University of New Mexico President Bob Frank won’t finish out his term as head of the state’s largest university, but he will keep getting paid. That’s part of the deal the UNM Board of Regents made with Frank after a meeting Tuesday morning. The meeting marked the second time in a week that the board met to discuss Frank’s future in light of a report that criticized his management style, which was described by some as “bullying.”
After more than three hours behind closed doors last week, the regents took no action. But they came back Tuesday morning and announced the deal, which included paid administrative leave starting at the beginning of 2017 and lasting until his term was scheduled to end on May 31. Frank had previously announced he would not seek a second term as president.
The University of New Mexico Board of Regents took no action on University President Bob Frank after three and a half hours of discussions behind closed doors and three days of intense media speculation. No regents remained after the meeting to discuss the lack of action taken on Tuesday. The lack of decision came in the wake of an internal report, first reported by the Albuquerque Journal, that partly criticized the management style of Frank and described it as “bullying.”
After the report leaked to the media, regents set an emergency meeting for Wednesday. Another regular Board of Regents meeting is set for next Tuesday, though it isn’t clear if regents will discuss Frank. The board must provide an agenda for the meeting 72 hours before it starts, according to the state Open Meetings Act.
A new proposal from House Republican leaders to fix the state budget deficit would cut the same amount of money—$89.6 million—as the Senate Democratic leaders’ plan. But House Speaker Don Tripp, R-Socorro, Majority Leader Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, and state Rep. Jason Harper, R-Rio Rancho, emphasized different priorities in the House Republicans’ plan, which they presented to reporters Monday morning in a press conference. Namely, Republicans said their plan swaps cuts proposed in the Senate bill to K-12 education, the state Children, Youth and Families Department, the Department of Public Safety and services for sexual assault victims in the state Department of Health budget for deeper cuts in higher education. House Republicans also emphasized that their proposal raises no taxes. “The last part is very important because New Mexicans cannot afford to pay more taxes,” Tripp told reporters while announcing the proposal.
The president of the University of New Mexico won’t be back after the current school year ends in May of 2017. UNM announced that Robert Frank won’t seek a second term as president of the university in a press release sent Friday afternoon, announcing his final day would be May 31, 2017, when his current contract ends. “For personal and institutional reasons, I decided that it was best to let the Regents know of my intentions. By announcing my decision now, we can gear up to move vigorously ahead to finish what we’ve started,” Frank said in a statement. “It will allow for a thoughtful, well-planned transition that will keep UNM making steady progress.
Gov. Susana Martinez named a former cabinet member to the University of New Mexico Board of Regents, a panel that has come under scrutiny in recent months after other Martinez appointees spearheaded the takeover the UNM Health Sciences Center. Tom Clifford recently retired as cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration. Clifford worked for 20 years in state government, through multiple gubernatorial administrations. Martinez did not issue a statement on the appointment as she typically does for high-profile appointments. Her office did provide background for Clifford, mentioning his time as the policy and research director for the state’s Taxation and Revenue Department and his ten years working for the federal government.
University of New Mexico President Bob Frank has halted plans to change the email addresses of all Health Sciences Center employees, students and faculty. The controversial plan, which was to have dropped the word “salud” from their “@salud.unm.edu” address, simplifying it to “@unm.edu,” proved unpopular among faculty and others. The delay comes after outcry that included a survey found 319 of 325 faculty members were opposed to the idea. The email change would have affected more than 15,000 people. “After carefully considering these concerns, it has become apparent to me that an effort meant to unify our campus has instead had the opposite effect, growing into something that risks moving us further apart,” Frank wrote in an email to university students, faculty and employees, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
A sudden overhaul in governance of the state’s largest public medical institution has left several people questioning the motivations behind the changes and its aftermath. One such skeptic is Mel Eaves, a now-former community member of the board of directors that made recommendations on the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center. HSC operates the university’s medical school, nursing school, two hospitals and the cancer center. This piece also appears in the March 23 edition of the ABQ Free Press. To Eaves, the motivation for the overhaul stems from other entities wanting a piece of HSC’s $220 million sitting in reserves, earmarked in part for the construction of a new hospital to replace the campus’s current adult hospital, which was built in the 1950s.
According to KOB-TV, a state Senator texted a University of New Mexico Board of Regents appointee that he would vote for his confirmation if the appointee pledged to fire the university’s president and Vice President of Finance. KOB-TV obtained the text messages and spoke to the appointee, Rob Doughty, and the senator, George Muñoz, D-Gallup. The full video report is available at the bottom of the post. Doughty told KOB he thought to himself that he was “being bullied by a particular Senator.” Muñoz, according to KOB, initially denied that he sent the text messages until he was shown them.”No,” Munoz replied.