The writing programs at New Mexico State University and the University of New Mexico have been impacted by several years of cuts in New Mexico’s higher education budget. As a result, an important student success initiative has been curtailed and fewer students are being served.
Dr. Cristyn Elder, Assistant Professor at the University of New Mexico, described on the listserv of the Council of Writing Program Administrators the effect of the budget cuts in her program:
[A]t UNM we have been assessing our new [Stretch/Studio] program over the past few years since its implementation a few years ago, and the pass rates for our formerly “remedially-placed” students consistently meet or are higher than those students who place into the traditional composition course. We have also saved the university a lot of money, since the remedial courses were taught by faculty from the local community college and the university did not receive state funding for those courses (both aspects making the remedial courses more expensive). Much of our success was because this was a *faculty-initiated* endeavor with upper administration support, rather than a mandate from higher up. However, despite the results in student success that we have been able to measure, we are facing a great financial crisis at the state and institutional level here in New Mexico. Part of the fallout has been a complete cut in funding for the administration of the S/S program (which amounted to $3,000 per year. Yes, you read that correctly.), and the Studio program has been placed on “hiatus” for the coming year (because it costs more than Stretch due to increased contact hours for Studio). These cuts were made from on high without any conversation with those of us involved in the program. [quoted with permission.]
Dr. Lauren Rosenberg, the Writing Program Administrator at New Mexico State University, reports that as a result of the budget cuts their writing program has shrunk. This year the NMSU English Department has almost 1/3 fewer new graduate students, and 1/3 few Graduate Assistants, than in past years. Fewer sections of NMSU’s gen-ed writing courses are being offered.
Although the New Mexico overall state budget has show recent improvement, the budget for higher education will most likely continue to shrink due to fewer students graduating from high schools and fewer scholarships being funding by New Mexico’s lottery.