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AG, UNM president tout ‘productive’ meeting

Attorney General Hector Balderas

UNM President Garnett Stokes

UNM President Garnett Stokes

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A week after blasting the University of New Mexico as uncooperative and secretive, New Mexico’s attorney general says he has more hope for the future after sitting down with the school’s new president.

Hector Balderas – whose office began a wide-ranging investigation of UNM a year ago – announced Thursday that he and UNM President Garnett Stokes had a productive meeting this week and have a “shared commitment” to improve how the two entities work together. His office also released a May 9 letter he wrote to Stokes, expressing optimism that UNM will address many of his concerns, including where it refers to allegations of employee wrongdoing.

The letter also referenced the possibility of adding an “independent inspector general” at UNM. Balderas’ spokesman said that position would serve as a “central intake for allegations regarding the university.”

A UNM spokeswoman characterized that as one idea broached at the meeting, but said there are no specific plans yet to introduce the position.

“I am optimistic that UNM, under President Stokes’ leadership, will be held accountable for improving cooperation and creating greater efficiencies in the interest of serving justice and being open and transparent,” Balderas said in a written statement.

Balderas in an April 30 letter to Stokes and UNM regents had complained about an institutional lack of transparency at the school and the resistance his office had met while trying to obtain documents as part of its ongoing investigation. The probe covers a number of issues, including financial practices, and how the school handles discrimination and sexual assault cases.

Stokes – who took over as president on March 1 – also voiced hope for better collaboration.

“I found our meeting to be productive and I am encouraged by what will, no doubt, be the first of many conversations. It is not only our responsibility to be responsive and timely to requests, but to also seek clarification early on,” she said in a written statement.

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