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UNM reassesses some of its operations

Several University departments and positions are under review as a result of the Board of Regents' decision in March to restructure the Health Sciences Center so that it falls under the control of the University's main campus administration.

In an April 6 memo, President Bob Frank outlined four areas to be addressed by June 30, including:

  • Consolidation of the HSC Legal Office under the University Counsel.
  • Consolidation of information technologies and transition to a single campus-wide email system.
  • Creation of a healthcare facility group to guide the hospital planning process.
  • Creation of a committee to recommend consolidation possibilities in communications and marketing.

According to University spokeswoman Dianne Anderson, the University Counsel section of this consolidation plan has already been completed. Further, in a message from Frank on June 29, he said the transition to a single UNM email system was abandoned for the time being after objections were raised over it.

“It has become apparent to me that an effort meant to unify our campus has instead had the opposite effect, growing into something that risks moving us further apart,” Frank said. “As a faculty member myself, I appreciate how important one’s identify is within our profession, and the role that an email address can play in that identity.”

However, Frank said he hopes new faculty, staff, and students will use the @unm domain when they join the University.

Amy Wohlert, chief of staff for the Office of the President, said as of July 13 the committee to review communications and marketing, which Wohlert is leading, is close to completing their initial analysis.

According to the April 6 memo, those positions under review include: Chief University Marketing and Communication Officer Cinnamon Blair, Director of Media Relations Dianne Anderson, Director of HSC Communication and Marketing Billy Sparks and Director of HSC Communication and Marketing John Arnold, among others.

The communication and marketing review is being conducted by Steven Sloate of Cirra Associates. The committee is working with Sloate to find ways to increase efficiency, Wohlert said.

“The various reviews are adapted to different needs and timelines. The overall goal is to ensure collaboration, integration, and consolidation as appropriate for each administrative function,” she said. “Using outside consultants gets us off to a quick start and gives us an independent perspective.”

When asked about the overlap between positions under review and members on her committee, Wohlert said it is not a review of individual performance but rather an examination of marketing and communications functions and the overall organizational structure.

“The members of the committee are the experts in the existing structure, and our outside consultant is the objective expert who will weigh their input and provide recommendations,” she said. “The focus of this exercise is not on cutting positions. It’s about ensuring that we have the right positions to accomplish our goals.”

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Blair, both under review and part of the reviewing committee, said she had anticipated some sort of formal process after the March regents meeting to increase alignment and efficiency between main campus and the HSC.

Many public institutions across the nation are conducting similar reviews and looking to create varying levels of alignment for the same reasons, she said. Blair said she recognizes that, in marketing and communication, things change very quickly and the department always has the need to optimize to keep ahead of those changes.

In the past 10 years that she has been a part of the department, Blair said it has restructured as necessary and it reevaluates positions all the time.

She said that restructuring includes assigning new duties or directions to positions while eliminating others, moving people to different divisions and changing job descriptions to keep up with technology and industry trends when a vacancy occurs.

“This is a critical way for us to remain focused and serve UNM and our campus in the best possible way,” she said.

Blair said in the review process, participants have all been given the opportunity to provide input on ways to collaborate and be more efficient on all operational levels, as well as better understand what each area does.

“I’m fine with it - review is part of improving the way we operate,” she said, adding that so far the process has been informative and positive in general.

Blair, as part of the review process, has been providing information on the UCAM department, including how it is structured, its goals and its budget in addition to staffing challenges and opportunities. She has also provided information specific to her own duties and goals.

MORE: Regents approve HSC governance change despite opposition

This is not the first restructuring during her time at UNM, as UCAM restructured 5 years ago.

“This included evaluating our positions, looking for gaps and room for improvement, and making some organizational changes,” she said.

Blair said she expects this review to have a positive conclusion for UNM.

“We’ve discussed the need for desired outcomes and metrics to be associated with the recommendations,” she said. “The review is to make us better at what we do. The position is under review, not the individual.”

Blair said many public institutions have either recently or are looking to streamline their marketing & communication areas.

“While there are different approaches, being inclusive of the staff within those positions is, in my opinion, the most beneficial,” she said.

Sloate, has management experience in universities, academic medical centers and health systems. He is currently a clinical assistant professor at the University of North Carolina, according to UNC’s website.

There was a strong negative response from the public to the regent’s decision in March to restructure the governing board of the Health Sciences Center. However, the public response to the review process has been positive, according to Wohlert.

“I have heard from members of the public that they appreciate efforts to increase collaboration and curb administrative spending,” said Wohlert.

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