Students, faculty and staff, who braved the elements, put on quite a show in the Roundhouse Wednesday at UNM Day at the Legislature. Thanks to the students whose exhibits were terrific. Also, special thanks goes to Dr. Carolyn Voss from the HSC, Meeko Oishi from Engineering, as well as students Homer Hubbell and Rachel Williams who waited long hours to be recognized in both chambers on behalf of UNM Day.
UNM students were everywhere – handing out beads, reading blood pressure monitors, joining faculty to sing the national anthem and talking, talking, talking to folks about UNM and the lottery scholarship. A group from ASUNM also met with Governor Martinez.
Today was the last day legislators could introduce bills, so by tonight or tomorrow, all UNM bills of interest should be on the Bill Tracker and ready for your perusal. The Tracker is on the Government Relations website.
Higher Education Endowment
This morning, House Education gave do pass approval to HB 79, sponsored by Rep. Larry Larranaga (R-Albuquerque), who recommends pumping $7.5 million into the Higher Education Endowment. Under terms of his legislation, institutions can compete for awards from that fund, providing they have a written gift agreement for a 50 percent match from private sources. The money would pay for chairs and professorships, etc. particularly in the STEM-H and economic development fields. UNM Foundation President Henry Nemcik called it the “single most powerful tool to get people to commit to and invest in universities.”
House Appropriations, the committee currently putting the finishing touches on the state budget, has only put $4 million into the fund, so there will be a big push to bolster that amount, especially since this is seen as an investment in the future of our institutions. Several committee members also recommended that a portion of the endowment proceeds be set aside specifically for smaller schools, in order to level the playing field with the likes of UNM and NMSU. No amendment to that effect was entertained in House Education, but Chair Mimi Stewart (D-Albuquerque) pointed out that the members intervening for the smaller institutions all serve on House Appropriations, which is the next stop for HB 79. So some amendments may be forwarded in the near future.