4 Investigates finds UNM out millions of dollars in items | KOB 4
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4 Investigates finds UNM out millions of dollars in items

Chris Ramirez
July 02, 2018 01:37 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - In a two-year time span, the University of New Mexico lost, surplused, cannibalized or was a victim of theft to the tune of about $3 million dollars’ worth of university-owned items. 

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The findings come after UNM released a list of its inventory, that met that criteria, to KOB 4 Investigates.  

The list contains about 545 laptops, tablets, and computers.  The list also includes medical equipment, vehicles, golf carts, microscopes, cameras, office furniture, and science laboratory items.

Madeline Brown, a UNM Student, stated, “I just came back from my biology class and they are always talking about how they don't have enough things and we're on a budget.” 

KOB requested an interview with a university administrator or a manager who handles campus inventory, but the university assigned spokesman Dan Jiron to field questions.  Jiron stated that this time of year is particularly busy for the people KOB requested to speak with because the university’s fiscal year ends at the end of June.   

“What kind of training do university employees go through to take care of university property?” KOB Investigative Reporter Chris Ramirez asked.

“It is up to the departments to ensure they are in accordance with the guidelines put forth by the purchasing department.  So there is not necessarily any formal training,” Jiron said.  

But perhaps formal training may help.  Take what happened to a $34,000 cabinet that stores gas tanks in the chemistry department.  It went missing and emails, provided by UNM, show confusion; not only about where it was but about who owned it.

“That's going to happen,” Jiron explained.  “In a university this large with all the different departments— on occasion, you are going to see equipment isn't good anymore and [employees] may not be familiar with the process to dispose of that.”

And a research instrument in the Biomedical Engineer Department was listed as missing.  University records a fluorimeter valued at nearly $130,000, purchased with grant money, was gone.  Records show a researcher took the instrument to Duke University when he left UNM, and his department chairman approved it.  We asked how such a high-ticket item could leave UNM.

“Well, in this case, this person still had a relationship with the university.  And so, a lot of the research he was conducting was still benefitting UNM,” Jiron said.

Students who pay tuition and New Mexicans who pay taxes deserve tighter controls over the assets they paid for.

“What can UNM do better track the things that it owns?” Ramirez asked.

“I think over the years, the process has improved greatly,” Jiron said. “A better education to the staff and faculty is something we can all always do better.  We are entrusted with these items and we want to make sure we are caring for them as best we can.”

Editor’s Note: In a prior version of this script, KOB stated that $7 million worth of UNM items were stolen, missing, cannibalized or surplused.    

Credits

Chris Ramirez

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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