Passed unanimously, University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes presented the Legislative Research and Public Service Projects Funding requests for FY 2024 - 2025 to the Board of Regents at their meeting on Thursday, Aug. 10.
The largest RPSP request for 2025 was $11,941,700 for athletics to improve student-athlete welfare, recruitment and “enhancing the university’s brand”; it was $3.5 million more than last year’s request.
The athletics request is one of two categorical requests, which are approved for a purpose, rather than a specific project. The other is a $1,097,900 request for educational television like New Mexico PBS.
Categorical requests are alongside 23 new requests and 29 expansion requests. A new request of $997,946 would support the Accelerating Resilience Innovations in Drylands Institute for education and research on how to preserve the people’s economy and the ecosystem of New Mexico.
Environmental concerns were also brought up during the public comment. Several spoke about the Board of Regents filing to require “review and consideration” of the Health Equity and Environmental Impacts regulation.
The HEEI regulation would stop projects that cause air pollution in overburdened communities. The rule is currently awaiting a public hearing by the Air Board to vote on its adoption.
Feleecia Guillen, UNM Leaders for Environmental Action and Foresight Director of Communications, asked the board how filing in opposition to the HEEI regulation aligns with the sustainability goals advertised by the school.
“Why did the board choose this course of action, seemingly without aligning it with the values of equity and inclusion outlined in the UNM 2040 framework? This framework underlies the university’s – our commitment – to social justice, health equity and inclusivity, yet the actions of the board appear to be inconsistent with these principles,” Guillen said.
Several employees of UNM-H also voiced concerns about short staffing at the hospital during public comment. Union members from the Committee of Interns and Residents and District 1199 representing hospital workers asked for a living wage in contract negotiations with the University.
“UNM residents are the second lowest paid residents in the region, just by a few hundred dollars, and the issue of retention and pay are not unrelated. If UNM wants to retain us they need to pay us a livable wage. Ultimately, it’s the people of New Mexico who will suffer with the physician shortage. We are asking for a 12% pay raise for all intern, residents and fellow physicians at UNM,” Rupali Gautam, a first-year pediatrics resident with Service Employees International Union, said.
Stokes presented five new requests for the Health Sciences Department alongside three expansion requests, including a $5,617,300 request for health equity for all New Mexicans to “accelerate the growth of the healthcare workforce.”
“It will assure community-driven priorities, via two centers of excellence focused on rural and Hispanic - Latino. It will implement cross-cutting training, education and clinical service to better serve community-academic partnerships, and will advance collaboration within the existing offices at the Office of Community Health,” Stokes said.
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Other health science requests include $2,400,000 to incorporate AI into medical training and practice, an expansion request of $4,700,000 to admit 10 more nursing students a year, for a total annual class size of 50 and further support the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
The University is also requesting almost $3 million for student mental health and wellbeing to allow Student Health and Counseling to add more mental health counselors to staff as well as offer temporary housing and meal plan support.
The regents gave permission for the Real Estate Department to negotiate a price for land they want the University to buy, before asking for permission from the Regents to use the Regents’ Endowment to cover the costs of the property.
The Regents’ Endowment is otherwise used for scholarships – a concern brought up during the meeting. With the new permission, all purchases still have to be approved by the Regents before the money is given from the endowment and the purchase of 1801 Las Lomas Road. NE is approved.
Maddie Pukite is the editor-in-chief at the Daily Lobo. They can be contacted at email@example.com on Twitter @maddogpukite
8/15/23 Editor's note: A prior version of this article misattributed the quote from Rupali Gautam, a first-year pediatrics resident, to a former pediatrics resident. It has since been updated to reflect the correct speaker.