N.M. Tech Faculty Senate Favors Changing Way Regents Selected

Faculty senates at two of New Mexico’s three major universities have endorsed a proposal that would change the way regents are selected.

The Senate at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology voted Wednesday to approve the proposal, which would establish an eight- to 10-member committee in charge of recommending three names to the governor whenever a regent’s position opens at that school, the University of New Mexico or New Mexico State University.

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

The UNM Faculty Senate approved the proposal last month, and the NMSU Senate is expected to vote on it in the coming weeks.

Under the proposal, the committee would be appointed by the governor or a designee, and would comprise 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 and rural areas, and from a variety of political viewpoints.”

Once the committee is appointed, members would meet with the regents’ president and university administration to discuss what kinds of skills the next regent should have.

“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 go through candidate applications before submitting its top three choices.

William Stone, Tech’s Faculty Senate chairman, wrote in an e-mailed response to Journal questions that “we don’t feel that we have any problems with our board.”

“We have a fine bunch of regents who seem to be interested in listening,” Stone wrote. “We did feel that having some input into appropriate board members was not unreasonable, and that if that was going to be the process at the other research institutions, it should also be the process here.”

Gov. Bill Richardson has endorsed the proposal and plans to issue an executive order adopting it, pending the NMSU vote. UNM faculty members have said they hope both candidates for governor — Democrat Diane Denish and Republican Susana Martinez — will endorse it.