NMSU BOARD OF REGENTS
SEPTEMBER 8, 2006
This morning meeting took place in the Regents Room, Educational Services Center, on campus. All members were present. Deviating from recent practice, an Executive Session was not held in advance, but one was scheduled for the afternoon "to discuss litigation matters and the disposal of certain real estate." The agenda and announcement of the regular meeting, including time and venue, were not posted on the NMSU website until the previous Wednesday afternoon, less than 48 hours in advance. The correct date but a different place were announced last July. Last year, just before the meeting, a meeting date was changed although the place, out of town, was not. To editorialize: This clearly reflects the regents' indifference to having a public presence at meetings, much less inviting public input.
The announced agenda was followed with one interesting change early on, "Approval of Adoption of the Annual Open Meetings Resolution," with the approval of Attorney Bruce Kite. Mr. Kite had been called out of town on urgent business, and participated by means of speaker phone. The resolution was not discussed in detail, nor was its text provided except, seemingly, to the regents.
The next regents meeting is announced for Friday, October 20, no time stated. President Steven Anaya mentioned that the meeting will be held at the Doņa Ana Community College (somewhere) and the focus will be on NMSU's colleges ? branch colleges, that is, whether called "branches" or not.
Six items in the Consent Calendar were approval of room namings on the main campus, all recommended by Vice President Rebecca Dukes. From the minimal discussion of these items, it seemed clear that the names involved were connected with substantial financial donations to NMSU. This is of some interest because a proposal three years ago to assign an appropriate name to the Regents Room, not accompanied by a donation of big bucks, was never acknowledged by the Naming Committee.
Going to "Action Items" on the agenda, Regent Bob Gallagher indulged in the first of two rants (his word), denouncing a memorial passed the day before by the Faculty Senate in opposition to building a convention center (by whatever name, and whether or not under joint operation by NMSU and the City of Las Cruces) on property adjacent to University Avenue and I-10. Prof. Larry Creider, Chair of the Faculty Senate, ex-officio member of the Board of Regents, read the complete text of the memorial and explained his own position on it (difficult, personally opposed). In general discussion it was emphasized repeatedly that the resolution before the regents merely authorized "further discussions" regarding possible "location of the proposed City Center on University lands." NMSU President Michael Martin weighed in with a proposal that defies characterization. Objecting to the memorial's "whereas" holding that agricultural lands would be "permanently" removed from agricultural use, Martin proposed tearing up some major parking lots to plant corn, beans, chile, whatever there ? to prove that the memorial was based on a false premise, at least in part. The regents passed the resolution by unanimous vote.
Among "Informational Items" on the agenda, special attention was given to the report by Executive Vice President/Provost William Flores, on "state-wide articulation." He is involved in an effort to rationalize course offerings and requirements, at first on the undergraduate level, by all New Mexico public universities. If and when successful, thus, a course such as "American Literature 201" would cover essentially the same material with the same number of credit hours, in any of these institutions. General Education and other basic requirements ("modules" in education-ese) would be the same also. This will make things incredibly easier than it often is now, for students to transfer between these institutions.
Regent Gallagher's second rant, at the end of the meeting under "Other" on the agenda, bore on the lawsuit instituted by the ACLU of New Mexico on behalf of three Muslim football players against the university and Head Coach Hal Mumme. This was reported quite adequately, with background information, in the Las Cruces Sun-News of Saturday, September 16. A notable exception to the reporter's accuracy was her statement that Gallagher spoke "during an open input session" of the regents' meeting. Such input by the public is never allowed. During the convention center discussion a woman in front of me raised her hand high three times, in full view of the regents, and was not recognized ? nor again, later, when the agenda called for "Other." She told me later that she had asked in advance by e-mail to be permitted to speak, and had been informed by e-mail that she would not be recognized.
John P. Bloom
Southern NM Common Cause