UNM President Garnett S. Stokes and members of her leadership team answered questions from the campus community in a virtual town hall. 

“The limits we find ourselves operating under now are unprecedented and we all recognize this is unchartered territory,” Stokes said in her opening remarks. “UNM has moved as swiftly and decisively as possible to fulfill our mission”

More than 350 questions were submitted, more than 1,600 people joined the Zoom session via video conference, and phone-in attendees bumped that number to almost 2,400. The president was joined by Chancellor and Executive Vice President for Health Sciences Paul Roth, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs James Holloway and Senior Vice President for Finance & Administration Teresa Constantinidis. 

Additional input was provided by:

  • Dorothy Anderson | Vice President for Human Resources
  • Dr. Christina Beato | Executive Director of Health Policy
  • Pamela Cheek | Associate Provost for Student Success
  • Dan Garcia | Vice President for Enrollment Management 
  • Amy Levi | HSC Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
  • Dr. David Pitcher | Executive Physician UNM Health System
  • Assata Zerai | Vice President for Equity and Inclusion

Assata Zerai, vice president for Equity and Inclusion, set the tone for the town hall– reminding students, faculty and staff about the recently published equity and inclusion guidelines. She encouraged Lobos to stay kind, and stay connected.

“Cook good food, go for a walk, Zoom with friends as much as you can,” Zerai said. “At UNM we let our values of equity and inclusion drive our decisions. We all have different circumstances and we must treat everyone with respect, both in their presence and absence.”

Commencement and Academics
Although the leadership team was unable to answer all the questions submitted both in writing and via Zoom chat, they announced they will have answers posted to the questions of most general interest and frequency on the
president’s website and dedicated UNM COVID-19 website by next week.

Stokes discussed the postponement of the Spring 2020 commencement ceremony and reiterated that a definitive date has not been set. The president stressed that students on the path to graduate will still receive their diploma upon completion.

“We would never dismiss its significance, however, a graduation ceremony is just the way we celebrate the achievement,” she said. 

Students are encouraged to submit graduation ideas and suggestions to univsec@unm.edu.

Although courses will continue remotely through the end of the semester, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs James Holloway said he does not see this as the future for UNM education.

“98 percent of courses are now set up for online learning, but I also don’t see the future of academics moving fully online just because of these new circumstances,” Holloway said. “You spend 6 percent of your college life in the classroom, the rest of it is the learning experience. This is unexpected, but we’re all learning and this is an opportunity to learn new things.”

The leadership team also discussed the impact this will have on students moving forward. 

Vice President for Enrollment Management Dan Garcia said students can opt in for “credit/no-credit” for Spring 2020 classes in which they’re currently enrolled. He said the process is simple and is outlined at the Office of the Registrar’s website.

UNM is allowing courses taken for “credit/no-credit” to be counted toward degree requirements.

“Don’t give up, persist,” Holloway said. “The investment you’ve made in this term can still be rewarded.”

UNM is still moving forward with Summer 2020 and Fall 2020 courses. However, Holloway said it’s still too early to decide if those courses will include remote instruction.

Human Resources
Vice President for Human Resources Dorothy Anderson addressed a set of questions regarding staff and faculty. She said many of the questions are difficult to answer and will have to be reassessed as the situation continues to develop. At this time, she said the University is making every effort to resume the continuation of classes and no decisions have been made regarding future employment or benefit changes. 

UNM will continue paying eligible student employees through the end of this semester, based on their typical work schedule. For most bi-weekly student employees, this is effective through May 15, 2020. Student employees should consult with supervisors about future schedules.

Essential employees
As the University continues to work through a time of limited operations, there are still some employees and students working from campus.

Senior Vice President for Finance & Administration Teresa Constantinidis said UNM custodians have implemented a plan called ‘Cleaning for Health’.

She said all the buildings that are still being utilized are cleaned daily, including doors, elevators, stairwells and project surfaces.

The president ended the meeting by reiterating the importance of patience and kindness. She said the University will continue responding to concerns via it’s dedicated COVID-19 website, including answers to the remaining questions received. Stokes also reminded listeners to keep washing their hands practicing social distancing. 

“We must act all together to slow the spread of the virus,” she concluded.