During its regular meeting Monday, the New Mexico State University Board of Regents voted not to increase tuition for the 2016-2017 academic year. The vote means the university will need to cut its budget by approximately $10.7 million for the next year.
During a March 9 town hall meeting, university leaders outlined how NMSU was facing a challenging financial situation stemming from several factors, including a decrease in state appropriations due to the struggling state economy and a decrease in student enrollment. Taken together, state funding and tuition represent about half the operating budget of the university.
“As we analyze budget reduction options, we must take a thoughtful approach to meeting these financial challenges, while planning for the future and avoiding more budget cuts in the short-term,” NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers said.
Among the options being considered by university leaders is a reduction in administrative salaries. Those reductions would be 1 percent for salaries of $100,000 to $149,999, 2 percent for salaries of $150,000 to $199,999 and 3 percent for salaries of $200,000 and above. Restoration of the salary reductions would not be considered until such time as staff receive a compensation increase of at least 2 percent.
“Because we have spent the past few years trying to bring our faculty up to market in regard to their salaries, and we would like to avoid undoing this progress, these salary reductions will not include faculty members,” Carruthers said. “Also, employees who have contracts will be excluded since this would require renegotiating those contracts. However, even though I am a contract employee, I have opted to be included in the reduction because I want to be part of a team solution.”
Additional options include eliminating retiree health coverage for employees hired on July 1, 2016, or later, eliminating sick leave payout, and discontinuing the Employee Health Center. As part of the Employee Health Center option, the university is in discussion with State Risk Management about establishing a local health clinic similar to their new clinic in Santa Fe where employees under the state health plan can seek care without co-pays for visits, and some prescriptions are provided at no cost. The Student Health Center services would not change.
The budget reductions proposed will be effective July 1, 2016, and are only first steps in the effort to reduce the budget for the 2017, and ensuing, fiscal years. As part of the budget reduction process, NMSU will also evaluate administrative and academic programs to make sure they are meeting the mission of the university.
“While we are still early in this process, Provost Dan Howard and I are engaging unit leaders to ensure that any program changes are strategically sound and decisions are consistent with our teaching, research and service mission,” Carruthers said. “The budget reduction options under consideration underscore the seriousness of our current fiscal challenges and our resolve to make the changes necessary to secure the future of NMSU. We need to develop strategically sound budget reductions that will help us transform into a university that can sustain itself in good times and bad.”
Feedback on the budget reduction options is welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org. The comment period will extend until May 1.
Regents did approve a 5 percent increase in on-campus housing rates and a 3 percent increase in meal plans. A $7.50 increase in parking permit rates was also approved.
In other business, Regents approved an honorary degree for Charlie Johnson, who graduated from NMSU and played on the Aggie football team. He was named Sun Bowl most valuable player for two consecutive years. He went on to play in the NFL and served as an NMSU faculty member. Regents also approved an honorary degree from NMSU Dona Ana Community College for Ben Woods, NMSU’s former senior adviser to the president.
Regents read resolutions to recognize the NMSU men’s and women’s basketball teams, the volleyball team and the equestrian team for their successful seasons.
The Regents’ Above and Beyond Award was presented to Glen Haubold, associate vice president for facilities and services, one of NMSU’s largest administrative units. He’s worked at the university for the past nine years, overseeing project development and engineering, facilities operations, environmental health and safety, the office of sustainability, the university architect and the NMSU fire department.
“Glen is a highly intelligent and experienced employee who continuously strives for excellence through outstanding work performance and establishing the highest level of service standards for the entire facilities and services team,” said Angela Throneberry, NMSU’s senior vice president for administration and finance.
Author: Justin Bannister – NMSU