In the wake of a report critical of President Bob Frank’s management style, the University of New Mexico Board of Regents on Sunday called a special meeting to discuss possibly suspending or firing Frank.
The meeting set for Wednesday is the latest development between Frank and the regents, who last week met in closed session for two hours to discuss a report about Frank.
The Journal obtained that report, which found some staff members said Frank at times displayed a temper and could be condescending and sarcastic. It described his behavior at times as “bullying.”
Other people interviewed for the report said Frank cared about his staff, was “generally affable” and the bulk of their interactions “are pleasant.” Report author, attorney Alice Kilborn, wrote that she saw evidence of “shades of a hostile working environment.”
Frank, who has been in charge of the school since June 2012, said Wednesday night that work in the president’s office at times has been “intense and stressful,” but it would be “inaccurate to describe it as a hostile work environment” and he said he had not seen the report.
And he had still not seen the report on Sunday, his attorney Jaymeson Pegue said.
“Therefore, he has no information as to the basis for the extraordinary actions set forth in the notice and the agenda for the meeting on Wednesday of this week,” Pegue said.
Regents President Rob Doughty said Sunday he could not comment.
“While I can’t comment directly on the matter, I am confident that the actions taken by the Board of Regents are consistent with their policies and in the best interest of moving UNM in a positive direction,” he said.
The Sunday meeting announcement shows that regents on Wednesday will discuss “limited personnel matters” involving Frank including an option to place Frank on “administrative leave with pay,” pending an internal investigation, and an option to provide Frank with “notice of proposed termination for just cause.”
If termination is pursued, Frank would receive a statement explaining the grounds for his termination and be given a chance to respond in writing to the notice within 30 days, according to his contract. Following his response or failure to do so, the board would vote. To terminate Frank, a majority of the seven regents must vote to do so.
Grounds for a just-cause firing include “dishonesty, willful misconduct, insubordination,” and “conduct that involves moral turpitude or that would tend to bring public disrespect or contempt or ridicule upon the university.” It also includes any “deliberate or serious” violation of university policy or law.
If Frank is let go under just cause, the university is not required to pay Frank anything other than salary and benefits he earned through the time of his termination.
Frank, whose salary is $362,136, announced in September that he would not seek to renew his contract as the university’s president, though he didn’t give a reason for his decision. His contract ends May 31. As part of his resignation agreement, regents offered him a tenured faculty position at the school’s Health Sciences Center with a $350,000 salary. It is not clear how any action from Wednesday’s special meeting could affect the offer.