The past couple of weeks the liberal blogosphere and many politicians, including a few Republicans, have cried out about the University of New Mexico Health Science Center “takeover” by the UNM board of regents, which essentially returned oversight of UNM HSC to the regents, instead of some obscure board nobody has heard of. Critics say the “takeover” lacked “transparency” and UNM faculty are rallying against the more direct oversight.
Just for fun, I’m going to help readers by highlighting certain parts that are particularly important in portions of the articles I’m quoting:
The latest from UNM’s main campus in Albuquerque: 200 faculty members writing to the Board of Regents, protesting last week’s power play to seize authority over UNM Hospital, the Cancer Center, the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing.
The regents did it by abolishing the Health Sciences Council and replacing it with – regents! Many doctors and professors will tell you it’s a move designed to slam the brakes on the plans to build a big new 350-bed hospital. But Gov. Susana Martinez, who appoints the regents, says not so.
“If the regents feel that it’s a good idea and it’s something that is needed, they will build a hospital,” Martinez said Wednesday. “They will propose it to the proper entities throughout state government and then a hospital will be built.”
Unfortunately these people who support UNM come thick or thin, come right or wrong, don’t seem to be looking at the full picture:
An Albuquerque Journal story from several years back, lays out the problems HSC has faced and how it lacked oversight. This appears to be the same kind of absent oversight that causes abortionist Curtis Boyd and his abortion center Southwest Women’s Options to create “agreements” that are sorely lacking and skirt the university’s own policies.
In 2013, UNM President Bob Frank was quoted in an Albuquerque Journal piece:
It is the HSC board of directors, created after regents unanimously approved a new governance structure in 2010, that is the source of heartburn – not just for [UNM President] Frank but for regents Gene Gallegos and Jamie Koch, as well.
“If you were to say, ‘Do the regents and the president have clear accountability and knowledge of all the actions at the university?’ You’d have to say ‘No’ because a lot of things are happening over at the Health Sciences Center that the president and the regents have no knowledge of, and we need to have knowledge.”
HSC Chancellor Paul Roth, who also is dean of the school of medicine, said administrators and regents took months to develop the current structure, which was approved in December 2010.
Roth was acting UNM president at the time while then-president David Schmidly was on medical leave, but both men said recently they worked on the changes for months before regents gave approval.
Frank said while HSC administrators keep him informed about daily happenings, he does not feel he has enough authority there. For example, he could recommend someone for the chancellor position were it to come open, but the board would have to approve the hire. The president also evaluates the chancellor, but his evaluation would also have to go before the board.
“So you get into these crazy tugs of war. And anybody knows that the best way to do it is to consolidate and integrate your organization. And all across the country right now, universities are doing this kind of consolidation and integration under one organized university.”
Possible changes include adding more regents to the HSC board or eliminating it all together, he said.
And, he said, there may be constitutional questions. While the state constitution mandates that the board of regents has full oversight, regents don’t have a majority on the HSC board, Gallegos said.
“As a result we tend to have really two campuses. Simply put, in my opinion, we either are one university and one president and one board of regents, or we’re not. It’s really not that way, but it should be,” [Regent] Gallegos said.
[Regent] Koch agrees, saying the UNM president and regents have little oversight.
“I think Paul Roth does a great job. He’s outstanding … (but) we’ve gone too far,” Koch said. “What you really have is two presidents now … .”
Apparently, this “takeover” of UNMHSC isn’t really a “takeover” but a “take back” and a return to a unified campus, instead of Roth out having his own little kingdom after he was not made UNM President in his own right.
While it would have been nice if the public had been better informed, it isn’t necessarily an issue of “transparency” as much as just giving the public a little courtesy of explaining the background. It seems as if Roth has his own private little project and wanted as much control as possible, even to the extent of splitting the university into two, so to speak.
Several Republican politicians have weighed in on the issue, siding with UNM. This isn’t right and they should seriously review their statements for accuracy. “Transparency” is a two-way street. And their aims at opposing the Governor on this issue because it might get them applause from a few anti-Martinez Republicans, won’t matter when we’re done with the issue.
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