UNM caught off guard by cost of courtyard makeover


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The University of New Mexico’s Alumni Association had plans to spruce up one area of the campus with its own money.

It hired the contractors and began construction on the project until the Board of Regents stepped in and put the entire thing on hold.

The plan was to revamp the outside of UNM’s Hodgin Hall Alumni Center and name the courtyard after long-time Lobo Karen Abraham, who retired last year after working with the university for nearly half a century. She was also a UNM graduate.

UNM’s Board of Regents says they were OK with the new name and a makeover of the area they thought would only cost $50,000. Then the board found out the actual cost of the project would be between $329,000 – $350,000. The board said it has no problem with UNM’s Alumni Association renovating the area, but said this big of a project required the approval of the board, which the Alumni Association thought  it had.

“We’re not just talking about the area in front of Hodgin Hall,” Regent Marron Lee said. “The work also takes place in front of the Art Annex. We have to know about every major change to our landscape.”

UNM’s Alumni Association operates separately from the university as a non-profit, raising money for the school. But it operates on UNM’s campus.

“I think the confusion and the issue was $50,000 was going to be raised from alums as a contribution,” said Alumni Association Board President James Lewis. “But there was never any intention to deceive the board on this project. This is a gift for the University of New Mexico.”

Lee agrees and says they would love to have the courtyard named after Abraham; but insists the board still has to know the ins-and-outs of a project on university property.

According to Lewis the plans have never changed. He says the project was supposed to be completed in the next three weeks. But now that it’s in a holding pattern, Lewis says they have to meet with contractors to see what it will cost to get them to start back up.

Lewis also says they are also going through “minutes” from previous agenda meetings in which the project was first introduced to the board, to ensure the cost of the project was included.

The Alumni Association will also present the entire project to the Board of Regents on August 18 for another approval.

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