Thursday, February 26, 2009

Time to go?

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

This is University of New Mexico President David Schmidly being given a time notice while he spoke for five minutes during the Faculty Senate meeting in Popejoy Hall.

Schmidly wasn’t speaking to a happy crowd. About 500 faculty members attended the meeting and there were approximately 250 staff, students and members of the public in the balcony. The group had red cards for “hand voting” and all the procedural motions seemed to be passed unanimously. The mood was determined.

The serious voting was done by ballot and included a call for an audit of selected areas of the University budget where cuts have been made to academic programs.
471 votes for the audit
18 votes against
8 abstentions
497 Total votes
Motion on the statement of purpose for the University:
463 votes for the statement
23 votes against
12 abstentions
498 Total votes
In what was termed a “crisis of confidence regarding administrative decision-making by President of Regents, UNM President and UNM Vice-President for Finance & Administration,” Regents President Jamie Koch, Schmidly, and Executive Vice President David Harris faced a vote of no confidence. Harris was Acting President in 2006. Koch’s six-year term as regent has expired and Gov. Bill Richardson has re submitted his name for a second term.
482 votes for no confidence in Regents President Jamie Koch
7 votes against
3 abstentions
492 Total votes

438 votes for no confidence in Executive Vice President David Harris
24 votes against
26 abstentions
488 Total votes

329 votes for no confidence in President David Schmidly
106 votes against
55 abstentions
487 Total votes
So what’s wrong with this picture?

I haven’t seen this much local press coverage since the presidential election. The University’s press relations went out of their way to control the coverage by limiting access to photo opportunities of the three top administrators. It was a ham-fisted effort.

Schmidly has been at UNM 20-months, his salary is $587,000. He is perceived as having a top-heavy administration of politically connected appointees with bloated salaries. Schmidly won’t take a cut in pay.

This is Michael Collins, he is a personal advisor for public and press relations, who is paid $10,000 a month by contract. He is seen here with Director of Communications Susan McKinsey at a 2007 press conference.

Schmidly's son was given a position at a high salary. However, the son never started the job when news coverage applied strong pressure.

Schmidly is perceived as not listening or engaging with stake holders before making important decisions.

The votes are non-binding; an expression of the faculty.

My Take

The faculty's expression should not be taken lightly, nor was it. There were several people in the room representing various interests, including Danny Hernandez, aid to State Senator Linda Lopez who chairs the Senate Rules committee that will decide on the reappointment of Koch as a regent.

State Democratic Party Chairman Brian Colón was in attendance, with his Blackberry in use much of the time. Koch was a Party chair previously and the political implications of this issue are large.

I’ve been taking classes off and on since 1977, with two serious time frames: 1986 – 1990 and 2001 to the present. In those times I have not sensed the urgency that is currently displayed.

Schmidly and crew have seriously upset the institution. Schmidly’s sense of doing good, is not supported by the faculty. It might be time for a new direction.

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