Both are Republicans with backgrounds in businesses and experience in the state legislature
Governor Susana Martinez has nominated two appointees with business backgrounds to the UNM Board of Regents, pending Senate committee approval.
Following confirmation, Don Tripp and John Ryan – both Republicans – would replace current Regents Jack Fortner and Bradley Hosmer. The transition would spell an end of an era of sorts for the board, as Fortner has served in the seat since 1998, having been appointed to successive terms by three different governors.
According to a UNM release, Tripp graduated from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. He has served in the state legislature, and was speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives from 2015 to 2017, according to the release.
Tripp has also “served on the Board of Directors for State National Bank, and is a former director of the Association of Commerce and Industry.” He has previous regent experience, having served on Western New Mexico University’s board in the late ‘90s.
In a telephone interview with the Daily Lobo, Tripp said that while his prior tenure as a regent will come in handy, it’s the experience from his time serving in the state legislature that he will be able to utilize the most. He served on the Finance Committee in the past, and said that as a result he has a good grip of the statewide financial situation, as well as how some changes at UNM could have economic reverberations across the state.
Tripp also said he would like to understand as much as he can about what occurred mostly behind closed doors between UNM regents and former President Bob Frank. The two parties ultimately agreed on a settlement that ended Frank’s tenure a semester early.
“The more historical knowledge I can gain, the better,” Tripp said, while also touching on what he hopes the next president of the University values. “I think you need a president that can carry out the mission of the University. We need a strong workforce in New Mexico, and UNM can play a big part in that.”
Ryan, according to the release, is a native of Albuquerque who attended UNM. He went on to receive a master’s degree in international management at the University of Maryland.
Ryan recently served three terms on the New Mexico State Senate, as well as held the position of executive director for the Republican Party of New Mexico. He could not be reached by the Daily Lobo for comment by press time.
Acting UNM President Chaouki Abdallah gave his stamp of approval in the release, highlighting two areas the University is currently struggling with.
“I’m pleased that the governor’s nominees have such extensive experience in the state legislature,” Abdallah is quoted as saying in the release. “I look forward to working with them on the issues such as budget challenges and Lottery Scholarship solvency.”
While these appointments go a long way in filling important vacant seats, UNM is still in the process of finding a new University president. Mary Clark, a speaker on the UNM Staff Council, said the selection of the new president will also ultimately fall to Governor Martinez.
“I don’t think the new regents will have much influence with the presidential search as they are not on the search committee,” Clark said. “However, they are Republicans who are allies of the Governor so I’m sure, as in previous presidential hires, the Governor will have the final say.”
Martinez has yet to nominate a new student regent off a list of candidates that was submitted to her by University leaders last semester. Ryan Berryman submitted his official letter of resignation to the governor after he graduated in December.
Until she names Berryman’s replacement, there are six members on the board. Meanwhile, the New Mexico Constitution calls for seven.
David Lynch is the editor-in-chief of the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.