The University of New Mexico is attempting to breathe new life into a parent association that was gasping for its last breath. After months of internal struggles and miscommunication with University administrators, the majority of the Board of the UNM Parent Association quit as the fall semester began. The remaining handful of board members called an emergency meeting to disband, but after talking with UNM administrators about concerns, decided instead to try to repopulate the board and revive the association.
Melissa Vargas chief of staff for the provost, put out a call for parents on the association's email list asking for volunteers who would be interested in serving on the board and received 14 responses. The next step in the process will be to reconstitute the board and get the parent association up and going again.
"We believe parent volunteers are a great asset to this University," said Greg Heileman, executive director of the UNM Parent Association and UNM associate provost for curriculum. "We are working hard to provide them the resources they need to reestablish the association and to continue to do valuable fund-raising for student scholarships,"
Former UNM president David Schmidly's wife, Janet worked with the UNM Parent Relations Office to form the association five years ago. Maria Probasco became its first president. After Probasco's term ended, the association wanted to change the by-laws to allow the past president to remain on the board. Probasco and the other dozen board members who resigned in mid August claimed the University did not recognize that by-law change, failed to fill a promised staff position and did not support the association.
University administers explained that the by-law change did not go before the Board of Regents, as is required, and thus could not be recognized. The University had received more than 100 applications for the staff position, which was in process of being filled. Under the Memorandum of Understanding with the Association, UNM provides accounting, business, financial, legal and public relation services, through the provost's office.
The most recent board president, David Garrett, resigned prior to the board's mass exodus, after just a couple of months in the post. In a letter explaining his decision, Garrett stated "The recent reporting of the controversy between UNM and the PA necessitates clarification. " He continued, "UNM expressly stated they did not want to be involved in the election process of any board or executive member. Moreover, UNM provided administrative and financial support which assisted the PA in raising funds for student scholarships.
In the past, the Parent Association has raised about $40,000 a year for student scholarships. Two of the biggest fundraisers for this year are already in the works and the new volunteers are hoping this year will bring in as much or more to help students with financial needs.