| Have You
Thursday / 2:30pm
If WNMU's antics have been of concern to you, attend the WNMU Regents Meeting Thursday 15 May and add your presence and voice to the call for reform.
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Long notorious for accusations of cronyism, secrecy,
intimidation and a Climate
of Fear - WNMU is now feeling increasing pushback
from citizens, faculty, LULAC / League of United Latin
American Citizens, candidates and rank and file of the Grant
County Democratic Party and in it's last two Board of Regents
meetings, from Juan Jose Pena, chairman of Mesa Redonda Hispana de
Nuevo Mexico - The NM Hispano Round Table or HRT.
Mr Pena's grandfather was a close associate of Felix Martinez who introduced the bill in the 1893 New Mexico Legislature which established what are now WNMU and New Mexico Highlands universities. A search of the sophomoric WNMU website provides only the sketchiest details regarding Martinez though a building on campus bears his name.
Mr Pena has a long history of activism, in-the-trenches organizing and effective challenges to the political and educational structures of New Mexico. He participated in the preparation of the Richard Sombrano Report for WNMU which detailed historic deficiencies of WNMU regarding Hispano representation and parity among the regents, administration, faculty, staff, and students. This was only one of a series of Sombrano reports which focused respectively on a number of NM educational institutions including the Albuquerque public schools.
Mr Pena pointed out the historic and continuing deficiencies of WNMU and other supposedly NM "Hispanic Serving Institutions" in bringing about Hispanic parity as demonstrated by demographics of the Grant County and the service area which is predominantly Hispanic. He also offered to partner with WNMU in implementing a plan based on HRT's 10 Action Items To Achieve Academic Excellence. No member of the administration or regents responded with any suggestion of acceptance or interest other than their customary "If you have materials to submit, we will consider them..." This response is not atypically offered with a perceived thinly veiled contempt equivalent to, "Thanks for sharing! Have a nice day... somewhere else!"
Like too many pieces of groundbreaking civil rights legislation, The WNMU Somrano Report is no longer in effect having fallen victim to the same regressive forces which prompted its genesis. That it is no longer "in effect" was triumphantly invoked by Regent President Tony Trujillo who declared "I did my research..." This, of course, begs the question of whether his research method included legal counsel at the rate of hundreds of dollars an hour on the WNMU tab.
But Juan Jose Pena's pointed and prima facie rebuttal that the composition of the WNMU Regents and higher administration is totally Anglo with the single putative exception of Mr Trujillo himself - in a majority Hispano county and service area - belies the inference that the Sambrano Report is in essence some quaint relic with no useful purpose, meaning or application. While Mr Trujillo is by name and ethnicity Hispanic, his actions on the WNMU board and associations including his longtime place of employment, Phelps Dodge, hardly make him a champion of the rights and well being of the Hispanic Community. On the contrary, many - and particularly within the predominantly Hispanic organized labor community at the mines and on campus - consider him as PD's and WNMU's hatchet man - a sellout.
His apparently gleeful comment regarding the naming of Juan Chacon building hardly qualifies as proof of Hispanic parity at WNMU. Among his concluding comments at the December 14 meeting he made the odious suggestion that his being a local resident and self interested party made him the more qualified to evaluate (and approve) WNMU's dodgey performance regarding serving Hispanics than Mr Pena who has dedicated his life to the struggles for social equity. Hearing Trujillo speak was truly breath taking... it sounded so much like the despicable statements of Southern bigots dismissing and condemning civil rights activists with the claim that "we know how to treat our Nigras down here without you Northerners coming round and stirring up trouble." In this instance, apparently, North would be anywhere beyond the border of Catron County.
The litany of offences arising from the WNMU administration of John Counts and the Tony Trujillo dominated governing body, the Board of Regents, are too many to mention and stretch back for years. But the unconscionable raise in Counts salary last year - amounting to something close to $1 million over three years - triggered the current wave of protests and ongoing efforts to curb their excesses and demand accountability and transparency. The recent WNMU Faculty Senate's vote of No Confidence in VP for Student Affairs Chris Farren, and suggestion that a similar vote may be taken with regard to Counts himself, is a strong indicator of the change in the landscape here in Grant County.
In addition, a number of residents made the 600 mile roundtrip to the August Regents meeting to confront them on issues including Counts' compensation, their "charm offensive" as expressed in the initial Town & Gown meeting and other questions not only too numerous to list, but too numerous, apparently, to get responses from the Regents. The structure of the "Regents Information Session" is not one to foster dialog, but to allow the Regents to create that appearance while refusing response to any inconvenient issue and providing tailored responses without further rebuttal should they so choose.
The December meeting brought more citizen criticism and open challenges to the administration and regents by tenured faculty on the poor salary and working conditions at WNMU and the erosion of retention of tenured and key faculty due to deteriorating circumstances which the regents and administration have precipitated and/or failed to address.
Another contentious habit of WNMU is having the Regents meetings at far flung locations. Some of these have been in Gallup or T or C where WNMU has "satellite campuses" but two of the last three have been at the toney Tamaya Resort (the August 10 meeting was for a "retreat" - figures on the cost of THAT will come later...) near Bernalillo and in Rio Rancho. Both of these are more than three hundred miles from the campus and WNMU has no facilities in these locations. The certain effect is that the activities of the Regents and administration are further removed from public awareness and the opportunity for public input is further limited.
Even generic requests for agendas and minutes of these meetings is met with a demand for a formal request for records which often take weeks to, uh, "process" or as many assume to be more likely, be vetted by the inner circle so that no piece of information that might be revelatory ever escapes the attention of the hellish Cerberus of the Regents, administration and their legal lackeys.
This program covers portions of the 10 August 2007 and 14 December 2007 WNMU Board of Regents meetings. .
Click here for
Mesa Redonda Hispana de Nuevo Mexico / Hispanic Round Table
Click here for
HRT 10 Pt Plan
for Academic Excellence
Click here for
LULAC / NM
and here for
LULAC / National
Previous RFS programs on WNMU