UNM builds $20 million facility on West Side while higher ed’s budget is cut 5%

The article in the Albuquerque Journal’s “Rio West” section outlines UNM West’s $20 million expansion plans.

The State is mired in a serious budget crunch. Higher education just took a 5 percent hit in the special session held in October. And, New Mexico’s higher education student population is declining rapidly. So, it makes “perfect” sense that UNM Health Sciences Center would be building a $20 million expansion at its West Side campus.

It’s not that the programs and training aren’t necessary or helpful, but New Mexico already spends 6th-most in the nation per student according to 24/7 Wall Street. We simply can’t afford all of these “investments” using taxpayer dollars.

Leslie Morrison’s (listed as a vice-chancellor for academic affairs at UNM Health Sciences Center) comments are particularly enlightening. The facility opened its doors in 2010, yet Morrison stated in defense of the project that “we really wanted to re-energize UNM West, but…it needs more of a focus and it needs to have more students there.”

We couldn’t agree more, but rather than pouring more resources into an ever-expanding array of campuses and branch campuses, it is time for some tough decisions by Legislators and other policymakers. We don’t have enough money to fund what we have. The budget is being reduced and could be reduced even more. Why would we spend even more?