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Martinez nominates two UNM regents

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The University of New Mexico will have two new regents – former Republican state lawmakers John Ryan of Albuquerque and Don Tripp of Socorro – pending state Senate confirmation.

Former State Sen. John Ryan

Former State Sen. John Ryan

Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, announced their appointments in a news release Tuesday afternoon.

They will replace Regents Jack Fortner and Brad Hosmer.

Chris Sanchez, the governor’s spokesman, said leaders of the state’s higher education institutions need to understand the “importance of fiscal responsibility and data-driven education reforms.”

“(Former) Speaker Tripp and (former state) Sen. Ryan have dedicated their lives to public service – their wealth of experience and selfless dedication to our state will serve our students well,” Sanchez said.

Former State House Speaker Don Tripp

Former State House Speaker Don Tripp

The student regent position remains open on the seven-person board. Regents are appointed by the governor and must be confirmed by the state Senate. They also will select the new UNM president, a process that is currently ongoing.

Regents President Rob Doughty praised the appointments.

“I am looking forward to working with our new regent nominees, both of whom are respected statesmen with reputations for strong leadership,” Doughty said.

The appointment of two Republicans to the board makes for a total of four. The other two are Doughty and Regent Marron Lee. Regents Suzanne Quillen and Tom Clifford are Democrats. A state law says no more than four regents can be from the same political party.

Acting President Chaouki Abdallah said he looks forward to working with the regents on the university’s budget challenges and the solvency of the lottery scholarship fund.

“Their experience in public service and knowledge of our state will be a great asset to UNM,” Abdallah said.

Tripp, 70, recently served as the speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives and recently resigned from that position. Tripp earned a degree from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.

Ryan, 54, served three terms in the state Senate. He has previously served as the executive director of the Republican Party of New Mexico.

They both said they would like to see a focus on student graduation rates as well as making it easier to transfer course credits between schools in the state. And both expressed enthusiasm about being nominated for the post.

Regarding the recent controversy over UNM President Bob Frank’s departure and tensions with the board, Tripp said he didn’t know the details and that it was time to move forward. Ryan said he didn’t know about the situation beyond what he read in the paper.

Fortner didn’t have a comment Tuesday afternoon. Hosmer said he didn’t apply to serve another term.

Clifford was appointed to the board by recess appointment and still needs to be confirmed by the Senate.