The search for UNM’s new president will begin soon, Regents Vice President Marron Lee said at Tuesday’s Board of Regents meeting, adding that it will be a regent-led effort and they hope to form a committee to assist in the vetting process.
The committee would contain members from various campus departments. Departments are required to give a list of at least five names they deem worthy of the position, and nominations may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
UNM administrators are also encouraged to nominate potential members, she said.
Community input is requested for what the public feels the position description for UNM president should entail, Lee said. Recommendations can be submitted at presidentialsearch.unm.edu.
Officials hope to have a new president in office by June 1, 2017, she said.
DOJ report updates
President Bob Frank’s administrative report included details of the agreement reached between the Department of Justice and UNM on Monday. The agreement is for three years and aims to address campus sexual harassment and misconduct.
The DOJ has investigated the campus sexual assault policies for the last three years prior to signing the agreement, revealing in a spring report a system of inadequate and confusing policies that victims of alleged sexual harassment have been forced to rely on.
“The agreement is not an ending, it is a beginning,” Frank said. “It is an opportunity to move forward together to make campus a caring and safe educational environment.”
UNM has taken steps to meet high standards and strengthen its prevention of and response to sexual harassment, he said.
The agreement outlines policies the University will need to adopt in order to meet compliance. Those include mandatory sexual harassment training for all students, key staff and faculty, continuous review of policies and procedures to ensure effective reporting and response to complaints, and surveys to make sure the campus is serving the community appropriately.
Students will be required to take the training once a year every year, a requirement UNM must meet by December of 2017.
When asked about how the trainings will be funded — they are expected to cost about $1.5 million — Frank said UNM administration has “no idea where the money will come from.”
“We are absolutely committed to meeting the standards of the agreement,” he said. “I believe we are a better campus for it.”
UNM will be under accreditation review for 2018-2019 year. Frank said his goal is to ensure the University meets the higher standards accreditation has set before them.
Main Campus is currently above the standards for accreditation in terms of student success, six-year graduation rates and post-graduate success, having reached record marks associated with those metrics in recent years.
“This will show the value of the UNM degree,” Frank said.
The University’s continuing budget woes have been the main topic in executive meetings.
The Office of Budget, Planning and Analysis outlined its goals for upcoming years to address budget cuts, staggering revenue and dwindling reserves.
“Reserves are declining overall at the University of New Mexico,” according to a report from the office.
Reserves should be used for student success support, current revenue challenges, or one-time uses for budget shortfalls until permanent budget strategies can be implemented, according to the letter.
Athletics in a slump
Regent Thomas Clifford requested specific recommendations to address the athletic program’s deficit. He said this year’s budget needs to be consistently updated to reflect future budget expectations.
In response, Andrew Cullen of the Office of Budget, Planning and Analysis said UNM officials are holding off on staff hires and minimizing travel. Athletics projected fewer tickets sales for football and basketball this year, which reflects a trend seen in the 2015 fiscal year.
Ticket sales for UNM football, as well as men’s and women’s basketball, fell short to the tune of a combined $900,000 according to the budget report.
“In order to remain competitive, we provided student athletes with cost-of-attendance, which impacted our budget by $200,000,” according to UNM reports.
Travel expenses continue to rise due to the expansion of the Mountain West Conference and the ensuing need to travel farther, which also raises team operating costs.
More cuts possible
When asked about the possibility of cutting high-level executive salaries, the budget office said that they had not gathered the data, but will compile necessary information for the next meeting.
Reorganization of HSC and Main Campus staffing will allow $2 million to be saved for a five percent budget cut coming later this year.
The restructuring comes from vacant staff positions not being filled, with extra duties re-assigned to existing staff members.
According to the budget report, UNM regents will also be taking a 15 percent cut for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.
A five percent budget cut for all public universities was recently passed in a special legislative session called for by Gov. Susana Martinez.
For fiscal year 2016, expenses outweighed revenues, resulting in the University being $617 million more in the red than the year before.
The upcoming year is expected to add an additional $458 million to the debt.
New Mexico saw a revenue reduction of $348 million for fiscal year 2016, leaving the state $131 million in debt. New Mexico is to see a $556 million revenue reduction for fiscal year 2017.
Nikole McKibben is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @nmckibben92.