The proposed Student Union Building Taproom and Chaouki Abdallah’s time at the University of New Mexico were discussed at Tuesday’s Board of Regents meeting, among Coronado dorm renovations, communication between regents and athletic debt.
Associated Students of University of New Mexico and UNM faculty representatives expressed concerns regarding the proposition that the athletic department’s $4.7 million deficit be forgiven.
The concerns involving the athletics department debt were discussed during the public comment section of the meeting. Pamela Pyle, the Faculty Senate president, was the first to speak against the idea of forgiving the debt. She said she received 25 emails from fellow faculty members that agreed with her aversion to the idea.
Regent Robert M. Doughty, president of the board, responded by asking Pyle her opinion regarding the recent forgiveness of the $7 million that was owed by UNM Press.
Pyle said, “I don’t think anyone is for absolute debt relief unless you do it for all of our departments.”
The criticism of the proposition continued, as College of Education Associate Professor Kathryn Watkins also spoke against forgiving the debt.
“I urge the Regents to not send the message to faculty members that some are important while others are not,” she said. “I want you to recognize that the faculty unanimously, in my particular college, is concerned with this forgiveness of debt.”
ASUNM President Noah Brooks also spoke regarding the debt.
“I would ask that the forgiveness of any debt across campus would not happen,” Brooks said.
The board explained that they were still considering a number of options regarding the athletic debt, and no action has been decided upon yet.
The BOR also discussed the need for better communication between regents.
Regent Suzanne Quillen said the regents must continue to communicate and meet more often.
"We have a responsibility to communicate. We don't have to agree on everything, but we have to communicate," Regent Alex O. Romero said.
Later, Abdallah began his last administrative report as interim president.
He began by saying, “Thanks to a lot of effort” UNM has secured about $4 million new dollars for main campus. He continued, saying, “We did much better than we started out — the total new funding for UNM is $30.476 million.”
Despite this, Abdallah said, “We are still not out of the woods.”
He then changed subjects to the concern of migrating faculty, and said, “Many people are leaving the University and taking jobs elsewhere. Many universities have their budgets more in line, and they are poaching our faculty.”
To further exemplify this point, Abdallah said 19 faculty members left the College of Arts & Sciences in the last academic year.
Upon the conclusion of the administrative report, Doughty took a moment to formally thank Abdallah for his 14-month-long stint as interim president.
“He has done so much more than keep the University running — he has kept it advancing. He has truly led this University through a significant chapter in its history,” Doughty said.
Doughty then asked if there was a motion to officially make Abdallah the 22nd UNM president — rather than be considered an interim president. The motion passed unanimously by the board.
Stokes will still take office as UNM's new president on March 1. Instead of being recognized as the 22nd president, she will be recognized as the 23rd.
Later, the Finance and Facilities Committee presented a number of reports, including the UNM Taproom Risk Assessment Form that the board requested previously. The board complimented the report, headed by Director of Safety and Risk Services Carla Domenici, for its thoroughness.
Eventually the board called for a vote to approve the UNM taproom, and the motion was carried through unanimously. According to the report, construction is planned to begin in May, and the facility is set to open on August 3rd.
The board also approved a renovation plan regarding the Coronado dormitory. The committee reported students say they are happy with the recently refurbished bathrooms, and this new renovation plan aims to continue the process.
The project, which would take place over Summer 2018, is estimated to cost $2,489,205 and will include a number of improvements including new ceilings and light fixtures, continued renovation of the remaining bathrooms and accessibility lifts to accommodate more students.
Austin Tyra is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @AustinATyra.