Monday, March 13, 2006


This Board of Regents meeting was largely pro forma, as reported in the press, with all members in attendance but one vacancy. A great deal of time was spent, appropriately, discussing efforts being made to improve the university's success (not very good) in recruiting and retaining students. News accounts focused especially on anonymous gifts for an airplane and for extra financial inducement for President Michael Martin to fulfill his contract; also on successes for NMSU at the state legislative session just concluded; and also at the effort being undertaken by ASNMSU (Associated Students of NMSU) to create a more satisfactory image for the university than the one imposed arbitrarily by the administration to replace "Pistol Pete." Retiring Board President Robert M. Gallagher reported informally that he expected the Governor to appoint a new member very soon, perhaps within the week.

President Martin's report was hurried, as usual, at the end of the agenda, with the meeting extending far into the lunch hour. Only here was there any recognition of the long-standing and contentious concern over provision to faculty and staff of health care. Martin asserted strenuously that the university is positioned fairly and legally in regard to "labor" standards. He expressed regret that some public expressions in this regard had been vitriolic and counter-productive. The privilege of free speech, he emphasized, carries with it responsibilities. At his request, because the topic is so complicated, Jim McDonough (Senior V-P for Business, Finance, and Human Resources) outlined specific aspects of the university's plan for health care, explaining that prospective changes will result in savings to the university and fully adequate coverage for all personnel.

Of interest in our (Common Cause) series of reports on NMSU Regents meetings, it may be noted that, while it was announced as usual that the Executive Session preceding the meeting would be to discuss very broadly "personnel, legal and real estate matters," the pro forma "ratification statement" at the meeting was that personnel matters (only) were discussed. Further, as to public participation in Regents meetings, one member of the audience raised her hand to  speak, was recognized, and spoke effectively at a microphone for several minutes. This was Professor Sandra Geiger of the Mathematical Sciences Department. She told me she had not given any prior notice of her desire to speak or made any request to do so. We wonder, would an ordinary citizen be accorded such a privilege?

New board officers were elected at the close of the meeting: M. Steven Anaya to be President, Laura M. Conniff Vice-President, and Student Member Sherry Kamali Secretary-Treasurer.


John P. Bloom

Southern NM Common Cause