The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

Five candidates remaining: The importance of NMSU’s next president

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David Castañeda
“Who will be NMSU’s next president?”

Since the 1970s, New Mexico State University has had 13 presidents, with only two of them being women. In the last fifteen years alone, seven different leaders have served at NMSU, including presidents, interim presidents, and chancellors. 

NMSU presidential history dates to 1888 with Hiram Hadley who served for six years. While the average term from 2006 was 8.5 years according to the results of the American Council on Education‘s latest survey, this number has decreased for quite some time. 

According to James H. Finkelstein, a professor emeritus at George Mason University specializing in college presidents and their contracts, the typical president’s contract spans five years on average. This duration has remained consistent over the last 15 years, as indicated by his research on contracts in this field. 

This decreased, fast-paced environment comes with a specific set of challenges intended to have a lasting impact in addressing NMSU’s concerns.  

“I genuinely do feel that nobody was expecting to see that slate of candidates,” said ASNMSU President, Citlali Benitez. “At the end of the day, they are some of the most accomplished individuals that I have come across in my very short lifetime, I think they would do a great job leading our university. But I do understand the concerns that were voiced by both the students, community members and all of our stakeholders.”  

 Through a long and calculated search, five candidates were chosen through a national selection process. The New Mexico State University Board of Regents announced the finalists that contend for the position of NMSU’s next president. 

 

The five finalists are:  

-Wayne E. Jones Jr., Provost, and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of New Hampshire 

-Richard B. Williams, