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Job Cuts, Furloughs Possible at UNM

By Martin Salazar
Journal Staff Writer
       University of New Mexico President David Schmidly on Thursday raised the prospect of ordering mandatory furloughs and eliminating administrative positions, some of which he created.
    While UNM has figured out how to offset recent budget cuts, it faces even more in the new budget year that starts in July, Schmidly said during a regents' Finance and Facilities Committee meeting.
    "We must build a new model that will change the way we work, but not the quality of the work we do," he said.
    Regents had some ideas of their own, including reducing the number of vice president-level positions — which now stands at 21 — and doing without a $120,000 national search for a new UNM Foundation president.
    Schmidly said UNM will also consider ways to restructure and streamline the administration. He also said he's considering mandatory furloughs in case future cuts are too deep to avoid them.
    He called for elimination of all hiring for administrative and staff positions except those critical to UNM's mission, continuing last year's hiring freeze.
    The freeze does not apply to faculty. In fact, Schmidly pointed out that 73 faculty positions have been filled over the last two fiscal years.
    Plummeting state revenues forced lawmakers in October to make cuts throughout state government and in public and higher education. For UNM's main campus, that means a cut of close to $8.4 million from a $200 million state appropriation.
    Fall enrollment growth led to extra tuition money for UNM, and Schmidly said $3 million of that amount would go to offset recent cuts. Another $741,000 will come from reserves and $872,800 from special projects.
    He also plans to use $3.7 million in stimulus funds pledged by Gov. Bill Richardson to help plug the budget hole. That's not sitting well with regent Jamie Koch, who questioned why one-time stimulus money is going toward recurring expenses. He said the move would likely leave UNM no choice but to raise tuition once the funding runs out.
    While Schmidly acknowledged that UNM would have to find replacement funding once the stimulus money is gone, he said it wouldn't necessarily come from a tuition increase.
    Koch also urged Schmidly to save money by not replacing highly paid administrators, such as outgoing UNM Foundation President John Stropp.
    Stropp, who earns $325,000 a year, plans to retire in about six months, and the foundation is planning a national search for his replacement.
    Though the foundation, UNM's fundraising arm, is now an independent entity, UNM gives it money.
    Regents earlier this year also agreed to allow the foundation to take a larger share of endowment revenues to help balance its budget.
    Koch said Thursday that a national search for Stropp's position would cost $120,000. He pointed out that regents were told when Stropp was hired that Michael Kingan, a senior vice president at the foundation, would be groomed to take over when Stropp left.
    Koch said UNM should recommend that the foundation not fill Stropp's position.
    University Counsel Patrick Apodaca has also announced plans to leave, and Koch recommended that the position be filled internally.
    Koch said that UNM has 21 vice presidents, and he suggested that it begin consolidating administrative posts as people in those jobs leave.
    Regent Gene Gallegos asked Schmidly for examples of ways he could restructure and streamline the administrative organization.
    Schmidly said that, when UNM's vice president of branch operations resigned in June to take another job, the position wasn't filled. He said that position — one of several VP posts created by Schmidly when he arrived at UNM — would be a prime position to eliminate. He said there have also been discussions about how to handle Apodaca's position.

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