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UPDATED: Confirmation of UNM Regents Unlikely This Session

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Shortly after the Senate Rules Committee announced that confirmation hearings for appointees to the UNM Board of Regents would be unlikely before the end of the session, Gov. Bill Richardson’s office fired back.
The head of the Senate Rules Committee said Tuesday it’s unlikely that confirmation hearings for appointments to the University of New Mexico Board of Regents will be held before the end of the Legislative session.
“Unfortunately, the clock may run out before the committee can hold the UNM regents’ confirmation hearings,” Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, said in a news release. “In the long run this may prove to be for the best as the Legislature continues to monitor the regents’ responses to extraordinary challenges unfolding on the campus.”
Lopez said she hopes confirmation hearings on the UNM regents can occur during a special session Gov. Bill Richardson is expected to call later this year.
Three UNM regents are awaiting Senate confirmation. Richardson has re-appointed Jamie Koch to another six-year term on the board and appointed Santa Fe attorney J.E. “Gene” Gallegos to the seat currently held by Mel Eaves. The governor chose junior Emily “Cate” Wisdom as UNM’s next student regent.
Lopez has previously told the Journal that appointees to the UNM board would face tough questions during confirmation hearings, in part because of no-confidence votes approved last month by UNM faculty against the university’s president, chief financial officer and Koch, who is president of the regents.
UNM faculty have asked Richardson to withdraw his nomination of Koch to a second term, and they are pledging to fight Koch’s confirmation. The graduate student government has also approved a no-confidence vote on Koch, who has agreed to step down as president of the board but plans to remain a UNM regent.
According to the news release from Lopez, the last confirmation hearings for the current legislative session, which ends Saturday, are scheduled for today. The committee will consider appointments to boards of regents at New Mexico State, New Mexico Highlands and New Mexico Military Institute. The Senate has already confirmed regents for Eastern and Western New Mexico universities and for Northern New Mexico College, the news release states.
Lopez blamed the confirmation delays on difficulties her committee has had in getting background information on nominees. She said the governor directed that the Department of Public Safety withhold background information on key nominees, and the Rules Committee had to work out an alternative process with the Attorney General’s Office.
“This took much longer than we would have liked, but was also necessary so we could fulfill our constitutional duties to provide informed advice and consent for the nominees,” she said.
The governor’s office has previously said that the committee’s request is unreasonable and represents an undue intrusion into the executive’s responsibility to nominate qualified candidates for the positions.

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