UNM Faculty Senate Wants Change in Way Regents Are Selected

The UNM Faculty Senate wants to depoliticize the way regents are selected at the state’s three major universities.

Under a proposal passed unanimously by the senate Tuesday, an eight- to 10-member committee would recommend three names to the governor whenever a regent’s position opens at the University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University or New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.

Under the current system, which is spelled out in the New Mexico Constitution, the governor selects and appoints regents.

The other two schools’ faculty senates are expected to vote on the proposal in the coming weeks.

“This is the 21st century, and economic and cultural development are vital at the state’s research universities,” UNM Faculty Senate President Richard Wood said in an interview. “We feel like input from the widest, most diverse group possible is just a matter of good governance.”

UNM Regents President Raymond Sanchez said he learned of the senate’s proposal Monday.

“The Faculty Senate has the absolute right to recommend any process they feel will assist,” Sanchez said. “However, the (state) constitution presently sets out the process and has worked without any concerns that I am aware of for many years.”

He said the senate’s proposal would require a constitutional amendment.

Wood disagrees.

“The input from the committee would be advisory,” he said. “The governor would still make the appointment. We decided we didn’t want to get in the business of changing the constitution.”

Under to the proposal, the committee would be appointed by the governor or a designee, and be composed of faculty and community members.

“Committee members will be sought who are familiar with higher education generally and research universities particularly,” the proposal states. “The overall committee should include equal numbers of faculty and community members, and should include members from diverse ethnic/racial backgrounds, from urban & rural areas, and from a variety of political viewpoints.”

Once the committee is appointed, under the proposal, its members would meet with the university’s regents president and administration to discuss which of the school’s needs should be filled by the next regent.

“Once this has occurred, (the committee) maintains no further contact with university administration, in order to prevent appearance of impropriety,” the proposal states.

The committee would then publicize the opening statewide, and after receiving applications, submit three names to the governor, the proposal states.