What have the years of Barcelo's leadership wrought? Can President Nancy “Rusty” Barcelo meaningfully demonstrate that she has grown the college, its enrollment, its services to students, its endowment, its academic offerings? Has Barcelo, during her presidency, secured funding for the college? As a matter of empirical fact, the answer to each of these questions is a resounding NO.
In 2014, the NNMC Study Group assembled a core group of accountants and a forensic auditor to conduct a financial analysis of NNMC for the years of Barcelo's presidency: 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. This analysis is based on public New Mexico State Audits from 2010 to 2013. The originals are available in full for download at http://www.nnmcstudygroup.org/budget.html and at the NM Office of the State Auditor website: "Audit Search" [top right] at http://www.saonm.org/audit_reports.
Our analysis found that the Audited Financial Statements show very clearly: 1) a decline in total revenue, 2) a decline in operating revenue, and 3) deep reductions in the college's net assets. Further, in four years, President Barcelo has turned previous surpluses into deficit.
From the NNMC Fact Book (available at http://www.nnmcstudygroup.org/records.html) we note that the massive drop in enrollment (both full-time equivalent and headcount) is directly tied to Barcelo’s 2011 raising of tuition by over 50%—a move that gained the attention of the United States Department of Education. [i] By way of comparison, the year before Barcelo's decision to more than double tuition, NNMC’s enrollment trend was an increase of 18%. [ii] In 2013, NNMC had the lowest headcount of any New Mexico 4-year institution and enrollment continues to drop.[iii]
In addition, most of NNMC’s loss of operating revenue derives from the Administration’s inability to sustain state, local, and other grants and contracts. Sadly, our analysis for 2014 will show even greater grant losses. In 2014, NNMC lost its 40-year old Federal “High School Equivalency Program” (HEP) Grant, the first ever was awarded by the U.S. Department of Education in 1972. This grant was worth approximately $500,000 per year.[iv] Another key grant loss resulted when State Higher Education Department and the U.S. Department of Education Inspector General found that the NNMC Administration had improperly supplanted general operational funds with grant money in 2013. The Federal Department of Education required NNMC to provide reimbursement for unauthorized use of funds.[v] These were not the only losses of grant revenue in 2013 and 2014, but rather, well-documented examples supported by media accounts and direct information from granting agencies.
Indeed, under the leadership of Barcelo, NNMC Administrators have initiated a practice of “borrowing” hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Northern Foundation to cover basic operating expenses.[vi] Although the Northern Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit corporation, whose mission is to raise funds to support student scholarships, NNMC has dipped into the Northern Foundation to cover its institutional expenses.[vii] In July 2014, NNMC even “forgot” to repay the Northern Foundation $125,000 until the issue was under investigation by reporter Ralph Chapoco of The Rio Grande Sun. The relatively lenient terms of the loan—no interest charged on the principal, no collateral assigned to the loan to ensure repayment, and no late fees for failure to repay on time—may have been gained through VP of Advancement Ricky Serna’s relationship to the Northern Foundation’s Treasurer, Liddie Martinez. She is Serna’s aunt. In addition, NNMC President Barcelo is a voting member of the Northern Foundation. The issue of loans from the Foundation to the college was further compounded by the sudden and unexplained resignation of Gabrielle Amster, the Director of the Northern Foundation, in July 2014.[viii]
Fiscal analysis of Barcelo’s tenure clearly shows the downward spiral of NNMC’s total revenue, operating revenue, and net assets. In a paid advertisement in May 2014, President Barcelo wrote: “I understand that some are questioning the stability of the institution. Given recent publicity, I can understand how one might raise such questions, but I also recognize that much of the concern has been based on inaccurate information and misunderstanding … Sadly, misinformation and attacks obstruct opportunities to have civil conversations to address these important issues. This ultimately harms our community relationships and our ability to serve students.”[ix]
In that paid advertisement, President Barcelo avoided any discussion of real numbers, including the NM State Audit Reports from 2010 to 2013. President Nancy "Rusty" Barcelo instead attacked community leaders, concerned students, and committed members of NNMC’s faculty and staff as launching unfounded "attacks" and spreading “misinformation” and “inaccurate information.” We have therefore provided accurate fiscal information on President Barcelo’s tenure that supports the concerns that the community has been raising since Barcelo’s arrival.
[i] “Ed Dept calls out colleges that hiked tuition by 50 percent,” 30 June, 2011. http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/ed-dept-calls-colleges-hiked-tuition-50-percent-183248263.html For more media coverage of the tuition hike, see: http://nnmcstudygroup.weebly.com/news.html —scroll to bottom
[ii] NNMC 2010 Fact Book, p. 7 http://126.96.36.199/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/NNMC-Fact-Book-2010.pdf Also full text of NNMC 2010 Fact Book below.
[iii] See New Mexico Higher Education Department’s “enrollment data for 2013: http://www.hed.state.nm.us/uploads/files/Data%20Research/Enrollment/Fall%20Enrollment%202013%20updated.pdf
[iv] See full story on NNMC’s loss of the federal HEP Grant in 2014 at: http://www.nnmcstudygroup.org/blog/nnmc-to-lose-million-dollar-federal-grant-after-40-continuous-years
[v] See “NNMC Regents Deny Retaliation,” Albuquerque Journal 4 May, 2014. http://www.abqjournal.com/393168/news/nnmc-regents-deny-retaliation.html [vi] See “Northern New Mexico College ‘Forgot’ to Pay Loan to Foundation,” originally published by The Rio Grande Sun, 28 August, 2014, reprinted by The Northern Issue at: http://thenorthernissue.org/2014/09/06/northern-new-mexico-college-forgot-to-pay-loan-to-foundation/
[vii] For more on the Northern Foundation, 501c3, see: http://nnmc.edu/wordpress/?page_id=4479
[viii] See “The Faces of Those We Have Lost” at http://www.nnmcstudygroup.org/blog/faces-of-those-we-have-lost
[ix] See “A Look at NNMC Changes” by Nancy “Rusty” Barcelo 9 May 2014, Journal North http://www.abqjournal.com/396897/north/a-look-at-nnmc-changes.html