Graduate Students

U. of New Mexico Faculty Will Consider No-Confidence Vote

February 01, 2009

Professors at the University of New Mexico have obtained enough petition signatures to call a general faculty meeting to consider a vote of no confidence in the university’s president and other leaders, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

The petition effort, which comes as state lawmakers are setting next year’s budget and figuring out how to close a $450-million gap this year, expresses concerns that actions taken by the university’s president, David J. Schmidly, and others “are undermining public support for the University of New Mexico, and thus have negatively affected the State Legislature’s view of the university.”

Among other things, the petition expresses “extreme concern about the diversion of instructional funds to pay excessive administrative compensation, as well as cronyism and other irregular hiring practices by the administration.”

A study last year determined that the university was spending $4.1-million more on executive compensation than it did in 2002, a 71-percent increase, the newspaper said. And while a university investigation found no evidence of cronyism in hiring, one controversial hire involved the president’s son, Brian Schmidly, who declined the post before taking office.

President Schmidly, whose total compensation for the 2007-8 fiscal year was $587,000, announced last week a freeze on executive salaries, including his own, and cuts in administrative spending. But that apparently was not enough to forestall the petition drive, and it came two months after Mr. Schmidly announced budget-cutting steps that suspended promotions and salary adjustments for faculty members and other employees.

It was unclear when the faculty meeting would be held. —Charles Huckabee