Over the last year, the UNM Zimmerman Mural Task Force has engaged in a process on behalf of the University to discuss community impact and response to the Kenneth Adams murals in Zimmerman Library. The murals have been the subject of protest for decades, and most recently in the last few years by some library faculty and staff, as well as student groups like the Kiva Club and the Red Nation.
This task force process led to the formation of an academic course in which students and the public heard over thirty guest lectures about the history of UNM, the history of public art, and various processes of restorative justice.
“UNM must remain focused on matters of campus climate, equity, and inclusion; the status quo is not acceptable,” wrote President Garnett S. Stokes and Interim Provost Rich Wood in a message to task force members. “We have heard from several faculty, staff and students that the murals make them feel excluded and attacked. We know that many people enjoy the murals, and we remain committed to a solution that ensures that everyone feels welcome at UNM.”
The task force was formed to evaluate and share recommendations with the provost and the president. Proposals include removal, concealment, and other alternatives. Because the murals are part of the historic character of Zimmerman Library, any changes to the murals have to be considered carefully by the Regents Historic Preservation Committee and ultimately decided by the Board of Regents. Costs and environmental hazards involved in any proposed remedy will also be considered.
A short-term recommendation for how to address the murals question will be presented to the Regents Historic Preservation Committee next week.
Ongoing campus discussions about symbols, climate, public art, and place names on campus will continue, including how to address the murals long-term. To this end, Wood has asked the Division for Equity and Inclusion to convene a new committee to address the matter of the University seal, co-chaired by Lawrence Roybal, Ph.D., interim VP of Equity and Inclusion, and Robin Minthorn, Ph.D., faculty member in Native American Studies and co-chair of the UNM Diversity Council.
The controversial UNM seal depicting a frontiersman and conquistador was suspended the spring of 2017 by then President Chaouki Abdallah.
“We believe this is the best way forward,” stated Stokes and Wood. “We remain committed to continuing a longer-term process to ensure that our campus is inclusive to everyone.”