SANTA FE -- The chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee says Gov. Susana Martinez's appointee to the New Mexico Highlands University Board of Regents shouldn't serve because he is suing the school, but the governor is defending her choice.
Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, sent a letter to Martinez this week saying the appointment of Carl G. Foster "is not only unacceptable, but is in fact ludicrous."
She said she will recommend the committee not confirm him.
Foster is a former adjunct faculty member at Highlands who taught special education at the Rio Rancho campus until 2012. He sued the school and the board a year ago, alleging that Highlands reduced, then eliminated, his course load after a graduate student complained about him.
He alleges breach of contract and violation of his due process, and claims the school withheld information from him in violation of the state's open records law.
The lawsuit was filed originally in state District Court but was removed to U.S. District Court, where the school last week filed a motion to dismiss it, saying it is baseless.
"This is a student issue in relation to a professor. ... This has nothing to do with how the university is run," or with his ability to help guide it, Foster told the Journal on Tuesday.
"I think the credentials speak for themselves, and I think I can contribute to New Mexico Highlands' wonderful legacy," he also said.
A spokesman for Martinez, Enrique Knell, said in a statement the Governor's Office was told of the lawsuit during the vetting process.
"It is our understanding that the matter did not involve malfeasance nor does it take away from Dr. Foster's long education record or from his extensive public service," Knell said.
The spokesman said Foster would bring to the board "a lifelong commitment to education and to the state."
Foster had been scheduled for a confirmation hearing today, along with other regent appointees. But he said he told the committee last week he had a scheduling conflict and asked that his hearing be held at a later date. It has not been scheduled.
Lopez wrote in her letter to the governor that Highlands "has faced many challenges over the years and needs a unified governing board, administrative leadership team and alumni foundation."
"It should be obvious that litigation between the parties would create an undesired obstacle between the university and one of its regents," she wrote.
Lopez is running for the Democratic nomination for governor in this year's election. The Democratic nominee will face Martinez, who is running for a second term.
Foster, who lives in Albuquerque, has a doctorate in educational administration. He is a former member of the New Mexico Commission on Higher Education, and is on the board of the National Hispanic Cultural Center and a member of the Public School Capital Outlay Oversight Task Force.
Original headline: Senator criticizes governor's pick for Highlands regent
Most Popular Stories
- Top Hispanic Tech Companies Push for the Top
- 5 Notable Hispanic Technology Executives
- Taco Bell Rings Up Breakfast Menu
- Russia, Crimea Discuss Referendum
- California Establishes Center for Coffee Study
- China Urges Malaysia Flight Emergency Response
- For Obama, a Last Stab at Improving Ties with Capitol Hill
- 'Holy grail of guitars' OM-45 Deluxe Available in in NY Auction
- Visa, MasterCard Team Up to Focus on Payment Security
- Sunday Starts Daylight Saving Time