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Frank bids adieu in letter to university

UNM President Bob Frank issued a farewell letter in his last universitywide statement Monday afternoon, recapping both the ups and downs during his leadership at the school in the past 4½ years.

Bob Frank

Bob Frank

Frank said successes included an increase in both four- and six-year graduation rates and an improved freshman retention rate, and raising a total of $346.9 million since 2012 for the university, including $100 million in gift requests that he was part of.

He said his greatest challenge was the U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the school’s handling of sexual misconduct.

Frank is leaving the presidency at the end of the year, a move that comes five months early and in connection to recent tensions with the board of regents. Provost Chaouki Abdallah will serve as acting president in his place.

“I have been fortunate to be a part of a collaborative journey that has brought about tremendous progress at UNM,” Frank said in his letter to the roughly 27,000 students on main campus and others.

A presidential search is ongoing, and the regents hope to conclude it by spring.

Frank’s departure from the position as president was part of an agreement with the regents that headed off a potential legal battle over leaked reports critical of his management style.

Frank said in a brief statement last week that he chose to settle with the board because of the potential toll of litigation and his fondness for UNM. As part of the agreement, he agreed to leave the president’s office Dec. 31 and to take a paid professional leave at his normal salary of $362,136 through May 31.

After his sabbatical, Frank has the option to take a $190,000 tenured faculty position at the Health Sciences Center.

The Monday email from Frank provides a deeper look at “collective accomplishments” since 2012, the year Frank started.

He referenced increased graduation rates and the creation of new programs such as the Honors College and the College of Population Health.

On the DOJ’s investigation into how the school handles sexual misconduct, he said UNM has taken important steps to improve the campus environment, such as increased mandatory training on the prevention of sexual misconduct.

He wrapped up his message by saying he came back to UNM to repay the school for the “educational gifts” it gave him – he earned three degrees at UNM. He also wished the university well.

“I sincerely hope that each of you will continue to define UNM, bringing your own unique talents, perspectives and passions to expand upon the momentum to make this University even greater.”


Farewell from UNM President Robert G. Frank – 12.19.2016

Dear Fellow Lobos,

As my tenure at The University of New Mexico draws to a close, this marks my 201st (and final) weekly communication to the campus community in my role as your president.

I have been fortunate to be a part of a collaborative journey that has brought about tremendous progress at UNM. Together, we achieved much, which now provides a solid foundation for the many accomplishments yet to come.

Building the Lobo Legacy, Together

I was honored to be selected as president of my alma mater five years ago, and immediately began the process of charting a strategic vision that would propel UNM forward. This vision, UNM2020, is a living blueprint, drawn by the perspectives and passions of our campus community, that became the framework for the many achievements that followed.

No individual, even a university president, can single-handedly change an institution as complex as a major research university. And as we all know, change requires many inputs in higher education. Using our checks and balances to gain support, we have been able to accomplish much since I began my presidency in June of 2012. As I have stated before, our successes have been a result of debate, deliberation, inclusivity and testing some uncharted waters. We have taken risks, both large and small, and have repeatedly demonstrated an ability to evolve and grow as circumstances change.

Together, we have brought in the strongest academic classes on record, begun innovative academic programs, enhanced the Lobo experience for our outstanding students and successfully met many of our goals.

Let us look back on some of our collective accomplishments since 2012:

Academic Advancement ­– Success can be defined in many ways. We are preparing our students to be educated citizens and leaders.


