The University of New Mexico approved branch campus budgets for the upcoming fiscal year at the Board of Regents meeting on Tuesday.
The budgets for Main Campus and Health Sciences Center are another story.
The meeting, which doubled as the 2019/2020 Annual Budget Summit, saw a last-minute letter from the Higher Education Department of New Mexico causing a postponement of the vote to approve Main Campus and HSC budgets.
“All employees at public postsecondary institutions are to receive a 4 percent increase in compensation,” wrote Kate O’Neill, the Cabinet Secretary of HED to the Council of University Presidents, New Mexico Association of Community Colleges and New Mexico Independent Community Colleges.
Even though the branch campuses are considered “public postsecondary institutions,” like Main Campus or Central New Mexico Community College, the BOR approved their recommended budgets without requiring additional time.
Branch campus funding sources are different compared to Main Campus, according to UNM Interim Provost Richard Wood. For example, some of the branch campuses receive funding from local municipalities in addition to state funding.
Alice Letteney, CEO of UNM Valencia, said she anticipated the branch to receive an increase of over $80,000.
“We have also gotten an increase in dual-credit funding, (that's) over $100,000 which will help, and we also have some staff retirement. We’re not going to replace the positions,” Letteney said during the Tuesday’s summit when asked how the branch would compensate for the increase.
Wood said the branch campuses could handle the four percent increase in compensation because of the combination of local funding they received and state dual-credit funding. Wood said research universities, such as UNM, were not included in that funding.
Back on Main Campus, things remain uncertain.
The Budget Leadership Team recommended adding additional payments for upper-division credit hours for Main Campus students, including graduate courses. The BLT is a subcommittee that helps decide how the UNM budget is spent.
This year, the team comprised of 23 individuals from across UNM, including representatives from student governments, staff council and faculty senate. The BLT also had five deans and representatives from the administration, such as Athletics Director Eddie Nuñez and Chief Information Officer Duane Arruti.
Fees would increase under BLT’s recommendations. They include a technology fee to pay for Information Technologies, which was previously covered by student fees, in addition to a mandatory student fee increase, according to Director of Financial Operations for Academic Affairs Nicole Dopson.
Each student taking 15 credit hours would pay $82.66 for lower division and $232.66 for upper division — about a 2.26 percent increase for lower division and a 5.76 percent increase for upper.
The increase in cost of attendance occurs as enrollment has plummeted nearly 14 percent over the last five years. In addition to cuts in state funding, declining enrollment has put the University a tough financial position — nearly $10 million dollars lost in 2018
Ultimately, it’s up to the BOR to decide how, and if, the cost of attendance will be increased.
The special meeting has not been rescheduled as of the publication of this article. However, UNM President Garnett Stokes said she expects an announcement within the next week.
Anna Evanitz, Danielle Prokop and Madison Spratto contributed to the reporting of this article.
Justin Garcia is a staff reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers student government. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @just516garc.