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UNM to cut up to 100 positions

Copyright © 2015 Albuquerque Journal

University of New Mexico leaders expect to trim up to 100 main campus jobs in response to continued enrollment declines this fall and a resulting loss in tuition revenue, regents were told Friday.

UNM President Bob Frank said the university will cut its workforce by not filling jobs as they become vacant. No layoffs will be required and no staff reductions are planned for the UNM Health Sciences Center or branch campuses.

“We are a few pounds overweight,” Frank told regents. “If we can lose a few pounds, we will be fine.”

UNM’s enrollment this semester is 27,354, down nearly 2 percent from the fall 2014 head count of 27,880 students, resulting in an estimate decline of $1.85 million in tuition revenue and $450,000 in student fees, UNM reported.

UNM’s fall enrollment has dropped about 5.8 percent in five years, from 29,056 in 2011, according to UNM’s official enrollment report.

On the bright side, UNM’s freshman class increased by 6 percent this fall compared to last fall to 3,332 first-time students.

UNM also offered students tuition discounts this year for taking 15 or more credit hours per semester, resulting in a $1.4 million revenue decline. The discount is intended to encourage students to take a full load of classes each semester and graduate more quickly.

In all, UNM projects a nearly $5 million decline in main campus operating revenue to about $325 million in the fiscal year that ends June 30, budget projections show. UNM expects to cover the decline with main campus cost savings, largely from the workforce reductions announced Friday. The main campus operating budget is part of UNM’s total budget of $2.6 billion.

The workforce reduction will affect an estimated 87 to 100 jobs, or just over 2 percent of the main campus workforce, and largely will affect staff positions, though it is likely that some faculty positions also will be eliminated, Frank said. The main campus employs about 1,200 faculty members and 3,000 staff.

“We are going to review every position that comes open in the university,” Frank said after the meeting. “We need to right-size ourselves and recognize that we will have slightly fewer students in the future.”

UNM Regent Jamie Koch said regents plan in December to approve a preliminary 2017 budget that contains no increase from this year’s projected budget containing $325 million for main campus spending. The “flat budget” calls for no tuition increase in 2017, he said.

UNM’s overall enrollment decline continues a statewide trend in which New Mexico’s colleges and universities have reported the steepest enrollment drop in the nation since 2014.

From spring semester 2014 to the spring of this year, enrollment in New Mexico’s post-secondary institutions fell 8.3 percent, compared with a national decline of 1.9 percent, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reported earlier this year.

New Mexico State University has also grappled with budget woes as a result of enrollment declines. Fall semester enrollment at NMSU has dropped nearly 13 percent over five years, to 13,741 students in 2014 from 15,712 students in 2010, the Journal has reported.

In April, NMSU regents approved a 2.4 percent tuition increase and a plan to cut spending by more than $9 million to counter falling revenue caused by enrollment declines. NMSU’s total operating budget is about $571 million.