UNM President Robert Frank soon will seek student input as part of an exercise to envision the future of the University.

At a GPSA Council meeting Saturday, Frank said his UNM 2020 plan is a tentative vision for the University in the year 2020. He said the exercise, which will allow the University to form a realistic vision for a better University, began with the administration, but he will seek the student voice in the next four to six weeks.

Frank said students will be able to provide feedback for the plan on a UNM 2020 website.

“Don’t tell us so much what’s wrong, but tell us how you imagine the University,” he said. “And once we get that vision, we can come back and ask what we have to do to get there. What do we have to do by 2015 to get there in 2020?”

Frank said that by 2013, the University should be able to understand what the vision may entail and discuss which aspects are financially realistic and which are not. He said the plan will allow the University to understand which steps are necessary in order to achieve the University’s goals for the future.

“You have to say ‘If that’s your goal then you have to do that,’” he said. “Then you have to go back when you get all of these things and say ‘Here are all these challenges’ and you can’t do all of them, so you decide what are the highest challenges to achieve that goal.”

Center of campus life

Frank said discussions among members of the administration, ASUNM and GPSA have begun for a recreational center on campus. He said the University is in dire need of a “center of campus life” to ensure students are more involved with the University.

“We don’t have a center of campus life; campuses that have a center of campus life have beautiful rec centers and we’ve got an OK rec center, if you stretch the word ‘OK,’” he said. “We’d all have to come together, faculty, staff and students, and build something where people can go in between classes for physical activity or just to sit and enjoy life and it’s really critical that we create a place that serves our students.”

Frank said that although Johnson Gym is available for student use, the gym is only half of what he envisions the proposed center to be. He said the proposed center of campus life would be a wellness center for students that would include Johnson Gym, the health and wellness center and a recreational center.

In fall 2011, the Board of Regents approved the University’s Consolidated Master Plan, a 10- to 15-year development plan that aims to help accommodate a projected 10-year state population growth of more than 1 million people.

The plan includes a proposed recreation center and increased on-campus housing for undergraduate and graduate students.

In spring 2011, 67 percent of students voted against an ASUNM ballot amendment that would have funded a recreation center by increasing student fees by more than $100 per semester.

At Saturday’s meeting GPSA Council members asked Frank how the University would fund the recreation center and expressed concern that student fees would increase.

Frank said the center is only a proposal that he believes will benefit the University, but that the administration will seek student input before making any decisions. He said that the University could seek funding from resources other than student fees, such as a one-time allocation from the state.

Prioritizing costs

Council members asked how the administration plans to prioritize future costs, such as the possibility of building a new recreational center, and costs the administration already plans to fund, such as increasing faculty salaries.

Frank said the main priority is to increase faculty salaries. He said the University underpays faculty members and that the problem has gone on for too long.

In June 2012, the Daily Lobo reported that Provost Chaouki Abdallah said the University was $8 million behind its peers in total faculty pay last year on average, and is $10 million on average behind its peers this year.

Frank said the administration is in the process of analyzing courses at UNM to better understand how many students the University should enroll in order to generate more funding to ensure that the University will run at its full potential.

He said some classes run below capacity and that those empty spaces are opportunities to generate additional funding for the University.

“We’re doing that analysis right now to say ‘How many students do we need to bring in to match our perfect size?’” he said. “And once you do that, then you can bring in international and out-of-state students and they really run on the margin. And those students on the margin pay full tuition and help subsidize in-state tuition and help the University run more cost efficiently.”