Douglas Ziedonis and Dr. Stokes
By El Gibson

Lobo Love

Students and Faculty Showcase Opportunities and Contributions at N.M. Legislature’s UNM Day

SANTA FE – The Roundhouse overflowed with cherry, silver and turquoise for the annual University of New Mexico Day at the New Mexico Legislature on Monday, Jan. 30.

Colleges, departments and programs filled the rotunda with decked-out tables, highlighting all the opportunities The University of New Mexico has to offer, as well as contributions the university makes to the state.

“I’m so excited to be here and see all of UNM Health and Health Sciences represented, as well as all of the colleges across the university,” said Douglas Ziedonis, MD, MPH, executive vice president for Health Sciences and CEO of the UNM Health System. “It’s important to meet with the Legislature and the public and show them all the great work we’re doing.”

I’m so excited to be here and see all of UNM Health and Health Sciences represented, as well as all of the colleges across the university. It’s important to meet with the legislature and the public and show them all the great work we’re doing
Douglas Ziedonis, MD, MPH, Executive Vice President for Health Sciences and CEO of the UNM Health System

Representatives from the School of Medicine, College of Pharmacy, College of Nursing, Comprehensive Cancer Center, Health Sciences Library & Informatics Center (HSLIC) and more were represented at their tables, which were covered with free goodies and promotional materials. Students and faculty were able to interact with legislators and community members.

Several area high schools were also in attendance as part of district-wide field trips to the Roundhouse. Students interested in applying to UNM strolled from table to table to learn more about the schools, campuses and programs at the state’s flagship university.

College of Pharmacy students hosted a health screening at their tables, which included flu and COVID-19 vaccinations, blood pressure monitoring, blood glucose and cholesterol testing, as well as testing for atrial fibrillation.

“We were able to demonstrate to the public about what pharmacists and student pharmacists are capable of,” said Dean Don Godwin, PhD. “Student pharmacists can do a lot more in this state than a lot of professional pharmacists can do in other states.”

Across the Rotunda, HSLIC Executive Director Melissa Rethlefsen, MSLS, AHIP, set up a table with other HSLIC representatives where they talked to dozens of high school students about what the Health Sciences library can offer students – other than a quiet place to study.

“I’ve never seen so many high school students in here before, so it was a unique way to interact with them and show them what we can do for them if they choose to attend UNM,” Rethlefsen said. “We’re showing the impact UNM has on the state, and this was a really great way to showcase all the things we do that people might not know about otherwise.”

While UNM Day offered a chance to connect with legislators and the public in a central location, it was also a unique opportunity to advocate for legislation that would impact the University, as well as ensure these discussions and interactions with leaders and policymakers take place year-round.

Student and faculty success was officially acknowledged, as memorials were unanimously passed in both the House and the Senate declaring Jan. 30, 2023, as “UNM Day” in recognition of the university’s contribution to education, research and public service on behalf of New Mexico residents.

“It was a great opportunity to be in both the House and Senate to see the process of a legislative session and have UNM be honored with its own day,” Ziedonis said.

Several of the House of Representatives and Senate members spoke up before the memorial votes, as many of them graduated from UNM or are otherwise connected to the university.

Democratic Sen. Martin Hickey of Albuquerque, a retired physician and former School of Medicine professor, spoke fondly of his time teaching at UNM.

“UNM makes such a difference, and it continues to grow and serve the state of New Mexico,” Hickey said. “Being a professor at UNM was some of the most satisfying work I’ve done. The thrill of being able to teach new doctors and recognizing their skills was unmatched. Now it’s up to us to figure out how to keep them here.”

After the Senate vote, Republican Sen. Mark Moores of Albuquerque, a former Lobo football player, led alumni into the UNM fight song as the rest of the senators and the audience in the gallery clapped along.

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