ENMU Facing Budget Cuts

ENMU is currently facing a five percent budget cut for the rest of the 2016-2017 fiscal year. However, the university is prepared for this kind of change.

“[The plan is to determine] essential services first, cut back where you can and then hope the economy turns back around. Always plan ahead for the future, just in case,” said Dennis Roch, a member of the State House of Representatives from District 67.

Colleges and universities in New Mexico are facing a budget Cut because the state’s revenue has decreased from six billion dollars to $431 million since February 2016.

“ENMU is committed to protecting its mission and protecting its people,” according to a letter University President Dr. Steven Gamble sent to the community. “The mission, very simply, is to provide the best educational experience we can to our students.”

The funding for Bond C is based on capital dollars. If Bond C is passed, any money that is left unused after the renovations is unusable. The five percent budget cuts are not affecting the funding for Bond C, as they are coming out of reoccurring funds.

Cuts were made in the state’s budget to make sure that the money spent is not exceeding what is being received in revenue.

“We had already been cut 750,000 dollars in January,” according to Gamble.

This particular budget cut is equivalent to $1.6 million dollars for ENMU alone.

“I think [many] things at the institution will have less funding, but it shouldn’t stop them from providing [a] quality experience to the students,” according to Gamble.

“We, survived the first round of budget cuts, the second round of budget cuts, and the third round of budget cuts. I suspect that [we] will do the same thing. They are very good about that,” according to Greg Senn, a Professor of Art at ENMU.

On Friday October 14, 2016, Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Jaime Laurenz, Vice President of Business Affairs Mr. Scott Smart, and Dr. Gamble met with the Audit Committee to discuss elastic scenarios drafts.

“[Elastic drafts] can stretch one way or another. That will probably be the basis for getting us through this,” said Gamble.

“It will be painful, there is no way to cut that much money without pain but we are going to do it and absolutely protect our mission. If you start compromising your mission you might as well shut your doors, in my opinion and secondly we are going to protect the people,” according to Dr. Gamble.

Since ENMU is protecting their people from this budget cut, they do not need to worry about layoffs and salary cuts.

“If this is prolonged and there are further cuts down the road, then everything I say is subject to revision,” according to Gamble.

“As we looked at the budget and the potential for cuts and so forth this morning we are probably in the best shape of any institution in the state...we want to point out to Dr. Gamble, and [Smart], and their crew, the management that allowed us to get into this position. So we're not laying off, not cutting salaries and there’s one reason for that [and] that’s the management that we’ve seen through finance office, and the entire administration, and faculty,” according to Terry Othick, President of the Board of Regents.

“I think that we’ve done a good job of managing our finances. The university is fairly conservative now with budgets which is something that other universities have not done,” according to Tom Brown, a Professor of Computer Science and the Assistant Dean for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“[The] last thing we want to do is have this cut wind up cancelling classes or closing student programs that are instructional in nature,” said Roch.

ENMU is looking at different ways to reduce costs, including evaluating vacant job positions. The institution is determining how critical vacant positions are to the university. If the position does not need to be filled, it can help ENMU save more money, and it can wait till the next fiscal year to fill it.

Consolidation of positions, which is mentioned in Gamble’s letter, will not affect work study.

“We’re going to end up eliminating some positions, but not people. In other words, if somebody is in a position that is eliminated, then we would transfer that person somewhere else. If that person is going to retire, resign, or anything [similar to that] then we just wouldn’t fill that position,” said Gamble.

“Anytime you get in a situation like this it’s like a three legged stool. You look at your ability to create new revenues; you look at what your reserves are because you can use some of your reserves. Now reserves are one time but they help you in situations like this in the short term and the third leg of that stool is to look at your expenditures so it will be and reduce expenditures accordingly,” according to Scott Smart, the Vice President for Business Affairs.

State Legislatures were in frequent communication with presidents’ of universities in New Mexico.

“There were lots of conversations, lots of negotiation, lots of hours spent getting the package of bills just right to be able to meet the State’s Constitutional Right of Balance,” said Roch.

"I talked to numerous legislators about the impact of cuts on the university. I wanted to make sure they knew that these cuts would be very painful to implement,” said Gamble.

Many students who were interviewed believed their student activities funding will be reduced due to these budget cuts.

“I chose to come here because I felt like the school was very community based, there [is] always something to do. You always feel welcome, and I think if our student activities were cut then it would definitely affect enrollment,” said freshman Tatiana Sonnenberg.

“I feel [the budget cuts] will hurt in many ways [because] a lot of money goes into the programs we have here and if you cut any of that money, it will affect it drastically,” said senior Jessica Castillo.

Students are pleased that ENMU is working hard to protect the students’ educations and their people.

“It was really encouraging [to read] ‘that Eastern is better positioned financially than any other educational institution in New Mexico,’ (referring to Dr. Gamble’s letter to the community.). I feel like under his wings and guidance, that the school has really flourished,” according to junior Hannah Weeks.

All students who were interviewed were shocked to find out the five-percent budget cuts are equivalent to about $1.6 million dollars. The administration and faculty of ENMU have proved that they are going to continue to work hard so the university can continue giving students a quality education.

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