Inside the Capitol

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

8-29 Aggies Beat Lobos For Pete's Papers

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Aggie hustle has won Lobo Pete Domenici's archive material in a major New Mexico coup.
Our state's longest-serving senator had planned to split the many truckloads of material between New Mexico State University and his alma mater, the University of New Mexico, but downstate enthusiasm for doing a bang up job scored a total victory.
For awhile, it appeared the two schools would engage in a healthy battle for the papers, plaques, photographs and other memorabilia, but then NMSU forged ahead to close the deal for the total collection.
Domenici said the NMSU pitch was more enthusiastic and more comprehensive. It included authoring a book about Domenici, hosting an annual Domenici Public Policy Conference and formation of a Domenici Institute for Public Policy -- all wrapped up in what it calls the Pete V. Domenici Legacy Project.
A Domenici Legacy Committee was appointed last January to steer the projects various components. It is headed by former and NMSU dean of business Gov. Garrey Carruthers and includes many big names in politics and business from throughout New Mexico.
And, of course, it would be nice to have a big new building to house what is estimated to be at least eight semi-trailer trucks of material. That's another area in which NMSU excels. It has a history of recognizing the right person at the right time with the right connections to get a building built.
Witness NMSU's Center for the Sustainable Development of Arid Lands. It is housed in Skeen Hall and was built in 2000 near the end of U.S. Rep. Joe Skeen's illustrious tenure as chairman of the Agriculture Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. The subcommittee chairmen are called cardinals because of their control over appropriations to the agencies under their control.
NMSU's first priority for federal funding this year will be money for construction of the Domenici archives building. Bet on them receiving it.
UNM's experience, on the other hand, has been one of never being able to position itself correctly to take advantage of situations. Some years ago, it constructed the Robert O. Anderson School of Management building, hoping the wealthy southeast New Mexico oilman would contribute generously. He didn't.
Maybe UNM is too big to be Johnny on the spot. Big bureaucracies do move slowly. But bigger universities than UNM hustle successfully for money. My information is that the former dean of the Anderson School of Management was carrying the ball on the Domenici papers and after all the turmoil at the school last year, the ball was dropped.
It was former NMSU president Michael Martin who steered through the proposal with Sen. Domenici. Martin was a hustler. Judging from his prior accomplishments, new UNM President David Schmidly is also.
Schmidly is in the process of beefing up UNM's communications and marketing function to the tune of $4.4 million. The main idea is to improve UNM's image. It may take that much.
NMSU spent considerable money to attract President Martin and keep him for awhile. It may have not spent much money on image improvement contracts. Martin was good at that himself. And then there was NMSU's tradition of successes.
The Domenici Conference last week was pronounced a success. Not much public policy was discussed. Most of the speakers spent their time heaping accolades on Sen. Domenici, although many did mention the issues that the senator championed during his 36 years in office.
An interesting sidelight to the conference was that all the elected leaders who spoke were Democrats. That included Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Chris Dodd of Delaware, Gov. Bill Richardson, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish and Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima. Sen. Dodd also delivered a message from Sen. Barack Obama.
Rep. Tom Udall attended the conference. Rep. Steve Pearce did not attend. Rep. Heather Wilson was traveling in Afghanistan.
FRI, 8-29-08

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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