With the underlying premise that New Mexico students need to complete college at a price they can afford, analysts from the Legislative Finance Committee presented a performance evaluation of the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University to committee members at hearings being held this week at UNM-Taos.  The report stressed performance outcomes and resource allocation on the main campuses of both institutions.

Key findings in the report conclude that New Mexico needs improvements in the cost-effectiveness of education, as well as a well-planned coordinated higher education system.  Finance mechanisms for higher education encourage growth but do not measure performance or reward excellence.  The findings also state that many students at both institutions take too long to graduate or do not graduate at all - increasing the cost of higher education for students and taxpayers.

Responding to the report, UNM President David J. Schmidly called it a positive undertaking and suggested that if many of the proposed recommendations were considered collectively and then implemented, "we would have a better performing system of higher education in New Mexico."

The report included several statewide recommendations.  The Legislature should consider funding formula changes that provide incentives for cost-effective services, greater completion rates, and on-time degree production (without dilution of quality.)  Lawmakers are also called upon to not fund duplicative or unnecessary degree programs while boosting the funding for identified centers of excellence.

The New Mexico Higher Education Department is called upon to develop and implement a strategic master plan for higher education as required by state law.  (That master plan is currently in development.) The HED should also establish a task force to evaluate options to improve the solvency of the Lottery Scholarship.

Key recommendations in the report that UNM and NMSU  are asked to consider include:

  • Set a goal to double the four-year graduation rate without diluting quality and creating action plans to achieve this starting with the class of 2013

  • NMSU should consider and UNM should continue a gradual increase in admissions standards and requirements

  • Greatly enhance and institutionalize collaboration between UNM, NMSU and local feeder high schools

  • Realign budgeting practices to a system of "Incentives for Academic Excellence" based on principles similar to responsibility center management

  • Develop and implement a comprehensive re-prioritization process and academic and sunset reviews for academic and support programs

  • Develop target subsidy levels for athletics, alumni association, and foundation programs and a plan to achieve the target level within five years

  • Develop and report comprehensive executive dash board reports to monitor aggregate faculty teaching loads and productivity, make the information available on the university website and report to the Board of Regents semi-annually.  This information will aid in determining capacity to absorb enrollment changes or increase resources.

Legislative Finance Committee members complimented both institutions for their cooperation in the study and their willingness to engage in a constructive dialogue about change in the face of diminishing resources.  Working with the LFC and the State, the institutions will begin working on plans to implement many of the recommendations.

Read the complete LFC Report here.

Read UNM's response to the report here.

Read President Schmidly's remarks here.

Media contact: Susan McKinsey (505) 277-1807; mckinsey@unm.edu