  • Reached record-high graduation rates (up 4.1 percent for 6-year completion, and up 3.9 percent for 4-year completion)
  • Reached record-high retention rates (80 percent retention of freshman, up 5.4 percent)
  • Enrolled our most well-prepared freshman classes ever, reflected by a 12 percent increase in enrolled students with a 26 ACT or higher
  • Increased doctoral degrees awarded annually by 10 percent
  • Continued national acclaim for our faculty, including induction of several faculty members into national academies and science foundations
  • Increased incoming international students by 30 percent, thanks largely to the Global Education Office, established in 2013, and University offices established in China and Mexico
  • Established College of Population Health, the first in the nation to offer a bachelor’s degree, to address critical health needs in New Mexico
  • Established a thriving Honors College, which challenges the best and brightest students to bring an interdisciplinary perspective to their engagement with the community
  • Opened the Innovation Academy, the academic component of Innovate ABQ, with 232 innovation scholars, more than 2,200 students enrolled in innovation classes, and more than 150 faculty involved
  • Designed spaces and buildings for optimal learning experiences, such as the MaLL (Math Learning Lab), and the Collaborative Teaching and Learning Building

Institutional Well-being – The financial success and overall reputation of the University is critical to its institutional mission. 

  • Raised a total of $346.9 million since 2012, including $100 million in gift requests that I have been a part of
  • Extended Changing Worlds 2020, The Campaign for UNM, the largest comprehensive fundraising campaign in UNM history ($1 billion by 2020), with more than 83.6 percent raised to date
  • Increased endowment by 25 percent ($80.3 million) between June 1, 2012 and Nov. 30, 2016
  • Installed 12 “Spirit of the Lobo” statues on campus, each sponsored by donors wishing to publicly display Lobo pride, and that they are “Lobos for Life”
  • Launched the most comprehensive branding initiative UNM has ever undertaken, increasing public awareness and positive perception of the University
  • Partnered with local government and business community to facilitate innovative and productive partnerships and leverage university and public expertise to work toward the betterment of the community
  • Received more than $300 million in research and grant funding, thanks in large part to the hard work of our faculty
  • Received $88,000,000 in Clinical Translational Science Center funding, more than double since 2012
  • UNM issued a record high 69 U.S. patents in Fiscal Year 2016
  • Initiated one of the most significant building and remodeling periods since the 1970s with $215,000,000 in capital projects underway

Athletic Achievement – As a former Lobo student-athlete, I care deeply about the UNM athletics program.Here are just a few related accomplishments seen over the past four years.

  • 27 conference championships
  • 9th consecutive Women’s Cross Country Mountain West title in 2016
  • 2015 Women’s Cross Country NCAA Title, UNM’s second NCAA Title
  • Reached a record-high average UNM student athlete GPA of 3.31
  • 5 Individual NCAA Champions, and 33 Athletes of the Year
  • 21 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, student athletes recognized for academic excellence
  • Played in two football bowl games, including a recent win in the 2016 Gildan New Mexico Bowl

Despite the precarious landscape in higher education, I feel that UNM is stronger today than it has ever been. Of course, no university presidency is without challenges. Under my tenure, the one that stands out the most is being faced with a federal inquiry by the Department of Justice regarding how UNM handles sexual misconduct and how we ensure a safe and welcoming campus.

We have taken critical steps over the past few years to improve the campus environment. LoboRESPECT was initiated to take a proactive approach to addressing issues of sexual misconduct and to provide a comprehensive process to preventing and responding to sexual violence in our campus community. Our students joined in the effort by establishing the Protect the Packcampaign. We have also refined and streamlined our related policies and have implemented mandatory trainings to improve on the educational component of prevention.

It is evident that we’ve accomplished much of which we can be proud. But the Lobo legacy lives within our students. Through the remarkable young men and women that choose UNM, I see the change-makers and leaders of tomorrow. I have often spoken of my awe for the dedication and achievements of our faculty and staff. Their relentless efforts drive our students to ever greater success.

Farewell, My Fellow Lobos

It has been my distinct honor and privilege to serve this great University as its 21st president; I came to UNM to repay the educational gifts I received many years ago. I close with an expression of deep and sincere appreciation to all those who have contributed to the University’s success over the course of my presidency. I sincerely hope that each of you will continue to define UNM, bringing your own unique talents, perspectives and passions to expand upon the momentum to make this University even greater. I want to thank my wife Janet for her countless hours spent in the UNM community spreading Lobo pride and spirit.

Janet and I wish all of you and your families a very happy holiday season and a safe and successful New Year.

As always, Go Lobos!