On Monday, the Senate unanimously confirmed UNM regents Conrad James and Suzanne Quillen and student regent Heidi Overton.

These newest members of the Board of Regents, appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez, will replace regents Don Chalmers and Carolyn Abeita, and student regent Jacob Wellman, whose terms expired in December.

According to a press release, James is a former state representative from Albuquerque who served one term in the House starting in 2011. He holds a Master’s degree and Ph.D. in applied and engineering physics from Cornell University and has worked at Sandia National Labs as a research engineer since 2002.

Quillen is the CEO of Advanced Care Hospital of Southern New Mexico in Las Cruces and is a registered nurse and certified nurse practitioner who has previously worked for UNM in nursing education. Quillen holds a master’s degree in public administration.

Overton is a second-year medical student at UNM from Gallup who was valedictorian of Gallup High School upon graduation in 2007.

She graduated from UNM summa cum laude in May 2011 with a Bachelor’s degree in health, medicine and human values.

Regents serve six-year terms on the seven-member board and the sole student regent serves a two-year term.

In other UNM-related news, House Bill 71 passed through the House unanimously last Thursday. The bill provides for the Higher Education Department to conduct a study to determine whether UNM Gallup would be better off as an independent community college, or as another institution’s branch campus, rather than remain a UNM branch campus.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Patricia Lundstrom (D-Gallup), underwent some revisions before being passed through the House.

Before the bill went through the House Education Committee, two additional provisions regarding what a feasibility study for UNM Gallup’s independence should consider were added.

These provisions were added to clarify language in the bill about measuring and evaluating UNM’s academic practices at UNM Gallup and to name specific categories that the study would need to examine.

It will be considered in the Senate Education Committee next, hearing date to be determined.