University of New Mexico Regent Thomas Clifford has drawn criticism for comments he made at the Board of Regents meeting on Thursday — including from his fellow regents.
Regent Bradley Hosmer, who joined the Board in 2011, wrote a letter to the Albuquerque Journal in which he stated he does “not share Regent Clifford’s views on the UNM graduates.”
As previously reported by the Daily Lobo, interim Provost Richard Wood was criticized by Clifford when he said that UNM has a six-year graduation rate of around 50 percent.
“50 percent of our customers get nothing of value that they can show,” Clifford said. “That’s not a good product, folks.”
Wood responded by pointing to UNM’s 4-year graduation rate, which has doubled in the past five years to around 32 percent.
In his letter, Hosmer sided with Wood on the matter.
“Provost Wood's response was accurate, timely, and mercifully brief,” Hosmer wrote. “(Clifford’s) view about UNM graduates exposes an indifference to the facts of higher education in New Mexico and specifically at UNM.”
Hosmer also addressed what he sees as Clifford’s lack of assistance in regards to improving these statistics.
“As far as I know, he has not inquired about what UNM is doing to improve quality of education, or what the Regents can do to help,” he wrote.
Issues surrounding the enrollment decline at UNM dominated discussion at the meeting. The University has seen a one-year decline in total enrollment of around eight percent, according to the official enrollment report. There are nearly 18 percent less new freshman at UNM than during the Fall 2017 semester.
Hosmer said hearing troubles prevented him from accurately comprehending Clifford’s statements so that he could respond
“I also regret that none of my fellow regents spoke up at the time,” he wrote.
This is not the first time this year that relations between members of the BOR have been contentious. Alex O. Romero resigned from the Board in March due to what he referred as “a lack of respect.”
Clifford and Hosmer, as well as three other regents, will complete their time as regents at the end of this year. Hosmer’s term ended in 2015, but he has stayed on because a replacement has not been approved by the New Mexico State Senate. Governor-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham will choose their replacements. It is unclear whether or not she will also ask Board of Regents President Robert Doughty and Vice President Marron Lee to resign from their positions as well. Both Doughy and Lee’ will finish their terms in 2020.
Kyle Land is the editor in chief for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @kyleoftheland.