WNMU Regents made budget adjustments, approved green energy project

Western New Mexico University board members approved an amended budget for fiscal year 2020-2021 and voted to continue advancing the university toward its energy efficiency goals in a meeting on Thursday morning . They also heard from WNMU President Dr Joseph Shepard, who reported on plans to reopen the university using a hybrid model this fall.

“We will not create a zero probability of COVID, but we can be careful,” he said. “This could all change in no time, based on the governor’s orders. “

The board approved a budget adjustment request for fiscal year 2020-2021 to reduce state appropriations based on House Bill 1 passed in the 2020 Special Legislative Session. Decreases were made to the Instruction and General, Athletics and Public Service funds for a total decrease of $ 2,344,900. The amended budget removes the 4% pay increases provided for in the House Bill 2 during the 2020 legislative session and cuts other expenses to make up for lost revenue.

“My problem is not this budget. My problem is next year’s budget, ”President Shepard said. “We need to think about January and February of the next legislative session and, more importantly, the next fiscal year, which is why we are prioritizing programs.”

Dr Mary Hotvedt, the most recent board member, said that while the planned increases in faculty and staff have not been possible this year, “we are committed as a university to maintain 80% insurance coverage level for faculty and staff. ”

The New Mexico Scholarship will still be funded, albeit in a lesser way. “It was reduced from $ 12 million to $ 5 million. The higher education department manages these numbers and what that means in terms of allocation. Because we are offering certificates and associated diplomas, we will be eligible to receive a portion of these funds, ”said President Shepard.

The board also approved the transmission of a capital project for an energy performance project. Campus-wide program that adds LED lighting, fixes air leaks, updates HVAC systems and controls, includes two solar carport structures, optimizes kitchen ventilation in the dining room. “We estimate a return on investment over 25 years with an interest of 2.84%, which leaves us with an annual capital contribution from the university of $ 85,000, which we would be able to manage without any worry of my. share, ”said Kelley Riddle, vice president of business affairs. .

Regent student Tim Stillman, who had offered to table this item at the previous meeting, said his questions and concerns were allayed after meeting with project engineers. “I didn’t understand part of the language, but I understand it now and I support this project,” he said.

The chairman of the regent, Jerry Walz, asked if it was not better to wait to implement such a project, given the rapid technological advances in solar energy in particular. “The project would not be approved by the state if it felt these elements would disappear sooner than our funding,” Riddle replied.

President Shepard has expressed his desire to upgrade WNMU to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification and carbon neutrality. “Instead of giving it to the utility company, let’s give it to ourselves. As a university, we are making progress in the area of ​​green energy and environmental sustainability, ”he said.

Dr Shepard asked faculty and staff chairs to present the work their respective working groups are doing to review programs and assess each department’s contributions to the mission and overall goals of the WNMU.

The faculty’s program review methodology committee meets weekly throughout the summer to develop a program prioritization process. “Knowing that we will have extreme budget deficits, are there any programs that we need to review? There are ten criteria that we look at. We have excellent documentation from 2014, when this was last done at WNMU, ”said Dr Susan McFeaters, who heads the working group.

Senate Speaker Michael Acosta said he also heads a program review and restructuring committee.
In accordance with protocols intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the meeting was held on Zoom. The board of directors will meet on July 20, when the regents have also scheduled a workshop.

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