In a state where colleges are short money every year and tuition is constantly going up, the idea of spending more than $600,000 to build a swanky new home for a university president is raising eyebrows.
Last Friday, the Eastern New Mexico University Board of Regents unanimously approved plans to build a new house for the president. It’s been the source of controversy over the past few months.
“It’s just sad to see that all money that could’ve been going to our pockets to help us pay for books or just anything, in general, that would actually benefit us as students, is actually being used for his own benefit,” said sophomore Dustin Roberts.
The funding, $650,000, is coming from capital outlay money from the state at the request of Sen. Stuart Ingle. According to one regent, while it’s been a contentious issue with the governor’s office even receiving calls about it, he also says most people are either misinformed or don’t understand the issue.
KRQE News 13 is told the main concern with the current president’s house, which was built in the 1960s, is that it has asbestos and mold, and that remodeling the house could cost more than building a new one.
“It’s money well spent. The state is going to have a pretty good chunk of money next year too,” said Ingle. “Over the years, we have got to have to keep things looking good for the people in the state of New Mexico.”
“This is more than a private residence for the president, it’s an asset for not only the university but to the community of Portales. This residence is utilized for public meetings, entertainment, special events,” said ENMU Regent Lance Pyle.
Seven presidents have lived in the house, including the current one, Dr. Jeff Elwell. Regents also stress tuition or students’ fee money will not be used on the project.
Details about the future house itself are limited, KRQE News 13 is told they’ve looked at plans for 2,500 or 3,500 square feet.
KRQE News 13 reached out to the president himself, but we were referred to the Board of Regents. They said if anyone has any concerns or suggestions, to contact them.