Regents at the University of New Mexico today approved a $2.042 billion budget for the main campus, health sciences center and UNM Hospital, a decrease of 3.4 percent from the 2010–2011 budget. Earlier this month, regents had approved 5.5 percent increase of tuition and fees for Fiscal Year 2012.
The budget reflects a rapidly changing level of support from the state of New Mexico. UNM has absorbed $63 million in state funding cuts from the legislature over the last three years. New Mexico taxpayers now contribute 13.5 percent of the UNM budget, down from 20 percent in 2008–2009. UNM’s share of the state’s overall higher education budget has also decreased. In addition, 72 percent of the latest tuition increase will return to state coffers in the form of the tuition tax credit.
The budget reflects university priorities with a strengthened emphasis on the core academic mission. Of note, this year UNM has set aside $2 million to hire new faculty, $500,000 for part-time faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences and $562,734 for graduate and teaching assistant positions.
Continuing budget reductions have forced some departments to reduce service levels. For example Johnson Center, which provides recreational services to students, staff, faculty and the community, will no longer be open on weekends, beginning tomorrow.
Other departments that offer services such as math and science classes for minority students, youth recreation and leadership programs, college preparatory mentoring and judicial education, and the New Mexico Historical Review are also facing serious cuts. The budget did make a specific exception for UNM Press, which publishes scholarly works by the faculty, by continuing to subsidize the press for another year as it works on a new business model.
It is as yet unclear what impact the federal budget cut agreement will have on university finances. UNM President David J. Schmidly says, “We have not yet seen the impact of federal fund cuts on the university.” And UNM Health Sciences Center Chancellor Dr. Paul Roth says possible pending cuts in Medicare and Medicaid funding from the federal government may have very serious implications in the future.