Regent: UNM likely will expand Innovate ABQ board

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It was just last week that the University of New Mexico regents approved six of seven members of the new Innovate ABQ board of directors, but already it appears likely that the panel — which has yet to meet — will be expanded, probably to nine members.

The reason can be summed up in a single word: diversity — or, more precisely, the lack thereof.

The six board members approved last week are all Anglo men above the age of 40, although a woman — Pat Vincent-Collawn, CEO of PNM Resources — is under consideration and is the likely choice to fill the seventh spot.

Jack Fortner, president of the UNM Board of Regents, said Wednesday he and his colleagues will more than likely consider expanding the Innovate ABQ board from seven to nine members at the regents’ Nov. 14 meeting.

Diversity, Fortner said, includes race, sex, ethnicity, age, experience — a reference to criticisms that the board approved last week contains not a single entrepreneur, even though Innovate ABQ is primarily meant to serve as a springboard for entrepreneurial ideas.

The idea behind Innovate ABQ surfaced two years ago with a commitment by UNM’s then-new president, Bob Frank, to involve the university more directly in the economic development of the community.

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Regents said Vincent-Collawn wasn’t immediately named to the board because her name surfaced late in the process. Fortner said she is “exactly the kind of person we want.” He said he hopes any new names submitted will include other women, young people, ethnic minorities and entrepreneurs.

Regent Jamie Koch said he agreed with Fortner 100 percent, that the board should include Hispanics, women, and some business people. He added that it was Fortner who recommended the current board members.

After last week’s vote, critics said the board members have a wealth of experience in administration, banking and politics, but no entrepreneurs. Bernalillo County also registered its complaints at being left off the panel, even though it has promised to lend the Innovate ABQ project $1 million in startup funds for a business incubator.

The board members OK’d last week are Mayor Richard Berry; Sherman McCorkle, a former banker and longtime head of Technology Ventures Corp.; Terry Laudick, president and CEO of the New Mexico Educators Federal Credit Union; Charles Wellborn, retired former president of STC.UNM; and two UNM administrators, Dr. Richard Larson of the Health Sciences Center and Executive Vice President for Administration David Harris.

 

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