UNM regents will consider $450K budget cut - Albuquerque Journal

UNM regents will consider $450K budget cut

Copyright © 2016 Albuquerque Journal

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Bob Frank
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Paul Roth

To reduce costs, the University of New Mexico’s Board of Regents will consider an administrative shuffle that would cut three high-level vacant positions as well as reduce the pay of three administrators.

The expected savings would total about $450,000, according to a report presented to a regents committee earlier this week.

The three pay cuts and all but one eliminated position are on the Health Sciences Center side, though the proposal also calls for some shuffling of main campus positions.

If approved Tuesday at the full board’s monthly meeting, the staffing shakeup would have the potential for future savings. And the change would continue an effort from President Bob Frank’s office to combine operations of the Health Sciences Center, a branch of the university that oversees the hospital and medical education programs, and the rest of campus.

“We’re being deliberate and objective, and at the same time have been able to make good progress in consolidating,” Frank said in a statement.

UNM has a budget of about $2.8 billion for its main and branch campuses and the health sciences center.

Earlier this year, the regents passed a series of policy changes that would make the HSC more accountable to the board and also placed HSC Chancellor Paul Roth more clearly under the authority of university president Frank. Frank and his top administrators – Roth, executive vice president David Harris and Provost Chaouki Abdallah – agreed on the new proposals to cut costs. The suggestions for the staffing shuffle follow an outside review by consulting firm Aon Hewitt of 22 high-level administrative positions on the main campus and at the HSC.

The review made several suggestions for consolidation while also cautioning that there is considerable evidence that health sciences centers are “significantly different” from traditional universities. Any plan to integrate the HSC and main campus, the report noted, should involve great care, as there are “few examples in other institutions where both sides have been effectively integrated,” the report said.

The university took some of the report’s suggestions into consideration in its final proposal.

Notable among the proposed cuts is a roughly $25,000 salary reduction for Ava Lovell, an administrator who tracks the finances of the HSC and earns about $300,000. Earlier this year, Lovell’s income, and raises totalling about $100,000 since 2013, highlighted the debate – and some strife – over the sometimes higher salaries at north campus vs. the main campus.

HSC spokesman Billy Sparks’s pay will be reduced by $5,000 from $150,000 to $145,000. And a current adviser, Vanessa Hawker, who makes $152,000 will be moved from her current position and transferred to one that pays $7,800 less and is currently vacant. Her old position will not be filled, which translates into a $152,000 savings.

A recently vacated position in the HSC marketing department and one in the main campus budget office will be eliminated for a combined savings of roughly $262,000.

The three-regent finance committee – made up of chair Marron Lee, Tom Clifford and student regent Ryan Berryman, who was sitting in for member Rob Doughty – unanimously approved the changes earlier this week with caveats. Lee said she wanted head of human resources Dorothy Anderson to red circle, or freeze, raises for highly paid employees.

The staffing shuffle is the latest effort at UNM to reduce costs due to lower enrollment and cuts in state funding.

In a special Legislative session earlier this month to address a statewide budget deficit, lawmakers slashed the budget of public agencies including universities by 5 percent. Gov. Susana Martinez has until Oct. 26 to act on the bills.

UNM’s main campus needs to slash $9.8 million. More specifically, academic affairs, the portion of the college that handles the majority of instruction, had to reduce its budget about $4.6 million. That department plans to reduce faculty hiring and use nearly $2.4 million from reserves. Frank also issued a hiring freeze on staff positions, save for positions critical to running the university.

The story is similar at the HSC, which is facing $4.6 million in cuts. HSC administrators presented their plans for financial tightening at the regents committee meeting earlier this week.

On the academic side, the schools will slow or cease hiring all together. The school of medicine will delay recruiting for some positions, reduce travel expenses and attempt to increase collections of debt through improved billing practices.

On the hospital side, administrators plan to cut back on overtime hours and stop using traveling medical professionals, a position that often pays twice as much as a traditional position.

Roth, the head of the HSC, added, “The hospital is looking critically at every single position.”

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