FROM THE PRESIDENT’S DESK
April 26, 2017
Over the past several weeks you may have heard about the State of New Mexico not funding higher education. This is a result of the governor line item vetoing the part of the budget that included funding for all public universities and community colleges in New Mexico. I want to assure you that in the ensuing month, this funding will be restored in some format.
A few days ago, the Western New Mexico University Board of Regents addressed the very issue of next year’s budget for the university. Over the past year, our budget has been trimmed by $2.2 million. It is assumed that when the State of New Mexico reinstates the overall budget that our University will lose another $800,000. This means that we will find a means to make the adjustments necessary to make up this shortfall without sacrificing quality. Unfortunately, this involves some very difficult decisions.
Among the decisions needed to meet the new funding realities are two that directly impact students. The first is an increase of about $7 per credit hour for tuition at the undergraduate level. While New Mexico has one of the lowest tuitions in the country, I understand that it is never easy to increase your tuition. Having two children who just completed college, I understand the realities of the price of higher education. But I also understand the costs of hiring great professors and providing the best university experience that we can provide. I asked a number of students about the impact of a tuition increase. The students responded with a preference of this slight increase as opposed to closing programs of study.
The second decision that directly impacts some of you is the closing of three learning centers in Gallup, Truth or Consequences, and Lordsburg. While we will close the centers, we will still have a presence in those communities through distance education and dual enrollment. Our analysis suggested that most students in those areas now enjoy taking classes online as opposed to the face-to-face offerings at the centers.
I wish to reassure you that in spite of our State’s troubled financial times, Western New Mexico University is well-positioned to weather these challenges. We will not sacrifice quality and, in fact, have recently embarked to become New Mexico’s only public liberal arts and sciences university. We will continue to strategically pursue new initiatives and strengthen existing programs. Throughout the past five years we have taken measures to ensure that you will continue to have an education that is competitive with any offered by any other institution. I thank you for your support. I thank you for your belief in us. And I thank you for being a Mustang.
Joseph (Joe) Shepard, Ph.D. President