Caldera: University has ‘significant stake’ in legislative session
A message from UNM
President Louis Caldera
“No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.”
Mark Twain’s humorous description of the Congress in the mid-nineteenth century still rings true for many modern readers. Yet, we who work at the University of New Mexico know better the positive impact the legislature can have in building and sustaining a great public institution of higher education. Our endeavors at UNM are proof of the legislature’s ability to accomplish great things on behalf of the people of New Mexico, when it directs its attention to great purposes. For that reason alone we have a significant stake in the annual drama now unfolding for its 46th Session in Santa Fe.
In partnership with the New Mexico Council of University Presidents and the Commission on Higher Education, UNM has for some months been advocating three major general fund priorities: full “formula workload” funding, a 5 percent compensation increase for faculty and staff, and a minimal state-directed increase in student tuition. At Campus News press time the news on these fronts is mostly good: both the executive and legislative budget proposals fully fund the workload, suggest tuition increases lower than last year’s, and signal that there will indeed be compensation increases of some type for faculty and staff. These funding requests are important to the university’s ability to accomplish its educational, research and public service mission.
At the same time, we will be working to accomplish a set of initiatives of specific importance to UNM. We hope to acquire capital outlay funding for new engineering and health science buildings, increased technological capacity and infrastructure, and to free up faculty lines for new hiring through proposed changes to the Educational Retirement Act.
We will also be working with the legislature and governor on their efforts to slow the growth in state Medicaid costs, but we hope in a manner that will least adversely impact University Hospital.
Managing UNM’s legislative agenda will require a great deal of attention from many of us at the university. But I hope that, in their roles as concerned citizens, all members of the university community will take an active interest in the process and be ready to participate as appropriate. That is the way we really can ensure life, liberty, well-being and prosperity, not only for UNM but for all New Mexicans. Go Lobos!
For more information on UNM’s legislative priorities visit http://www.unm.edu/advancement and click on 2004 Legislature.