Board of Regents Meeting
The decision of the Regents not to raise tuition for the 2016-2017 academic year was the most important action taken at the Board meeting on Monday. This decision, coupled with declining enrollment and fewer dollars from the state, means that we will need to reduce our I&G budget by $10.7 million for the coming fiscal year. As noted by the Chancellor in his memo to the NMSU Community on April 4, in deciding on the reductions, we will evaluate all academic and administrative programs that receive I&G funding from the perspective of how important the programs are to our teaching, research, and service mission. Unit leaders and other stakeholders will be involved in these evaluations, and we will try to ensure that program changes designed to reduce expenditures do as little harm as possible to our teaching, research, and service mission.
Employee Council Benefits Forum
Because the Chancellor was under the weather, I stood in for him at the Employee Council on Thursday and answered questions about benefit changes that are being contemplated as part of our budget reductions. Most of the questions and comments centered on our proposal to eliminate the Employee Health Center and to ask the state to open a local health clinic that would serve the needs of our employees and other state employees. As I noted at the meeting, the Employee Health Center is supported by I&G dollars, and it is less central to our research, teaching, and service mission than many other units supported by I&G dollars, such as academic departments. Moreover, the center was established when NMSU was self funding the medical benefits of employees and one of the major purposes of the center was to reduce medical costs. By leaving the center in place when we returned to the state medical plan, the university was no longer the beneficiary of the cost savings; rather, the state enjoys the benefit of the savings. Hence, we are optimistic that State Risk Management will see the wisdom of stepping in and funding a local health clinic similar to the Employee Health Center. Regardless of the rationale behind the proposal to eliminate the Employee Health Center, the employees of the center pointed out the many benefits the center provides to the NMSU Community. They strongly contended that the Employee Health Center supports the research, teaching, and service mission of the university by ensuring that faculty and staff suffering from illness and emotional distress have easy access to high quality medical care. I do not dispute the good work of the center and encouraged employees to send their comments and concerns directly to the Chancellor and me atProvost@nmsu.edu and President@nmsu.edu. As I noted at the meeting, the Chancellor and I are committed to consulting with faculty, staff, and students as we develop plans for budget reductions that do the least possible harm to our core mission and will enable NMSU to better weather future fluctuations in enrollment and state funding.