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UNM Regents To Consider a Reorganization

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Health sciences change would improve efficiency, officials say

University of New Mexico’s regents will consider Tuesday a broad reorganization of its health sciences operations, a move that health sciences officials say will improve efficiency.

Regents have been asked to rewrite their policies to allow the Health Sciences Center, which includes medical and pharmacy schools as well as the UNM health care centers, to create a new board of directors that oversees both hospital operations and academic affairs.

The reorganization also would give health sciences executive vice president Paul Roth the title of chancellor of health sciences. The change, Roth said, is intended to better reflect his management of academic affairs for health care professional programs and oversight of the hospital.

While the reorganization wouldn’t cost UNM anything, it could save time, Roth said. The new board of directors is intended to lighten the workload for the regents and HSC staff who serve on separate committees that each review the same information before it goes to the Board of Regents for adoption, Roth has said.

The plan has drawn criticism on the main campus, where faculty and administrators have expressed concern that the reorganization is the first step in splitting the university into separate entities, making collaboration more difficult. Critics also question the need to change administrative titles.

“Our whole goal is to make things better, more effective and less difficult. Until it’s in place though, none of us knows what it’s really going to look like,” HSC deputy executive vice president John Trotter told regents and faculty members during a committee meeting earlier this month.

Currently, the hospital has an independent board of trustees. Hospital funding concerns and other health sciences issues are routed through multiple regent committees for review.

If reorganization is approved, it would create a single HSC board of directors that oversees the hospital board and all health sciences academic affairs. Three regents and four regent-appointed community members would comprise the board.

The reorganization would give regents improved oversight of hospital operations while retaining management of HSC academics, Regent Jack Fortner said.

“This is not a done deal,” Fortner said. “There’s still issues that have to be addressed. I don’t think all the questions were answered.”

Others have expressed specific doubt about Roth’s title change, fearing it gives the wrong impression that health sciences plays an elevated role.

“It’s causing a lot of anxiety, and (the sense) that all of sudden, there’s a totally separate system,” Provost Suzanne Ortega said. “The name itself sometimes really does matter.”

The proposed changes, which have been under review for 18 months, are designed to prevent any split between health sciences and main campus affairs at UNM, Roth said Monday in a prepared statement.

“We specifically wanted to be sure that there will be no changes impacting the HSC’s relationship with main campus in its educational and research programs or in the governance of the faculty, staff and student body,” Roth said.