At a public work session March 11 to discuss development of the FY14 budget, the New Mexico State University Board of Regents heard a variety of budget considerations. Depending on the final approved state appropriations, the university is evaluating budgetary priorities that could result in possible tuition and fee increases ranging from no increase to 4.2 percent.
This step in the university's budgeting process was intended to provide the Regents and the ex-officio members, including student, faculty and staff representatives, the opportunity to learn about the budget funding sources, priorities and strategies in advance of the April 3 meeting when the final recommendation for tuition and fee rates and budget guidelines will be presented.
Interim President Manual Pacheco started the workshop by discussing the principals that are guiding the development of the budget, including recognizing the role NMSU plays in providing a quality education to the citizens of the state at the lowest possible cost while managing the impact of overall reduced state level funding.
"The university operates in a very efficient manner," Pacheco said. "This is the leanest university I have ever been associated with."
Some of NMSU's budget priorities for FY14 include required increases such as the New Mexico Educational Retirement Board's combined employer contribution increase of 2.25 percent and an anticipated increase of 15 percent in health premiums. In addition, if state funding is provided, a faculty and staff compensation increase of 1 percent also will be included in the final recommendation.
NMSU's institutional priorities under consideration include phase one of a Faculty Salary Enhancement Plan; funding for faculty promotion and tenure; enrollment management initiatives, such as scholarships, tutoring and advising services; graduate student support; an increase in required fee allocations; and an additional 1 percent for faculty and staff compensation.
Currently, there are no plans to recommend an increase in housing or parking rates for FY14. Rate increases under consideration for meal plans range from 3.28 to 3.43 percent.
NMSU community colleges could see tuition increases as well, including up to 1.3 percent for resident in-district students at NMSU Alamogordo; up to 2.3 percent for resident in-district students at NMSU Carlsbad; and up to 1.6 percent for NMSU's Dona Ana Community College students. Currently there is no proposed increase for NMSU Grants.
At a regular meeting following the workshop, Regent Mike Cheney was re-elected to serve as chair of the board. Regent Javier Gonzales was elected vice chair and Regent Isaac Pino secretary/treasurer. They will serve in these roles for one year.
Cheney has worked in the banking industry for more than 25 years. Gonzales has more than 15 years experience as a leader in a broad range of projects in the public and private arenas. Pino serves the City of Santa Fe as director of both the Department of Public Works and the Community Services Department.
The five-member board also includes Kari Mitchell, the CEO and owner of Las Cruces Machine, Mfg. & Engineering, and Jordan Banegas, the newly seated student regent, who is a fourth-year marketing and psychology student at NMSU.
The regular meeting included an enrollment update from Bernadette Montoya, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management. Montoya reported that there was a slight decline for this spring at the Las Cruces campus on census date, although there is still some movement in enrollment as registration for the mini-semester courses gets under way soon. She also reported that NMSU's fall-to-fall retention rate of 72 percent has held steady in recent years.
The board also presented the Above & Beyond Award to Dana Wiebe, secretary for the Animal and Range Science Department in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. The Above & Beyond Award recognizes full-time employees who go the extra distance in service to any and all aspects of the NMSU system. Individuals are recognized for performance that goes "above and beyond" their regular responsibilities and for demonstrating a positive attitude that inspires others.
Wiebe provides support to 17 faulty members, maintains student records and serves as a primary point of contact for entering and continuing students for advising. In addition, she has become an expert in Web CT/Blackboard and Canvas, the online academic engine, and is now the go-to person for students and faculty on any questions about this software tool.
In the nomination, Jack Thomas, a professor in the department, said, "Since her arrival 11 years ago, Dana has taken the initiative to develop and implement numerous changes to assist faculty in the accuracy and effectiveness with which new and returning students are academically advised. Dana also is so proficient in navigating Banner, the Student Financial Aid system and the Star Audit System that students from other colleges sometimes seek her out for help in navigating these systems."
In addition to finishing her degree at NMSU, Wiebe's husband, mother, sister and brother are also graduates of NMSU along with numerous cousins. NMSU really is in her blood.