F. Chris Garcia's farewell address to the Board of Regents,
June 4, 2003
(Willard), may I please take a few minutes for a personal message?
and thank you Members of the Board.
First and foremost, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude
for the opportunity to serve our University this past year as
its seventeenth President. This has been a tremendous honor
something to which I never aspired or even imagined.
As a young boy growing up in neighborhoods just a couple of
miles from the university, I only had the vaguest idea, if any,
about what a university was. As I attended parochial and public
schools in Albuquerque, so fascinated was I by teaching and
learning that soon I had my heart set only on someday becoming
a teacher. As I progressed through school, I learned about higher
education and set my ambitions to attend UNM and earn the degrees
and credentials necessary to become a teacher. As good fortune
would have it, some of my kind and supportive professors here
suggested that I should continue toward a doctorate degree and
teach at the college level. A major milestone in my life occurred
in 1970 when, on a divided vote by the UNM political science
faculty (there was concern about hiring a "local"),
I became an assistant professor here. I felt on top of the world.
To be a university professor in my own hometown-this was the
culmination of my dreams.
I never intended to be a university administrator, luck or fate
would have it otherwise. Serendipitously, I became an associate
followed by my being selected to be a Dean, a Vice
President and Provost, and this past year a President.
year, serving in the position of president has been a tremendous
experience for me. Being the president of the University of
New Mexico is undoubtedly a singularly eye-opening and challenging
experience. Although the challenges and pressures are great,
overall it has been a fulfilling and satisfying experience-an
educational one, to be sure-and I am sincerely grateful for
this opportunity. I believe this past year has been a good one
for the university. I believe we have had continuity and stability.
In spite of some turbulent external events, the good works of
our faculty, staff and students have continued with a minimum
of disruption and with as much support as possible. We have
not been inert or static, nor have we marked time; our momentum
on an upward trajectory has been maintained. This is not the
time nor place to evaluate this past year's administrative performance
or accomplishments. At a later date, I will be providing the
Board with my written observations about these. Ultimately,
of course, it is for others to judge how we have done this past
at this point, I would like to offer thanks and express my gratitude
to the many people who have contributed to any successes we
might have had, but more importantly than that, who simply have
made my presidency a positive experience for me.
foremost, I must thank my family-especially my parents and my
wife. My parents are not college graduates. They grew up in
two nearby barrios-my father in Martinez town; my mother in
the South Broadway area. We didn't have many material riches,
but my parents always gave my five younger siblings and me all
the love, support and encouragement for education that underlay
any success we have experienced. It is my good fortune that
my parents are still living close by in the valley of Albuquerque;
and in their 80's, they are still supportive, still interested
in educational, political and civic affairs. Thank you Crucita
and Flaviano. (Yes, that is what the "F" in F. Chris
Sandy, in spite of many physical challenges, has always been
my main source of support, my reality compass, and the "wind
beneath my wings." In addition to her being primarily responsible
for raising our two daughters, it would have been impossible
for me to achieve any professional success without her understanding,
assistance, encouragement and constant support. She has graciously
accepted the fact that for a year we would be spending time
together mainly at University functions. My debt of gratitude
to her can never be fully paid.
are many, many here at UNM who made this past year possible.
Please forgive me for not having the time to mention you all
by name, for I am truly grateful to all of you in this room
(as well as those not here) whose talent, dedication, loyalty
and hard work make the wheels of this institution go around.
individuals, I must begin with my faculty colleagues, especially
the leadership of the Senate and the AAUP, who organized a petition
drive signed by many of my colleagues. I had not even considered
being a candidate, but when your peers honor you this way, it
does make one think. I was greatly honored, but gratefully refused
their petitioning. But they would not accept my answer
the emails, phone calls and personal visits from faculty colleagues
and grew. Then I started to hear from staff members
and from students and from members of the off-campus community
encouraging me to be a candidate.
was a visit I had from two members of the Board of Regents who
came to my office, sat in chairs in front of my desk and pronounced
that they were not going to leave until I accepted the candidacy.
Fortunately, I had a class to teach. Regents Archuleta and Fortner
left, but warned that they would be back! Thank you Regent Fortner
and former Regent Archuleta. I also would like to thank former
Regent Toliver, who in his eloquent and intensely spiritual
manner almost had me convinced that I was the singularly qualified,
optimal candidate ordained to be the next president.
to receive urgings from many people, on and off campus, and
to have extended discussions with many of them
point where I decided I would speak with the Chairman of the
Board of Regents, Larry Willard. I had decided that this would
be the crucial factor in my decision. Our interaction
"vibes" that would be present
more than any objective
details of the position would be a major, perhaps the deciding
factor. Obviously, the meeting went very well. And I thank you,
Chairman Willard, not only for that candid and frank first discussion,
but also for your continued support and candidness, as well
as your numerous contributions in many ways to our university,
throughout this past year.
