Sunday, December 20, 2009
Schmidly Looking at Trimming Back His Expanded Administration
By Martin Salazar
Copyright © 2009 Albuquerque Journal
Journal Staff Writer
As David Schmidly was preparing to take over as president of the University of New Mexico in 2007, he made no secret of his plans to expand the administrative lineup.
More than two years and eight new vice president positions later, Schmidly says it may be time to start trimming back the hierarchy.
UNM has 19 vice presidents, with compensation packages totaling more than $4.49 million. Those totals don't include the chief university counsel or chief information officer, who are often considered to be at the same administrative level and whose compensation packages together total $438,000.
While Schmidly said early in his tenure that creating vice president positions to help boost enrollment, get the Rio Rancho campus off the ground and to turn UNM's diversity into a strength were crucial to UNM's longterm success, he now acknowledges the do-more-with-less mandate coming from the state.
"Further cost reductions will necessitate fundamental restructuring of the organization and how it fulfills its mission," Schmidly said in a written statement to the Journal. "I have no doubt that in the near future, the number of vice presidencies will decline."
The vice president totals also don't include the UNM Foundation, the university fundraising arm that was turned into a separate legal entity at Schmidly's behest. The foundation receives its operating money through an agreement between its board of trustees and regents.
While the foundation had been led by a single vice president under UNM's umbrella, its current team includes a president, a senior vice president and two regular vice presidents, with compensation packages totaling about $900,000.
If all those positions are added to the mix, UNM and the UNM Foundation have a combined 25 vice president positions with compensation packages totaling more than $5.8 million. That includes salary, deferred compensation and automobile allowances but not fringe benefits such as retirement and health benefits.
In recent years, the percentage of UNM's budget spent on administration has increased while the percentage spent on the core mission — teaching, research and public service — has been going down.
During his first year as president, Schmidly, who earns $594,600 a year, invested in a number of initiatives.
He earmarked $800,000 for two new divisions — institutional diversity and enrollment management — both of which came with vice presidents.
He engaged a high-powered Washington, D.C., consultant to serve as a media strategist and to help fine tune the university's public relations department, at a cost of $152,000 a year. And he created the post of vice president for Rio Rancho operations and branch academic affairs to help get UNM's new Rio Rancho campus off the ground.
The spending didn't go unnoticed.
A Council of University Presidents Performance Effectiveness Report submitted to the Legislative Finance Committee this month reveals a trend troubling to faculty.
The percentage of the UNM budget allocated to administrative costs increased by nine-tenths of a percent during Schmidly's first full year as president; $5.8 million more was spent on administrative expenses during the 2007-08 fiscal year than the previous year. That includes everything from executive salaries and accounting functions to public relations and legal fees.
During that same period, the percent of fiscal resources allocated to instruction, research and public service declined by 1.3 percentage points, or $16.7 million.
About $750 million of UNM's more than $2 billion budget was included in the analysis. Excluded were independent operations like the hospital, athletics, the branch campuses and all self-supporting activities.
But the report shows that, despite Schmidly's changes, UNM is on par with other peer institutions on its spending.
It shows the 7.3 percent of UNM's fiscal resources going to administrative costs is only slightly higher than the average 7.2 percent its peers are spending. Also, the 72 percent of fiscal resources UNM spent on instruction, research and public service is nearly two percentage points above its peer institutions.
Still, since the 2003/04 fiscal year, administrative spending has increased, while spending on instruction, research and public service has decreased.
UNM faculty in recent years have complained about the growing administration, and earlier this year voted no confidence in Schmidly.
Schmidly, meanwhile, has spent the last year trying to offset state cuts without affecting the classroom, imposing a partial hiring freeze for all but faculty positions. He has gotten rid of his Washington, D.C., media consultant and did not fill the position of Rio Rancho operations vice president when it became vacant in June.
"The Performance Effectiveness Report data goes through FY 2008," said university spokeswoman Susan McKinsey. "Since that time, University administration (spending) has been cut $2.3 million."
McKinsey said UNM is a more complex organization than it was in 2003.
"In that time, its budget has grown from $1.2 billion to $2.2 billion, with the need for personnel to handle the growth," she said.
Seven of the eight new vice president positions at UNM were added during Schmidly's first six months as president. Some positions already existed and were simply elevated; others were created.
The athletics director position, for example, was elevated to a VP. The vice president positions for institutional support services, Rio Rancho operations, enrollment management, equity & inclusion and Health Sciences Center diversity were new.
McKinsey stressed that the vice presidents for finance, human resources and institutional support services now oversee both main campus and the Health Sciences Center, due to an administrative consolidation. The people in those positions have taken on increased responsibilities, she said.
Some of those hired by Schmidly were given three-year contracts, like Jozi De Leon, vice president for diversity; former Rio Rancho vice president Marc Nigliazzo; Provost Suzanne Ortega; and Vice President for Enrollment Management Carmen Alvarez Brown.
The organizational chart at UNM's Health Sciences Center lists eight vice president positions, though six existed before Schmidly took over. Also worth noting is that Steve McKernan, one of the vice presidents listed, isn't paid by UNM, but by the hospital. Also, John Trotter, vice president for Health Sciences Center academic affairs, is a quarter-time employee.
One of the new vice presidents, Pug Burge, was an associate vice president whose position is in the process of being elevated, said HSC spokesman Billy Sparks. Sparks said the new job title doesn't come with a pay hike. "Only 11 percent of the UNM Health Sciences Center revenue is generated from state funds from direct general fund appropriations," Sparks said.
UNM's administrative structure drew pointed remarks from Regent Jamie Koch earlier this month. Koch said UNM has 21 vice president positions — including the CIO and university counsel — and he recommended that Schmidly consolidate and eliminate some of them as people leave.
University Counsel Patrick Apodaca is leaving, and UNM Foundation President John Stropp plans to retire around June 30.
"There have been a lot of concerns about the vice presidents and obviously their compensation, and I hope that as these vacancies come up that we look strongly at not filling them and let other people take the responsibility," Koch told the Journal.
Koch has recommended that Schmidly encourage the foundation to consolidate Stropp's position with one of the vice president posts there.