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UNM regent appointees one step closer to legislative approval

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Two members appointed to the University of New Mexico Board of Regents are one step closer to officially joining the governing body of the state’s flagship university.

The Senate Rules Committee, chaired by Sen. Linda M. Lopez, D-Albuquerque, voted to recommended Ryan Berryman and Marron Lee serve as UNM regents Monday morning. Gov. Susana Martinez appoints the regents who then must be confirmed by the state Senate.

The Rules Committee voted unanimously to approve Berryman, a student regent, while Sen. Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, and Lopez voted against Lee. The remaining members of the 11 person committee voted to approve Lee, a former assistant U.S. attorney and legislative assistant to Sen. Pete V. Domenici.

Berryman and Lee have been working as regents under a recess appointment, which grants them the full abilities of regents, pending Senate confirmation.

Gov. Susana Martinez appointed Lee in April 2015 and Berryman in June 2015. A regent’s term lasts six years, while a student regent’s term lasts two.

Martinez’s nomination of regents has been struck down before. In the 2015 legislative session, the Senate voted against approving Matt Chandler, a former prosecutor. Martinez’s administration called the move at the time “despicable politics at its worst,” while opponents of Chandler questioned his ties to a Republican-leaning political action committee.

The Senate’s vote prompted former regent Jamie Koch to leave his position in protest. Martinez asked him to stay, which he did until announcing his retirement in December 2015.

The full Senate is expected to review the appointments Monday afternoon. Berryman and Lee would be the newest members of the board of regents. Martinez has yet to appoint a regent to fill the space left by Koch on the seven person board.