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Friday, December 19, 2014

Decisions are made in the best interest of UNM

Editor,

The job of the University President is to guide and represent the University and look out for its well-being in a financially, academically and socially conscious way. Sometimes I have to make unpopular decisions.

I strive to communicate clearly the reasons for my decisions and the long-term benefits to UNM.

I have heard the passionate commentary about my recent decision to move the budgets for Athletics and University Libraries out of the Student Fee Review Board (SFRB) process, and I’d like to tell you my rationale.

I share the campus’s concerns about our budget and its impact on our students, faculty and staff. I made a promise to reform our budget process, as it was not efficient or effective. I have kept that promise.

Let me be clear that I did not agree to wait until the fall to make any decisions regarding the SFRB.

While we had discussed postponing a decision until the fall semester, that agreement was not finalized and the spirit of those discussions were that we not implement changes over the summer while students were away from campus.

A “suggestion for our [GPSA & ASUNM] joint statement with President” was emailed to my office asking a member of my staff to “let me know if President Frank approves of it.”

This proposal was not comprehensive and did not address the challenges we are facing in regard to our budget process, so I did not approve or sign it.

I made the decision to remove University Libraries and Athletics from the Student Fee Review Board process as part of larger budget process reforms, all of which are designed to allow more time for input, discussion and dialogue — it is the process, not the opportunity for student input that has changed.

I am disappointed that words such as “liar” have been attributed to this disagreement. I am certainly not a liar and have always made my decisions based on a holistic approach that balances many needs and concerns.

I love this University, am a proud alumnus and am honored to serve as its President.I would like to emphasize that the student voice will always be heard and taken seriously.

The establishment of a Student Cabinet will diversify opportunities for direct student involvement, but it will not in any way lessen my engagement with student government and other sources of students’ input.

The Provost and I acknowledge that there is always room to incorporate more diverse feedback from students who are interested in finding solutions to complex institutional challenges. This is all about communication and opening more doors — it is about inclusivity.

UNM’s culture and character is one of strong student leadership and critical thought. Students will continue to have a strong voice through our excellent student government processes.

As well, students’ voices will be heard through their participation in campus committees, student activities and the new student cabinet.

Thank you for your many contributions,

Robert G. Frank

UNM President