As the University searches for a president and a replacement for regent Sandra Begay-Campbell, we should be thinking about what is best for the future of UNM and who will take us there.

Running the University as if it were a business seems to be the regents' top priority. However, as an institute of higher education, UNM needs to have a perspective that sees beyond budgets.

The regents hired a consulting firm to build up UNM's image - to give us a brand, as it were.

It's silly that we have an advertising firm trying to give us a brand, but that's what happens when your university is more a business than a place of higher learning. Investing in an advertising campaign to bring more students to UNM is a capital venture, not something to benefit students.

If UNM were to use that money to raise faculty salaries, we would attract better professors - therefore, we'd attract more students. In the end, it's a quality education that students want, not a flashy logo.

The regents weren't happy when enrollment declined 2 percent, despite the 10 years of steady growth that came before, as the freshman class doubled in a decade.

The regents wanted someone to do something to keep their business from losing money.

UNM's main campus has more students than quality teachers, space and services to accommodate them.

So, why does it matter if the enrollment levels off? Because UNM is run as a business, and a business must be in a state of constant economic growth.

It's not that there is no place for business at the University.

UNM should be forward-thinking and have interest in economic growth. It's good we have savvy businessmen on the Board of Regents who want to ensure our University remains ahead of the college game.

However, there comes a point where we have to draw a line between the business side of UNM and the students and community it serves. The business side should be the lesser of the two.

We have the opportunity now, with a president soon to be named and a regent taking the place of Begay-Campbell, to bring people to this University who will shift the emphasis toward academia.

The University should appoint new leadership that is focused on academic excellence and providing for the needs of the student body - not establishing a meaningless advertising image in the hope people will think UNM is more hip than other universities.