I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Richardson replaces three regents at NMSU
LAS CRUCES — Gov. Bill Richardson replaced three of five members of the New Mexico State University Board of Regents today, opting for new blood at a time when the university is going to be making a second attempt at finding a new president.
With little explanation, Richardson replaced Steve Anaya, Bob Gallagher and Student Regent Ed Kellum with Thomas “Dick” Salopek of Las Cruces, Javier Gonzales of Santa Fe and Student Regent Christopher Anaya. The new regents’ terms will begin on Jan. 1, a news release from Richardson’s office stated, but the appointees must be confirmed by the Senate before they can begin their work, and the Legislature doesn’t convene until Jan. 20.
In the meantime, the terms of Steve Anaya, Gallagher and Kellum end on Dec. 31.
In an e-mail, Gallagher claimed that he was told he was going to be reappointed, “so I expected to be able to continue some very important work we are in the middle of, and I would like to complete these projects.”
“I think some experience and continuity would make sense here. The timing of the announcement is curious in that the Senate must hold hearings and confirm regents, and the Legislature does not even convene for two months,” Gallagher said. “I am honored to serve NMSU, and my record shows I always put the university first. I would be honored to serve again, should I be asked.”
Asked why he believed the governor didn’t reappoint him, Gallagher said: “Private conversations between the governor and I should stay that way. I do not think I am in the position to answer that.”
Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said in this in response to Gallagher’s comments:
“When a regent comes up for reappointment, the governor typically takes the opportunity to appoint someone new,” he said. “The governor likes Bob Gallagher personally, but he wants news blood on the Board of Regents. The governor also believes the addition of these three outstanding new regents could help the board with its presidential selection process.”
Salopek is a pecan farmer who has a bachelor’s in agronomy and soil science from the university. Gonzales, a former Santa Fe County commissioner, is a well-connected politico who has spent the past four years as chairman of the New Mexico Highlands University Board of Regents and has a bachelor’s in accounting from NMSU. Christopher Anaya is a sophomore majoring in government.
Richardson’s appointments come less than a week after the regents, led by Gallagher, suspended their search for a new president to replace Michael Martin, who left earlier this year to be chancellor at Louisiana State University’s main campus in Baton Rouge. In scrapping their search process after spending some $90,000, Gallagher and others complained that a state law requiring the regents to publicly name five finalists was unfair and hampered the process.
The regents decided to restart the search next year. Waded Cruzado will remain interim president, and she may be allowed to apply for the permanent position the second time around, though she was not during the search that ended last week.