The makeup of the University of New Mexico’s governing body has undergone a dramatic shift as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Saturday announced the appointment of five members to the institution’s seven-member board of regents, including two who previously served on the board.
“I am proud to nominate this incredible group that I am confident will be dedicated to ensuring equity, responsibility, and accountability at the University of New Mexico,” Lujan Grisham said in statement issued by the Governor’s Office. “I eagerly look forward to their stewardship of New Mexico’s flagship university.”
The nominees are subject to confirmation by the state Senate.
The appointments are: Kimberly Sanchez Rael and Robert Schwartz to six-year terms; Sandra Begay and Douglas Brown to four-year terms; and UNM student Melissa Henry to a two-year term.
Lujan Grisham’s appointment process was described as “the first of its kind,” with advisory groups submitting an applicant pool after interviewing and evaluating candidates based on criteria that addressed what each institution of higher education needs.
In a rare case, the five seats on the UNM Board of Regents opened simultaneously because the members’ terms were ending, or were completed, and the Senate had failed to hold any confirmation hearings on then-Gov. Susana Martinez’s UNM appointments over the past two years.
Regents Robert M. Doughty, current president of the board, and Marron Lee, who serves as chair of the Health Sciences Center and Finance and Facilities committees and the Lobo Development Corp., are the only holdovers, with their terms set to expire in 2020.
The list of incoming regents come from a wide array of backgrounds and bring their own unique qualifications to the board.
According to the news release issued by the Governor’s Office:
• Kimberly Sanchez Rael has an “extensive” background in business, is currently acting president and CEO of SRE Wellness Inc., and served on the New Mexico Board of Finance for several years.
• A UNM alum and past regent, Sandra K. Begay has “dedicated” her career to engineering and energy development, working with Sandia National Laboratories’ Indian energy program and nonprofit initiatives in the field of science.
• Robert Schwartz has more than 40 years of experience teaching law at colleges across the globe, including UNM School of Law, where he is the Henry Weihofen Professor of Law Emeritus.
• Another previous regent, Douglas M. Brown is touted as a “financial leader” with more than a half-century of experience under his belt, who also served as dean of UNM Anderson School of Management for several years.
• Student regent Melissa C. Henry is a licensed mental health counselor with at least five years working in student health and autism centers. She has also worked as a couples and family counselor who has focused on reuniting parents with their children.