NMSU BOARD OF REGENTS
MEETING OF FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2007
This meeting convened in the lobby of the NMSU Albuquerque Center at 2:30 PM on Friday, September 7, 2007. All members were present. As to media on hand, only one: a reporter from the ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL.
Included in early routine agenda matters was approval of the minutes of the special regents meeting of July 23, 2007. This was done by unanimous vote without any effort to fill in the essential blank spaces (labeled "inaudible") in the presentation made then by this observer. No person in the room on July 23 had complained of my remarks as being inaudible.
October 22 was listed in the agenda for the next board meeting, but one member urged that it be changed to the 19th: TBA. Nine items in the "Consent Calendar" were approved unanimously without discussion.
Under "Action Items" the first was "Approval of Adoption of the Annual Open Meetings Resolution," presented by NMSU General Counsel Bruce Kite. This is a "pro forma" resolution affirming that the state Open Meeting Act is being observed. Considerable discussion ensued, first as to posting of agendas, harking back to the dust-up in July when Common Cause observed that the agenda for July 17 had not been posted "as usual" (on NMSU website, Communications Office). This had forced the special meeting of July 23. (The chair observed vociferously that it was not really necessary because the agenda had been on the NMSU Library home page, but the Regents bent over backwards to hold the special meeting.) Result: future agendas will be made public 24 hours in advance of every meeting, not earlier. The requirement under law is that agendas be made public "no later than" 24 hours in advance.
Second under "Action Items," NMSU President Michael Martin asked Mr. Kite to comment on the legality of the regents meeting for dinner or lunch, their longstanding custom before or after meetings. With careful phrasing which might do justice to a Philadelphia lawyer, Kite gave comfort. No advance notice is required, these are merely social gatherings, as long as no vote is taken. It is OK to discuss NMSU business. Quorum or not, it doesn't matter.
Executive Vice President and Provost Waded Cruzado-Salas, just a few days on the job, presented for approval new "Promotion and Tenure Policy Guidelines," a document years in the making. Faculty Senate Chair Wanda Eastman and others joined in considerable discussion with emphasis on how great the new guidelines are, groundbreaking, showing NMSU leadership in the nation, etc. Two noted improvements are that, in case of serious illness or childbirth causing an interruption in service, the required time for a faculty member's promotion in rank will be adjusted in her/his favor. Further, in regard to a research project, a professor can get credit for being a co-Principal Investigator. Heretofore, credit was given only for being the one, singular, Principal Investigator. (Ed: Hear the cheers! It is only the 21st century, we do not have to wait until the 22nd!)
President Martin indulged in a veritable rant for the benefit of the ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL reporter, that recent writings involving (especially) use of the university's airplane were a disservice to the university and the public at large, giving the impression that he was having a jolly good time flying around at taxpayer's expense, perhaps to enjoy such destinations as Disneyland. Other objections were raised to the Journal's reporting. Regent Bob Gallagher joined in, at length, noting that one of the mentioned trips produced a contribution to NMSU of $1.2 million. Martin concluded, remarkably, with an offer to pay personally to have the reporter's car washed if he takes the trouble to visit the NMSU campus.
Reporting more conventionally as President, Martin assumed his usual "cheerleader" mode. Enrollment is up on every campus; NMSU leads comparable universities and colleges in major categories, especially regarding research activity; things are going great.
Reaching the nearly last agenda point, "Other," I asked to be recognized and took a seat at a microphone (no mike possible on July 23). I had provided each regent with a notice downloaded from the UNM Board of Regents website, explaining that:
"Public comment may be considered ... as follows:
"Public Comment specific to an item on the Board's agenda can be made when that agenda item is presented.
"Public Comment unrelated to items on the Board's agenda can be provided at the end of each Board of Regents Meeting prior to adjournment."
Further, the Regents may have known that, at the entrance to a UNM Regents meeting, a sign-up sheet is provided at the door for public comment during that meeting.
I stated that I had come to the meeting with one question for them, but now had two. First, to follow up on my inquiry at the meeting of July 23 when, in speaking during the meeting and in informal discussion afterwards, I had pointed out that the NMSU Board of Regents is "out of step" with comparable boards in New Mexico and adjoining states. Second, if I had understood correctly a decision made during this meeting (N.B. I was not corrected in this), the plan now is to provide agendas no earlier than 24 hours before a meeting. When it is observed that persons desiring to address the Regents now must apply in writing two weeks in advance, it seems to me to be counter-productive. I leaned back from the microphone. Chair Laura Conniff announced, "With that, this meeting is adjourned." And it was. I made no attempt to have informal conversation, given the large number of persons present earlier in the meeting.
Important reports were made regarding NMSU faculty research accomplishments and the NMSU/UNM Health Initiative, widely reported in the press. Similarly, in a joint meeting with the UNM Regents on Saturday morning, September 8, many important reports were made and progress was made in ganging up -- UNM and NMSU -- on the legislators in the next session. The flawed formula used in allocating appropriations to all NM institutions of higher education needs attention, not to disadvantage the smaller campuses, but to recognize the different, special needs of NMSU and UNM. And, oh yes! There was lots of jocularity regarding the impending football game and other topics. Out-of-town meetings, perhaps, lend themselves to lots of jocularity!
John P. Bloom
September 14, 2007
for Southern New Mexico Common Cause