Policymakers | Costs

New Mexico to weigh consolidation of state’s colleges and universities

EDUCATION DIVE   |  August 7, 2017 by Autumn A. Arnett

Dive Brief

  • State officials in New Mexico are weighing the benefits of reorganization or consolidation of the state’s 31 public colleges and universities, which presently operate under 21 governing boards.  
  • The inquisition comes after Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed the entire higher ed budget for the coming year before finally coming to a compromise agreement, the Las Cruces Sun-News reports. 
  • The paper’s editorial board, acknowledging the local impact of colleges and universities to individual communities, is urging readers to get behind the idea of consolidation and support “focus[ing] those dollars where they will do the most good.” 

Dive Insight

Looking to Georgia and Texas as national models, more and more states are beginning to weigh the benefits of consolidation as a cost-saving measure. Recently, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni released a report urging campus administrators to rein in administrative spending — an idea which is at the heart of merger proposals for many legislators. University of Maryland System Chancellor Robert Caret said in a December meeting that the cost of educating students has not gone up in the last 40 years, but the cost of attracting students to campus has skyrocketed. 

As institutions try to balance a declining feeder population, the amenities arms race, the cost of education is increasingly under scrutiny. And without demonstrable ROI, state houses are less and less willing to foot the bill. There were 1,166 school closures between 1992-2012 — the most recent year for which data is available — and in 2015, Moody’s predicted the rate of closure would triple by 2017. Administrators can get ahead of this trend by finding ways to cut out excesses before state officials intervene. 


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