UNM President Robert G. Frank
UNM President Robert G. Frank

Fall in New Mexico: green chile, the Balloon Fiesta and…budget planning? Developing a budget for an institution the size of The University of New Mexico is an ongoing, dynamic process. This year UNM is getting a jump on the process in an effort to make it more responsive and efficient. In the past, most of the work has been done in the few weeks between the end of state legislative session and the date for budget approval.

“By starting earlier in the school year, we hope to bring everyone into the discussion before the deadline pressure hits,” UNM President Robert G. Frank said. “This method will allow for more collaboration, transparency and inclusiveness during the entire budget process.”

Among the challenges facing budget planners is a very small projected increase in freshmen over the next few years based on the number of New Mexico high school graduates. Another challenge is the uncertainty of funding from the Legislative Lottery Scholarship, with changes potentially impacting new freshmen enrollments.

In a resource-constrained environment, budget planners believe moving the budget talks earlier in the fiscal year gives the university community additional time to discuss priorities as well as provide more input and feedback in decision-making. The overarching priorities of strategic investment in student success initiatives and in faculty and staff compensation will guide the discussions.

“We are looking at ways to allocate our resources to most efficiently and effectively meet those objectives, “Provost Chaouki Abdallah said. “It will mean making sure the funding we have is used for the programs and projects that rise to the top in priority.”

One strategy to ensure the effective use of resources is the continued implementation of UNM’s Responsibility Oriented Management (ROM).  Last year, UNM reallocated $3 million of internal funds through ROM to help fund salary increases. This coming year the process will focus on internal performance reallocation, and ensure that institutional goals and performance targets drive budget allocations.

At this point, the state Legislative Finance Committee and the Department of Finance and Administration are projecting a two percent appropriation increase for higher education. Based on this estimate, UNM could receive about $4.6 in million in new funding, split between main campus and the Health Sciences Center based upon performance.

“We need to stress that this is a very preliminary estimate that could change with further adjustments in the funding formula and updates in revenue forecasts,” said Andrew Cullen, associate vice president for planning, budget and analysis.

The Student Fee Review Board (SFRB) is two months ahead of its traditional schedule. The SFRB determines how more than $16.6 million in student activity fees is allocated to various organizations and resource centers on campus. Typically, it starts meeting in December, but this year held its hearings the first weekend in October.

The Budget Leadership Team (BLT), which is comprised of representatives from administration, academic affairs, deans, faculty, staff and students and responsible for making budget recommendations to the President, plans to begin meeting in October as well.

By working with the Regents, the BLT, the SFRB and other stakeholders are empowered with identifying priorities earlier in the year so administrators can make more informed budget recommendations when the revenues streams are finalized after the Legislative Session.

For more information on UNM's budget process, visit: Office of Planning, Budget & Analysis.