Sept. 1 was the first day the state of New Mexico began withholding 3.2445 percent of the monthly allocations of state funding going to the University of New Mexico. This latest cut in a series going back to 2008 was the topic of much conversation at the latest meeting of the Board of Regents Finance and Facilities Committee, as members heard how UNM will deal with the current cut and prepare for threatened cuts in 2011-12.
The full board is expected to vote on budget strategies at its next regular meeting on Sept. 14.
Encouraging all university units to take this cut across the board now, Regent Jamie Koch noted that no one knows what kind of difficult decisions the legislature may have to make next year.
“If we don’t cut now, we face worse down the line,” said Koch. “We should do what we can now to hold down tuition increases next spring.”
The schools and colleges, academic affairs units and administrative support units are finalizing plans to deal with the current cut. In addition, schools and colleges are also engaged in planning for anticipated future cuts. Regent Don Chalmers said, “It’s nice to know that you are working on plans for future cuts. Everyone will have to be involved in how decisions are being made as it is everyone’s problem.”
Faculty Senate President Rich Wood shared data with the committee that showed the impact of the cuts on several Arts and Sciences departments. “We want you to know what it is like in the departments, what the reality is facing faculty,” he said.
ASUNM President Laz Cardenas told regents he is glad they will encourage units to take the full budget cuts now. “We know that tuition increases will be inevitable, but cuts first.”
Staff Council President Merle Kennedy told regents that staff are sending the council ideas for cost containment which are being forwarded to appropriate departments and administrators. “We want to know that staff is given fair consideration and we feel that’s being done,” said Kennedy. “We are very involved.”
Regent Chalmers applauded the gathering of ideas from around campus. “The administration does not have a monopoly on good ideas,” he said.
History of State Funding Cuts at UNM Main Campus
In the 2008–2009 budget, the state appropriation for UNM’s main campus was $211,838,500.
From the end of 2008 until the beginning of this fiscal year in July 2010, main campus state appropriations were reduced four times for a total of 12.22 percent or $25,892,500.
The current 3.2445 percent reduction takes another $6,033,000 from main campus coffers and leaves the main campus with an adjusted state appropriation of $179,913,000 for the 2010-11 fiscal year.
These numbers do not reflect the cuts affecting the UNM Health Sciences Center or the UNM branch campuses.
With the goal of protecting the classroom to the greatest extent possible, UNM’s administrative support functions — areas like finance, human resources and safety that support the academic mission of the university – have absorbed 33.6 percent of the cuts that occurred before the most recent 3.2445 percent reduction.
The academic side of the house absorbed 23.7 percent of the cuts, though it is important to note that at the same time, funding for instruction actually increased 2.2 percent. The remainder of the cuts were covered by use of building renewal and replacement funds, stimulus money and unbudgeted tuition.
It is also important to note that $13.041 million in non-recurring funds was used to shore up the current budget – funds that will not be available for next year’s budget.
Academics is being asked to take its proportional share of the current 3.2445 percent reduction, $4,410,003 or 77.45 percent. Administrative support will absorb 22.55 percent or $1,283,997. In a meeting with President Schmidly shortly after the state announced the 3.2445 percent cut in early August, university deans determined that they wanted maximum flexibility in handling the reduction at the school and college level.
It is widely anticipated that further cuts are in the offing, as state revenues fail to rebound, and no one is predicting how deep the next round of cuts may go. An additional 5 percent cut to the university’s already diminished base would take another $8.5 million from main campus coffers and deepen the overall cuts in state funding to nearly 20 percent.
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