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NMSU chief seeks new revenue streams

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico State University president Garrey Carruthers says now is the time, in the midst of tough financial predications, to position the university so it can be more financially independent of tax subsidies and tuition hikes.

The school already has announced a substantial reorganization effort aimed at “right sizing” the staffing levels at the school, with its $571.2 million budget.

And on Wednesday, the former New Mexico governor told the Economic Forum of Albuquerque’s monthly meeting that he wants to bring additional private revenue streams to the school so it “won’t have to worry about legislators or tuition.”

“Now is the time to move and take action,” he said.

Top on the list of consideration for development is a piece of land near the school’s golf course, which sits across from Interstate 25 and the school campus.

That parcel is desert except for the 9-hole golf course in the middle of it, said Justin Bannister, NMSU spokesman.

Carruthers said that there is consideration about moving the course to a nearby hill, making it 18 holes and using the land to bring in private development.

He said there is high interest in bringing in a continuum-of-care living facility for retired people as they age into daily care needs.

That could bring in enough revenue, he said, to ease the tension the university, like all publicly subsidized higher education in the state, is feeling with declining state tax revenue on oil and gas and with declining enrollment.

“It’s not inexpensive to do what we do,” Carruthers said. “What really hurts us is declining enrollment.”

Enrollment this fall at the main campus in Las Cruces dropped by 14 percent and the school earlier this year faced a $9.1 million shortfall. Leaders cut and reorganized staffing, implemented a soft hiring freeze and are working on streamlining purchasing procedures, technology services.

They also raised tuition by 2.4 percent.

Carruthers said he is looking at possibly outsourcing the school’s information technology services, which he describes as “fragmented” and thus inefficient.

“I’m not sure we’ll do it, but I’m going to ask about it,” he told the crowd.

University of New Mexico Regent Jamie Koch has also asked his school to look at outsourcing as a possible way to adjust to a budget shortfall of at least $3.5 million.

That school also had a decline in enrollment but regents have roundly rejected a tuition increase.