During a virtual meeting Wednesday morning, the Western New Mexico University Board of Regents approved a fiscal year 2020-2021 budget to present to the New Mexico Higher Education Department by the Friday deadline but expects it will be necessary to change the budget once the legislature meets in special session to determine the overall state finances.
WNMU President Dr. Joseph Shepard announced that WNMU will move commencement to a virtual live ceremony on Friday, May 29. “We’re going to Zoom all 300 plus participants,” President Shepard said.
President Shepard also reported that the university is making plans for the return of employees and students this fall or when the state’s stay at home recommendations are lifted. “I suspect we’ll have to manage our class sizes. I expect the faculty might continue a hybrid method. We’re sensitive to maximizing the health and minimizing the risk of our faculty, staff, students and community as well,” he said.
Regent Dr. Mary Hotvedt said she and student regent Tim Stillman reviewed the proposed budget with Vice President Kelley Riddle and sanctioned it, understanding this version is temporary.
“We have to approve a budget based on the numbers we know of,” President Shepard said. “Taken into account in this particular budget was a decrease of about 5%. The university expects a 5% decrease in fall enrollment as of now.”
Vice President of Academic Affairs/Provost Jack Crocker presented faculty for promotion and tenure — asking that six be promoted from assistant professor to associate professor, four move from associate professor to professor, and one receive tenure. Presenting the list of faculty members who underwent post-tenure review, Dr. Crocker suggested the six continue with tenured status. Regents approved the recommendations.
The board approved the addition of two programs: a Master of Arts in History and the state’s only Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education: Trauma-Informed Practices. Regents also approved changes to the faculty and student handbooks as well as the staff senate constitution.
When presenting the review of the alcohol and other drugs programs and policies, a requirement of institutions who participate in the federal Drug-Free Schools and Campuses program, Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Dr. Isaac Brundage said, WNMU saw a decrease in the number of alcohol and drug related cases on campus.
Speaking on behalf of the WNMU Board of Regents’ Finance Committee, which met Monday, Stillman expressed concerns about approving a $7 million capital transmittal for the proposed Energy Performance Project, moving to table the motion due to the current circumstances and the project’s price tag. Regent Dr. Carl Foster seconded the motion, and the regents all agreed to table that action item.
Riddle discussed the Five-Year Capital Outlay Projects & Infrastructure & Capital Projects document that will be presented to the state higher education department this summer — a list the members of the board approved unanimously. The board approved a change to the Final Budget Adjustment request, which the finance committee reviewed prior to the regular session, also approving disposal of computer hardware and equipment totaling $776,906.90.
To their Resolution Adopting Notice Procedures Pursuant to the NM Open Meetings Act, the board added virtual or video conference as a method of participating in WNMU Board of Regents meetings. The previous resolution only addressed telephonic meetings.
The board elected Jerry Walz as Chair, Dr. Hotvedt as Vice Chair and Stillman as Secretary/Treasurer. Walz announced he would serve on the board only through the end of the year. “I promise I’m going to do my very best in the next seven months. I’m going to go all out,” he said.