Meet the candidates for NMSU’s next interim provost

Ernesto Cisneros

More stories from Ernesto Cisneros


On Feb. 10, New Mexico State University held an open forum on campus and through Zoom to welcome three contenders for the joined position of interim provost and chief academic officer currently held by acting Provost Dr. Renay Scott. Community members had the chance to ask questions and learn how candidates plan to help the university’s faculty, administration and LEADS 2025 mission.  

All three candidates are part of The Registry network which is an organization the places qualified administrators in temporary assignments while the university hires a permeant replacement. Here’s a quick rundown of the candidates and their responses to some of the questions asked.  

Dr. Lynn Franken 

  • Former Interim Provost/VP for Academic and Student Life at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, WA 
  • English Literature academic focus 

Dr. Franken was asked numerous questions including the importance of shared governance to being able to work at an institution that is Hispanic and minority serving. One highlight of her forum was when she stated the value of working with all students and faculty regardless of their background.  

“If you want to understand people, you have to be with them and listen to them and value what they say, it can’t be performance and that kind of is the secret to shared governance,” Franken said. “You have to be the first one to step forward.”  

Franken also said she is more than willing to work with the faculty, noting that she would go to them if asked rather than forcing them to come to her. Her priorities would be on building trust and “being helpful” as much as possible to the university.  

Franken emphasized a willingness to learn and establish roots with the community to help get the university where it needs to be in terms of its mission and search for a permanent provost.  

 Dr. James Mackin 

  • Former Interim Associate VP for Faculty Affairs at California State University Northridge in Northridge, CA.  
  • Oceanography/Geophysical Science academic focus  

Dr. Mackin has held numerous provost-related positions during his career including one at Abu Dhabi University in the United Arab Emirates. His experience internationally and previously at Cal. State Northridge, a Hispanic serving institution, sparked interest from community members. Mackin emphasized the importance of both qualities; however, his experience in transforming university leadership and confidence stood out during his forum.  

“I’ve run into just about any situation you might want to look at, I know there have been some trust issues between the administration and the faculty and I have encountered that situation before and I’ve had some success in really restoring the trust,” Mackin said. “I would hope to be able to help this institution to move forward in a trusting climate.”  

Mackin stated that communication is crucial and gave an example of how he was able to earn that trust previously at other institutions.  

“When I ran into this issue before, I was with the faculty and staff constantly in various different forms, we had open forums like this to discuss specific issues,” Mackin said. “Every year I would visit every single academic department and I didn’t bring an agenda with me; I was there to listen.”  

 When asked how he plans to uplift the mission of NMSU, Mackin stated he would “ensure everything is done in a transparent way and a fair way.” 


Dr. Dorothy Campbell  

  • Former Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at Texas A&M University system in College Station, TX.  
  • Speech communication academic focus  

Dr. Campbell’s work in higher education has led her to work at other Hispanic and minority serving institutions where expanding diversity and academic programs was a priority, especially since she is a first-generation student from a family of 11. She opened with that sentiment in her forum.  

“I love higher education, communities that are diverse, and by that, I mean everybody, mainstream whatever stream you’re in, we believe in just celebrating everybody,” Campbell stated.  

Like the previous candidates, Campbell was asked how to build trust with the community considering the challenges of communication between the faculty and administration here at NMSU.    

“I would work with the deans, department chairs, and faculty to find out what is the source of the mistrust, really listen to the students and do it in an honest way whether it is true or not, your perception is your reality,” Campbell said. “I would do a lot of listening.”  

When asked what attracted her to NMSU, she said the strong focus on students outlined in the university’s mission/vision and LEADS 2025 strategic plan.  

“I liked it a lot because anything that focusses on student excellence and community engagement is really good,” Campbell said.  

Candidate resumes and further information can be found by visiting the NMSU Provost Website.  

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