Regents Minutes - March 2014
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
Board of Regents
1:30 p.m., Thursday, March 13, 2014Fidel Center, Ballroom C New Mexico Tech Campus Socorro, New Mexico
The New Mexico Tech Board of Regents convened at 1:41 p.m., with Board of Regents Secretary-Treasurer Jerry A. Armijo presiding in the absence of Chairman Richard N. Carpenter. Other Board members present were Regent Debra Hicks, Regent Deborah Peacock, and Student Regent Israel Rodriguez-Rios. University administrators, staff, and guests who were also present included:
- Daniel H. López
- Mary Dezember
- Lonnie Marquez
- Richard Cervantes
- Lala Garcia
- Mark Adams
- Robert Lee
- Greer Price
- Ifan Payne
- Colleen Guengerich
- Tony Ortiz
- Reynaldo Maestas
- Miguel Hidalgo
- Emma Aafloy
- Lorie Liebrock
- Thomas Engler
- Mona Torres
- Thom Guengerich
- Valerie Kimble
- George Murillo
1. Proof of Meeting Notice. The meeting was called to order at 1:41 p.m. by Chairman Armijo after the President affirmed that proper legal notice had been given.
2. Approval of the Agenda. The Agenda was approved as presented on a motion by Regent Hicks and a second from Regent Peacock. The motion passed unanimously.
3. Minutes. Regent Hicks moved to accept the Minutes for the meeting of Feb. 14. Regent Hicks seconded the motion, and it was unanimously approved.
Enrollment Updates. President López reported both good and bad news – enrollment is up, but the downside is maintaining services with constrained budgets. Admission Director Tony Ortiz provided details: Paid enrollments number 240, compared with 211 last year. As part of plans to turn its applicant pool into “paids,” the Admission Office is contacting students personally. New Associate Director Reynaldo Maestas signed two additional paid applicants just hours earlier, Ortiz said. Chairman Armijo commended Ortiz for a “fabulous job.” The Chair noted that paid enrollments for Hispanic students accounted for 35 percent of the total for Fall 2014. “I can’t take credit for that,” Ortiz replied, explaining that the office is building on outreach efforts in New Mexico and parts of Texas, with additional follow-up. In reply to a question from Regent Rodriguez-Rios, President López said the $50 admission fee “is really the best predictor of what number of enrollees we’ll end up with.” In responding to the Regents’ request for a brief bio, Mr. Maestas said he attended community college on a high school rodeo scholarship before earning BA and MA degrees at NMHU. He previously worked in recruitment for the UNM School of Medicine. “I’m very excited to be a part of the Tech family,” he said.
Legislative Update. The 30-day session was primarily a funding cycle, the President reported. The funding formula developed by the Higher Education Department (HED) was flawed, in a number of ways but particularly because it put too much of the funding in an “at-risk” category. This would have made it very difficult to construct a budget at the start of the fiscal year due to the uncertainty of the actual funding level that would be available at the end of the fiscal year. An alternative formula was developed by the Council of University Presidents (CUP), and adopted, but it was not properly funded. STEM, research, closing the achievement gap, completion rates and graduation rates are the five key components that drive this new formula, in addition to a matrix with funding values for each of these components. As an example, for each formula component value, said the President, universities may receive an additional bump in funding for students who complete 30 hours in a two year program and 60 hours in a four year program. Thus, the formula is tied to student success for each of these components. However, he said, none of these components are funded at a level based on real costs, forcing the University to deal with true costs internally. In other action, the Legislature:
- Authorized the University to seek $15 million in General Obligation bond funding to build a new chemistry facility;
- Appropriated $100,000 for the Geophysical Research Center (GRC), which will help subsidize faculty;
- Lowered the formula’s value for research from 1.0 percent to .07 percent, a $270,000 loss for the University; Increased I&G funding by $500,000;
- Appropriated $100,000 for EMRTC, which will mostly pass through; and $60,000 for the Supercomputing Challenge; again, pass-through funds.
The University’s share of capital outlay funds includes $90,000 for the MRO, $75,000 to help develop a parking lot on the south side of campus, and $25,000 for a lot of upgrades on the north. President López introduced the issue of raising tuition, saying that he recently met with students, at their request, to discuss the student’s request for a 6 percent tuition hike to boost salaries for the University’s lowest-paid employees, and to raise faculty salaries. Noting that the state frowns on raising tuition, the President said he agreed to recommend a tuition increase of 5 percent to Regents at a later time. The Legislature passed a 1.5 percent raise for state employees that the University will match, and he will recommend to the Board a 3 percent raise for employees, with Academic Affairs allowed to determine how raises will be allocated for faculty on their side of the house; i.e., merit, compression. Regents will have final authority in approving the level of raises. The Lottery Scholarship survived the session, but will not continue under its current construct next year. The Governor has several provisions: limiting the scholarship to seven semesters, mandating that students take a minimum of 15 credit hours per semester; and an option to reduce allotments to a particular percentage based on availability of funds. Chairman Armijo suggested that the University prepare to have strong academic advising for freshmen to deal with the changes in the Lottery Scholarship. Regent Rodriguez-Rios responded to this issue, saying that he was pleased at the positive changes in the Office of Student Learning since his early days as a Tech student.
Thus far, it appears the University can fund three, tenure-track positions, and is committed to institutionalizing several positions funded by federal grants and which are due to expire. President López has asked Dr. Dezember to work with Budget and Analysis on the issue. The search for a new Vice President for Academic Affairs continues under a well-balanced committee that will provide President López with no more than five and no less than three names of candidates to interview. So far, the search has drawn five internal applicants, one from UNM and a number of others from out of state.
