University of New Mexico Regent Alex Romero announced his resignation on Wednesday — just one day after he and other regents aired concerns about communication problems and power imbalances on the seven-member board.
At Tuesday’s Board of Regents meeting, Romero stressed his desire for more conversation among members but also indicated he thought the situation could improve.
Wednesday morning, however, he tendered his resignation to Gov. Susana Martinez.
“I try to take the high road, always hoping that the message is received as intended,” Romero said in a written statement to the Journal, explaining the overnight change.”Obviously it doesn’t always work.”
Martinez last May named Romero a “recess” appointee to the board. He never went through the New Mexico Senate confirmation process. Romero was one of three UNM regents serving without confirmation, as the Senate Rules Committee did not hold hearings for any of the governor’s UNM appointees during the 2017 Legislature and has not yet during this year’s session, which ends Wednesday.
A Martinez spokesman did not respond to a Journal email about how the governor would replace Romero.
In his written comments, Romero said he was grateful to serve as a regent and noted “the privilege of working with some remarkable people at UNM at all levels,” including faculty, staff, students and leadership. But he cited problems working with the regents’ leadership. He specifically noted resistance to his repeated suggestion to gather the regents to plan and discuss priorities, issues and how to support incoming UNM President Garnett Stokes, who starts March 1.
“That effort was met with tremendous resistance,” he wrote. “I’ve done my best, and it’s time to move on.”
Regent President Rob Doughty said in a written statement that Romero had been requesting the board hold a “closed-door retreat,” but UNM attorneys had warned that discussing university business, planning and goals in that way would violate the state’s Open Meetings Act. He said he respected Romero’s intentions and considered him a valuable addition to the board given his background in the private and not-for-profit sectors. Romero last year retired as the president and CEO of the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce.
“I appreciated the enthusiasm with which he approached his role and his many creative ideas,” Doughty said.