Regent Hicks rips former NMSU administration over response letter

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Regent Hicks rips former NMSU administration over response letter

Beginning in July of 2020, all degrees requiring more than 120-credit hours must receive a waiver to ensure timely success of students.

Beginning in July of 2020, all degrees requiring more than 120-credit hours must receive a waiver to ensure timely success of students.

Cassidy Kuester

Beginning in July of 2020, all degrees requiring more than 120-credit hours must receive a waiver to ensure timely success of students.

Cassidy Kuester

Cassidy Kuester

Beginning in July of 2020, all degrees requiring more than 120-credit hours must receive a waiver to ensure timely success of students.

New Mexico State University Board of Regents chair Debra Hicks has responded to the claim made by the previous administration that was led by chancellor Garrey Carruthers, provost Dan Howard and vice president of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Bernadette Montoya. The response alleged that the Regents were made aware more than a year ago that a revamped scholarship program would be more costly than originally anticipated.

Hicks responded via email yesterday.

“It is unfortunate that the former Chancellor feels compelled to continue his misrepresentation of the facts,” Hicks wrote in an email. “This budget information is all in the public record, both in writing and in video.  At no time during the last two budgets, did the former administration disclose the full financial impact of this scholarship program. 

“It was not until the week prior to the March 28, 2018 Regents Strategic Investment Summit meeting that a budget line item was disclosed at $2.0M — far lower than the $5.3M that we are currently estimating.  Since that date, the $2.0M has been consistent in all reports to the Regents. We have chosen to publicly acknowledge the estimated budget shortfall as part of our fiduciary responsibility and look for positive solutions that will balance our financials with full commitment to our student’s success and the future of the University.”

Carruthers, Howard and Montoya all signed off at the bottom of an email in a letter sent out Thursday afternoon that addressed the allegation that the Regents had not informed or properly consulted about the scholarship program or warned of its increased cost by the administration.

The letter also alleges that Regents Kari Mitchell and Jerean Hutchinson were informed in private meetings that the cost overrun for the program would be greater than $2 million. The scholarship program was implemented during the 2017-18 academic year but the letter says that the University did not go into the red because of one-time funds.

The increased cost of the administration of the University (Carruthers made $373,450 as both chancellor and president, compared to Chancellor Dan Arvizu and Floros making a combined $950,000) and the increased cost of running the Office of the Board of Regents has given NMSU less financial flexibility, according to the letter.

The scholarship program in question was one that saw the University increase its Institutional Scholarship Discount Rate by seven percent between fiscal year 2015 and 2018. Despite the student population having decreased each academic year since 2010, the investment in scholarships has continued to increase, which NMSU president John Floros acknowledged was an nonviable model for a University to operate by financially.

“Looking forward, we are going to have to manage that portfolio a lot better because if you have X number of students, you cannot continue to increase the scholarships that you put into that without being able to increase the numbers of students,” Floros said. “If we just continue to put money into scholarships and our student numbers continue to go down, everybody understands that this is not a viable process.”

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