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Monday, December 22, 2014

Who stays, who goes? Up to Martinez

His term is up, but Jack Fortner said he is confident he will retain his seat on the UNM Board of Regents.

Fortner, the vice president who has served two terms spanning 12 years, said he thinks Gov. Susana Martinez will reappoint him, but downplayed how much of a role his campaign contributions will factor into Martinez’s decision.

Martinez was unavailable for comment.

In November, the Daily Lobo reported Fortner donated more than $40,000 to Martinez’s campaign before being appointed to her Higher Education Task Force.

Fortner said the task force made recommendations about campus operations and cabinet positions that oversee New Mexico’s universities. He said the tuition credit, money the Legislature subtracts from its annual UNM appropriations, was a hot topic for the task force.

“The tuition credit is a big deal,” he said. “Some of those recommendations were a 10 percent tuition increase. Do we transfer the burden from the taxpayers to the students and the parents? I hope to keep the burden as light as possible on the students.”

Fortner said his biggest accomplishments as a regent were completing campus construction projects, such as the Barbara and Bill Richardson Pavilion at the UNM Hospital, the architecture building and parking structures.

If reappointed, Fortner said his experience will be helpful to filling important budget holes at UNM. He said he is unclear if or when Martinez will consider regent appointments.

“I just know the governor is right now occupied with doing the cabinet,” he said. “That’s not complete; there are three or five positions. I spoke with the chief of staff that after they do that, then they will move on to the other appointments.”