View Point—Even regents’ seats are now contentious

Even learning is political these days.

Remember when members of a university’s board of regents were supposed to approve budgets, hire (and fire) university presidents and lobby lawmakers and private donors for money?

Remember when the people appointed to those jobs were supposed to maybe know a little something about education, or know about managing educators, but mostly they were supposed to be numbers managers with enough common sense to realize the golf team’s budget should not rival that for the school of nursing?

Yeah, those days are gone.

The rejection of Clovis attorney Matt Chandler to the University of New Mexico Board of Regents last week throws a spotlight on just how political our world has become. Even higher-education learning is a battleground for “liberals” vs. “conservatives.”

UNM’s website tell us: “The Board’s power to govern the University includes fiduciary responsibility for the assets and programs of the University, establishment of goals and policies to guide the University and oversight of the functioning of the University.”

There was a time when most people read that and thought their job would be to spend less than they took in and to help ensure all of the graduates could make thoughtful, logical decisions when confronted with forks on the roads of their lives. Now the mission seems to be more about creating numbered soldiers who will march to political ideology and recruit more for the machine.

It’s not that we feel sorry for Chandler. He plays the game as rough as anyone, as his detractors reminded everyone in his confirmation hearing last week. But when he’s not parroting the GOP agenda, he can be an effective communicator witha gift for gab and, ultimately, fundraising.

Back when learning wasn’t political, those were the kinds of traits universities wanted in their regents.

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