ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The University of New Mexico’s governing board will meet less frequently in the future.
UNM regents voted this week on a meeting schedule for the rest of the year that calls on the board to convene every other month in most cases, which is about half as many meetings as the board has historically had in a year. Last month, the regents changed board policy to cut the expected amount of formal gatherings.
“A big motivation was to save time, effort and elbow grease on the part of the staff. Look at all that goes into these meetings with books, PowerPoints and scheduling, and on and on and on,” Board of Regents President Doug Brown said. “More time to actually do these things instead of just to review and discuss them – that was the primary motivation.”
Brown said board members met with a governing board consultant during a regents retreat, who said that fewer regents meetings reflect best practices because regents appear less intrusive and meddlesome in day-to-day operations at a university.
UNM’s Board of Regents has been criticized for meddling too much in routine matters.
The Higher Learning Commission, the agency tasked with accrediting UNM, said in its most recent report that regents in the past decade have been too intrusive with day-to-day matters. It recommends that UNM receive additional monitoring from the commission to ensure the board sets “appropriate boundaries” with the university.
At least two former regents and the university’s Faculty Senate have also criticized the UNM Board of Regents in recent years, though the makeup of the board has changed since five new members have been appointed.
“The Regents believe that less frequent, more substantive meetings will allow the Board to more effectively discharge their governance responsibilities while at the same time allowing the President and her leadership team more time to actualize the vision, mission and goals of the University,” says the resolution reducing regent meetings, which was unanimously approved by the seven regents.
Regents will also hold fewer committee meetings.
Julia Scherba de Valenzuela, a special education professor at UNM, spoke against the reduction in meetings, arguing that it gives employees and community members fewer chances to question university leaders.
“I’m actually very disappointed in this decision,” she said. “I cannot support a decrease in opportunities for faculty, staff and other community members to comment on pending decisions and raise issues of concern.”
Brown said regents will still be accessible, even though there will be fewer public meetings.
The approved schedule calls for the board to meet in October, December, February, March, May and once in the summer. University Counsel Loretta Martinez said UNM will evaluate the schedule over the next year or so to make sure problems don’t arise.