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UNM pushes for separate higher education funding

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University of New Mexico president Bob Frank on Wednesday made a renewed push for three separate funding formulas for higher education institutions at a Legislative Finance Committee meeting on campus.

UNM made a case for having three funding formulas that would put research universities in one category so that they would be evaluated differently. The new state funding formula uses student outcomes such as graduation rates to measure how much state funding universities and colleges get.

Frank argues that research universities have different funding needs from traditional four-year universities and two-year community colleges. New Mexico has three research universities: UNM, New Mexico State and New Mexico Tech.

Central New Mexico Community College president Kathie Winograd said she opposed having three categories.

“My issue is that in a state like New Mexico, we need to put much more energy on how we can partner and cooperate with each other,” Winograd said. She added that New Mexico’s higher education institutions should be competing with other states, not with each other.

The funding formula was developed by the state Higher Education Department in coalition with universities and colleges, and although it’s still being worked on, was first used last year.

HED spokesman Larry Behrens said Wednesday the department was open to hearing UNM’s proposal.

“The priority of the funding formula must first focus on students and their achievement. Leaders of New Mexico’s colleges and universities have been clear. Changes to the formula must be done with consistency and with their input instead of quick or arbitrary adjustments. We are always willing to listen to ideas that will make sense as a system and keep the focus on our students,” he said.

New Mexico Highlands president James Fries, who also presented at the LFC meeting, said he was neutral on the number of formulas.

“So I think that in terms of the formula, my main goals are predictability and some sense of stability. Whatever it’s going to be, whether it’s one formula or three formulas, for God’s sake, let’s just have a formula,” Fries said.

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