June 30, 2016

UNM employees facing possible elimination

Several employees and positions at the University of New Mexico are under review for potential elimination in an effort to consolidate positions between the university’s main campus and the Health Sciences Center.

At least 21 employees between main campus and HSC received letters earlier this month with “UNM and HSC Consolidation/Alignment” as the subject.

The reviews come three months after a controversial change to the governance of HSC. Earlier this year, UNM’s Board of Regents voted to bring the HSC under more direct control of the regents.

UNM Regent President Rob Doughty, who with Regent Marron Lee authored the changes, at the time said the governance changes wouldn’t affect employees.

“It’s going to have no effect on students, no effect on employees whatsoever, no effect on anything other than the ultimate management from the board,” Doughty told reporters in June.

Dianne Anderson, a spokeswoman with UNM, wrote in an email that the positions under review are “part of the University’s cost efficiency efforts.” NM Political Report asked for more details on the evaluations and possible changes and will add any response we receive.

“As the President announced earlier this year, the University is looking at areas for possible consolidation, integration and coordination that will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of shared functions between Main Campus and HSC,” Dianne Anderson said in a prepared statement.

Budget woes from the state meant UNM received $8 million less than usual this year. And this spring, Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration targeted UNM Hospital for the biggest share of Medicaid cuts across the state.

UNM’s vice president of Human Resources Dorothy Anderson wrote the letters in early June and notified the employees that they would be getting six-month contract renewals instead of the typical 12-month renewal.

NM Political Report obtained one of the letters written to Ava Lovell, HSC’s executive officer of finance and administration.

“Because you work in one of the areas under review, your position will be among those evaluated,” according to the letter to Lovell. “In relation to this evaluation, it is necessary that your [fiscal year 2017] employment contract be renewed for only six months; therefore it will run from July 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016, in accordance with University Administrative Policy 3240.”

In the letter, Dorothy Anderson wrote that the evaluation “may indicate opportunities for consolidation, or for more integration or better coordination among functions, as is most appropriate.”

It’s unclear exactly what the evaluations will entail. Dorothy Anderson writes that the evaluations should be finished by September and that they may not always result in cutting staff or jobs. But she adds that the evaluations aren’t targeting underperforming employees.

“I want to stress that this evaluation has to do with overall staffing analysis, not with individual performance,” she wrote. “Decisions regarding organizational structure will be made in the best interest of UNM.”

Dianne Anderson confirmed in an email that 21 employees between HSC and main campus received the letters. She lists the departments affected as information technology, communications, finance, legal and strategic.

She added that consultants will be conducting the reviews.

“The consultants will provide options for possible consolidation/alignment to senior leadership based on the information they collect,” she wrote. “Senior leadership will make final decisions.”

A source with knowledge of the situation who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation provided NM Political Report with names of some of the employees targeted. They are:

Ava Lovell – Sr. Executive Officer Finance and Administration – HSC

Michael Schwantes – Chief Financial Services Officer – HSC

Robert Fondino – Chief Budget and Facilities Officer – HSC

Ryan Cangiolosi – Chief Strategic Advisor – HSC

Vanessa Hawker – Chief Strategic Advisor – HSC

Billy Sparks – Executive Director Communications & Marketing – HSC

Stuart Freedman – Chief HSC Compliance Officer

Andrew Cullen – Associate VP Planning, Budget & Analysis – Main

Elizabeth Metzger – University Controller

Julian Sandoval – Chief Financial Services Officer – Main

Adam Weeks – Executive Project Director – Main

Gilbert Gonzales – Chief Information Officer – Main

Duane Arruti – Director, Core IT Svcs – Main

Brian Pietrewicz – Director, Core IT Svcs – Main

Steven Perry – Director, Core IT Svcs – Main

Cinnamon Blair – Chief University Marketing & Comm Officer – Main

Argyro Maniatis – Director, University Marketing – Main

Four employees, according to the source, are not on contract but are being reviewed as well. They are:

Kevin Stevenson – Strategic Planner – Main President’s Office

Melissa Vargas – Strategic Planner – Main Provosts Office

Nicole Elzy – Strategic Planner – HSC Chancellor’s Office

Mary Jacintha – Strategic Planner – HSC Health System Office

The consolidation effort comes three months after the UNM Board of Regents eliminated the HSC Board of Directors, which helped make decisions for HSC. The board included two community members vocally in support of a new adult hospital. Community members are not in the new governance. Instead, a three-member subcommittee made up fully of regents replaces the board.

The regents who pushed for the change to HSC’s governance argued the changes were motivated by HSC becoming too independent from the main campus.

Critics, however, pointed to main campuses financial and enrollment problems and HSC’s $220 million of stockpiled money earmarked for a new hospital. Gov. Susana Martinez, who has appointed or reappointed all the regents, has previously opposed building a new adult hospital.

UPDATE 3pm: Added quotes and context from UNM spokeswoman Dianne Anderson.

Read the letter below:

Lovell, A. by New Mexico Political Report