make the world flat for students.
The good news, stated Martin, is that there is lots of work for information technology professionals. The bad news, he said, is that we will probably never have enough resources to feel like we can do it all. “It will always be a challenge,” he said. “We will never be wealthy enough to feel as though we completely solved every problem, but through creativity, energy, and commitment we can overcome, to some extent, that gap, and it is incumbent upon us to so. ”
Martin closed with a story from a professor he had while a graduate student in Minnesota, Dr. Willard Cochran. Cochran was a very famous economist and a key advisor to President John Kennedy. Cochran ’s language was largely peppered with swear words, and he held almost everyone, excluding Kennedy, in disdain.
“One day,” said Martin, “while I was in his office he points to the telephone and says, ‘ Martin that is the worse invention made by man; but when it stops ringing buddy, you’re in trouble. As long as someone is pulling your chain you’re worthwhile. When it stops ringing, you better find something else to do.’ I’ve lived my life by those words. Sometimes, I call myself just to keep in the loop. The notion that you will be pressured to get things done is important, because you know you are important. I assure you that in the business you are carrying on for the university, there will be plenty to do for a long time. The phone will keep ringing; you will be in fine shape.”
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