And I would
like to thank the other members of our Board of Regents for
their support and many contributions-former board members Archuleta,
Toliver, Herrera and Anaya; continuing Regents Begay-Campbell
and Fortner; and new regents Cook, and Koch, Griego-Raby and
and a commemorative thanks to my cousin, Donald Salazar.
can be successful without a top-notch group of people with whom
he works most closely-the members of our Executive Cabinet and
the staff in the Office of the President. We are fortunate to
have a very talented, dedicated and industrious group of Vice
Presidents-Brian, Phil, Julie, Judy, Cheo, as well as the other
members of the Cabinet-Jerry, Terry and Ricardo. No President
can succeed without a top-notch, top-level team
is what I have had. Administration has truly been a team effort.
Plus they are a group of the nicest people one could ever know.
And I don't
want to overlook all other the staff members-associates, assistants,
directors, managers and supervisors who work long and hard in
the Cabinet members' offices
and for that matter in offices
and on the grounds all over our campuses. They are all due my
I have been fortunate to be surrounded by a great team of people
in the Office of the President. They have kept the more direct
business of the President, and sometimes me personally, going
on a daily basis in more ways than one. Diane, Patrice, Norma
Jean, Liliana, Mitch, Bob-thank you.
are the offices that report directly to me, and help keep us
in compliance and hopefully out of trouble. My thanks go to
Nick Estes and his colleagues in our Office of Legal Counsel,
Susie Mullins and our Office of Internal Audit and to our Office
of Equal Opportunity staff.
"event planning and execution" were so often necessary,
I could always count on Scott, Gale, Lorraine and Ly.
administrative positions have been primarily academic ones.
And I would be remiss if I did not recognize the great contributions
of our Academic Deans, department chairs and heads, and of course
, our notable and accomplished faculty, without whose dedication
and contributions, there would be no "flagship" university.
position has expanded my view to see many new aspects of our
"great people doing great things." This not only includes
the divisions headed by our Vice Presidents, but also such organizations
as our Athletic Department, which is so important to our communities.
Special appreciation goes to AD Rudy Davalos, under whose leadership
our athletes have not only reached high levels of athletic competition
this year, but have also set an all-time record in their academic
so many others to thank-our Special Assistants -for Diversity,
Roberto Ibarra and for Economic Development-John Young-and our
branch campus Directors, and the branches' staff, faculty and
appreciated the positive relationships we had throughout the
year with the organizational representatives of our main campus
constituencies-Pat Kiska and the Staff council, Beverly Burris
and the faculty senate, and our student leaders, Jennifer Onuska
and Lorena Olmos.
gained an increased appreciation of how important to our well
being our Alumni Association and our UNM Foundation are. Thanks,
Steve and Bob.
heard how grateful I am to so many here on campus
is just the tip of the iceberg (or, perhaps more appropriately
here, the top of the mesa ) that makes up the UNM community.
One of my regrets is that I cannot thank everyone else personally.
Although I cannot specifically mention here the other members
of our UNM community, my gratitude and appreciation definitely
includes all of you.
course, we are not an island. We are supported by numerous individuals
and organizations off-campus. Although their support is critical
to our success, at this point we can only express in a general
way our deepest appreciation. We must give our special thanks
to our state legislators, Governor Richardson, and those executive
agencies which understand the importance of a first-rate university
and have done their best to support our efforts.
very few regrets about this past year. One major one is that
I have not been able to transcend my own physical limitations
and be in more than one place at one time. Often I have been
requested to appear at three or four functions simultaneously.
Also I have not been able to always respond to you as I would
like to have. Please realize that oftentimes the spirit has
been willing, but it has just been physically impossible. I
ask your understanding for this and extend my apologies.
once more will be returning to my faculty position from an administrative
position. This will be the fourth time I have done this. Surely,
this will be a candidate for inclusion into some book of records
as the "craziest career in higher education!" I will
take with me many pleasant memories of wonderful people and
experiences this past year.
and heartfelt thanks are extended to all who have made it possible
for me to serve as the first 13th generation, native New Mexican,
Hispanic, alumnus, political scientist president of UNM.
everyone, including President-Designate Caldera, continuing
success and well-being.
all very much.