By David J. Schmidly, President, ‍UNM (Albuquerque Journal Op-ed) -- Despite the headline of your article on the University of New Mexico University Government ‍Relations on Sunday, the work of the Government ‍Relations office is essential to the university and to the state legislative process.

In fact, our Government ‍Relations Department was singled out by an independent national accrediting organization, the Higher Learning Commission, ‍for its work to coordinate and convey university priorities to our state legislative and executive leaders.

Since 2006, the budget ‍for the ‍UNM Government ‍Rela‍‍tions Department has been reduced 26 percent — savings largely due to better management, greater consolidation and a dramatic reduction in the number of contract lobbyists from four to one. 2011 will see even greater savings.

The article refers to the meals provided to legislators and to the functions sponsored jointly by our Alumni Association and our Government ‍Relations office. All our activities are regulated by a strict university policy, closely documented and fully transparent including the dates and times and in most cases the subject discussed.

You may view all our policies, goals and accomplishments by visiting our website at govrel@unm.edu  .

Partnering with our 82,193 ‍UNM graduates who currently live in New Mexico and our core constituencies has been a key component of our governmental efforts. Our Alumni Association cosponsored the event held in December. Our graduates were given an opportunity to speak directly with their state legislators. They conveyed the message that now more than ever we need to give our students the opportunity to acquire the skills they need to compete in a global market, to raise their families and serve in our communities as our doctors, nurses, first responders, lawyers and professionals of all disciplines.

We want our legislators to fully understand and be fully briefed on the needs and the goals of ‍UNM, our faculty, staff and students.

As a flagship research university, we have an obligation to the people of New Mexico to maintain excellence, to protect our academic mission and to do so in a fiscally responsible manner.

Several years ago, we changed our policy regarding the purchasing of alcohol restricting purchases to meals, special receptions and events. Absolutely no Instruction or General Fund monies were ever used ‍for these purchases.

And in regard to what the article called "Morning Shot," the reporter failed to check facts and so made an egregious error. The dinner took place on Feb. 17, 2010, at 6:19 p.m., which was clearly shown on the receipt given the Journal.

‍For the record, I am proud of our Government ‍Relations Department, its 26 percent budget savings in four years, their national acclaim, our dedicated employees and the tens of thousands of ‍UNM Alumni partners who believe in this university and are willing to testify to that fact.