UNM-LA Facing Challenges Yet Creating Opportunities

June 29, to review and approve a Budget Adjustment Request (BAR) for FY21. With the recent State Legislative special session where projected funding for higher education was reduced, the NM Higher Education Department required all higher education institutions to create budget adjustments.

The result of the special legislative session was a cut of 10% in state funding to UNM-LA. The original state funding was $2,027,200, while the revised funding will be $1,824,372, a difference of $202,828.  

The BAR for UNM-LA includes a total decrease in Instruction and General revenues of $417,477, based on the decreased state funding, an anticipated reduction in tuition from potential enrollment declines, and other declines in revenues. 

To address these reductions in income, UNM-LA plans to reduce expenditures by focusing only on “mission critical” initiatives, reorganizing areas to achieve efficiencies, providing cuts in instruction expenses to parallel decreased enrollment, and incorporating a hiring moratorium on vacant positions. With these adjustments, UNM-LA anticipates addressing 70% of the budget shortfall; the remaining 30% will be budgeted from reserves. 

Numerous planning discussions related to the expectation of the revenue cuts occurred, and the clear goals for the campus are to continue to provide quality education to students in a safe environment and to support the academic and workforce needs of our community. UNM-LA carefully looked at expenditure reductions that could be implemented without impacting their strategic priorities. 

“Unfortunately, a large reduction was the elimination of the 4% compensation increase and related benefits, which the state had partially funded in their original budget, shared UNM-LA Chancellor Dr. Cynthia Rooney. “In the most recent legislative session, no increase was funded for higher education employees. We are extremely thankful for our dedicated and talented employees and had hoped to be able to provide this additional compensation.”

“The proposed BAR provides a balanced budget without any layoffs or furloughs as this time,” Director of Business Operations, Bob Harmon told the UNM-LA Advisory Board. “In this uncertain time, additional adjustments may be needed later during FY21 depending on enrollments, potential changes in the state funding due to state revenue fluctuations, and other revenue possibilities that the campus is pursuing.” 

Despite the budget challenges, UNM-LA is committed to offering a variety of quality classes this fall. Most will be online classes with enrollments of less than 30 so that the students will still benefit from small class sizes. Face-to-face and hybrid classes will also be offered with COVID-19 safety precautions in place and contingency plans for the uncertainties that the fall may bring. 

In this period of constant change, UNM-LA is committed to creating opportunities for the students and community. Rooney continued, “Higher education is changing, not just for the fall semester, but beyond as we deal with meeting the educational needs to fuel individual success and an economic recovery.” 

The UNM-LA admissions team is working remotely to assist both first time and continuing students who are interested in making progress toward their goals. Students want a safe, quality, and affordable education. Some are looking to complete transferable general education requirements. Others are looking to “change careers.” Many students are facing uncertainty about their initial plan for college. Rooney continued, “We encourage students to consider our campus as a place they can stay close to home and make progress toward their educational goals.”

UNM-Los Alamos is an innovative, rigorous, and affordable comprehensive branch community college that provides foundations for transfer, leading-edge career programs, and lifelong learning opportunities. More information about UNM-Los Alamos is available at losalamos.unm.edu. 


Photos recorded from Zoom video conference:


UNM-LA Director of Business Operations, Bob Harmon explained the budget revisions to the Advisory Board. Also pictured on the screen are UNM-LA Board member Laura Burrows, UNM-LA Dean of Instruction Dr. Sharon Hurley, Executive Assistant to the Chancellor Laci Taylor, and Board member David Sutton.


UNM-LA Chancellor Dr. Cindy Rooney added clarification about the decisions made regarding reductions in the UNM-LA budget for FY21.