President’s Goals. The President gave Regents a copy of his proposed goals for the year, asking the Board to add, subtract or otherwise modify the list of goals as they see fit by the next meeting. In the meantime, his report on the 2013 goals will be given to the Board in advance of the meeting on April 13.
Sabbatical Leave Requests. Dr. Dezember reported sabbatical leave granted for four faculty, noting that all their classes will be covered, where necessary. Dr. Ken Eack, Physics, and Dr. Rafael Lara-Matinez, CLASS, will take their sabbaticals over the fall semester. Those on sabbatical for a year are Dr. Bhaskar Majumdar, Materials Engineering, and Dr. Bixiang Wang, Mathematics.
Faculty Senate Update. The Faculty Senate is grateful for the influx of funding for the GRC; and is willing to help write policy for new security policies, reported Dr. Sonnenfeld. The Budget Committee is working with Ms. Montazeri on temporary summer hires; Dr. Sonnenfeld said he appreciated her professional attitude and thanked Dr. Dezember for recommending that faculty work with her.
Construction Update. Construction on the new Bureau of Geology building is 30 days ahead of schedule as of today, reported Miguel Hidalgo, while $4 million of the project’s $20 million budget has been spent and with no change-orders. Mr. Hidalgo recognized Bureau Director Greer Price for working within the budget regarding furnishings, which will be let out to bid soon. The project has drawn the interest of the University’s engineering students, many of whom come to see, first-hand, applications of the theories they study in the classroom. As many as 20 to 30 students will gather at the site on Friday afternoons, he said. By the next meeting, he will have information on a $1 million project to revamp the southern façade of Macey Center, a project that is expected to come in under budget. President López said any fund savings from this project will be used to bid for architectural services for the new chemistry building. “Even if the bond fails (this year), that building will be built,” he said.
Public Comment. None.
6. NM Tech Employee Benefit Trust Audit. Mr. Marquez reported that aaudit was issued for the period ending June 30, 2013, because the Trust has not received an actuarial liability report as required; a change in administrators caused an unplanned delay. There were no highlights, he said; “it was a tough year.” Regent Peacock moved to accept the audit report for the Trust. Regent Rodriguez-Rios seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously. Financial Analysis for January 2014. Mr. Marquez reported that revenue is ahead of budget, with overhead, and tuition and fees exceeding last year’s total. Research revenues are $5.8 million compared with $4.9 million in 2013, with the exception of the GRC. Research and Public Service Projects (RPSP) total $437,000 compared with $417,000 in 2013. ISD is operating at a $97,000 deficit and the Playas debt continues to be paid down. The University no longer is making the $65,000-per-month payments as originally established, Mona Torres, G&C manager for EMRTC, told the Board. The amount promised was more ambitious than was feasible, so payments now are being made quarterly. She estimated that $100,000 per quarter was more realistic, and that she would provide Regents with a full report at their next meeting. The unpaid balance is just under $4 million. In response to a question, Mr. Marquez said the University is in the design and planning stage of developing an 80-space parking lot on the south side of campus. Regent Rodriguez-Rios then suggested that more parking spaces be designated as Handicapped, that parking at the Fidel Center had only one Handicapped space. Mr. Marquez said he was not aware of the issue, and would have Facilities Management do an inventory of Handicapped parking on campus. Regent Hicks moved to accept the financial analysis for January, followed by a second from Regent Peacock. The motion passed unanimously.
Bank Resolutions. Mr. Marquez reported that Ms. Jaramillo-Fleming will be added as signor on two University bank accounts, replacing former signatory Peter Gerity. Regent Hicks moved to approve the bank resolution. Regent Peacock seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously.
Property Items to be Removed from Inventory: Resolution 140313-01, 140313-02, 140313-03 and 140313-04. The four property resolutions were introduced by Byron Whitehorse of the Property Department and voted on separately as follows.
- Resolution 140313-01, to approve removal of property items under $5,000. Regent Hicks moved for approval. Regent Peacock seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.
- Resolution 140313-02, to approve removal of property items over $5,000. Regent Peacock moved for approval. Regent Hicks seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.
- Resolution 140313-03, to approve removal of property items under $5,000. Regent Peacock moved for approval. Regent Hicks seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.
- Resolution 140313-04, to approve removal of property items over $5,000. Regent Rodriguez-Rios moved for approval. Regent Hicks seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously.
February Degree Conferrals. Regents were informed that two bachelor of science degrees, seven master of science degrees and one doctorate degree were conferred in February.
Individual Board Member Comments. Regent Rodriguez-Rios introduced the idea of awarding a posthumous degree to engineering student Robert Cook, who died in an auto accident in February. Cook was a fourth-year student who lacked one semester to graduate. After some discussion, President López proposed that the University award the degree, and he urged faculty to make a recommendation to that effect.
New Business. None
Employee Benefit Trust. The Board convened as the Benefit Trust, with Mr. Marquez reporting some headway, with $300,000 in outstanding bills and $230,000 in excess-loss reimbursement. “We’ve started to build up a cash balance, which gives us a glimmer of hope, but we’re still operating at a deficit,” he said.
Possible Executive Session, NMSA 1978 Section 10-15-1 (H) (2); (If Required to Consider Legal and/or Personnel Matters). N/A.
Reconvene in Open Session and Report on Final Action, if any, on Such Limited Personnel
Matters in Open Session Following Conclusion of the Closed Session. N/A.
Adjournment. The meeting was adjourned by acclamation at 2:45 p.m.