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Campus News
     
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
March 15, 2004
Volume 39, Number 13

Staff Spotlight
~ Curtis Porter

Hatch native balances budget


By Karen Wentworth

Curt PorterCurt Porter is the tall, cheerful man you see at Board of Regents meetings. He is the one with the numbers – an unassuming man who understands the fine art of putting a budget together and financing projects for a complex institution like the University of New Mexico.

As the university budget director, he combines numbers from the various schools and departments into a budget that makes sense to state lawmakers. He is frequently called on to explain things such as how much it costs to run a research laboratory or why the university really needs more money.

Porter also has expertise in bond issues. UNM has $260 million in outstanding debt and has put seven major bond issues on the market in the past four years. That is a lot of complex financial activity, even for a university with a $1.4 billion budget, but to Porter it made sense to refinance UNM’s debt while interest rates were at their lowest point in decades.

Porter grew up in southern New Mexico, graduating from Hatch High School and thinking about numbers. After he received a master’s in economics from New Mexico State University, he went to Santa Fe to work in the State Budget Office, and to plan how he could get to Washington D.C. to start his financial career with the federal government. But Santa Fe was interesting. He moved to the Legislative Finance Committee to analyze the budgets of the state’s colleges and universities and he was hooked. Lawmakers began to trust his clear-eyed assessments of higher education budgets and he was appointed director of the Legislative Finance Committee, drawing the blueprints for the entire state budget.

Porter says working in Santa Fe aroused his curiosity about local history. He started to read about New Mexico, becoming an amateur historian. He also stretched his wings, heading back to NMSU where he took classes and finished everything but his dissertation for a doctoral degree.

After several years with the Commission on Higher Education and a job running the state Board of Finance, he came to UNM as budget director in 2000. “It’s an interesting job. You never know what is going to happen next,” he says.

Porter says he and his wife Nancy spend their spare time these days reading and hiking. He also keeps an eye on daughter Leslie, who works and attends UNM part time.

Guiding the UNM budget is a long way from Hatch for a boy who liked numbers, but Porter says he is glad to be here.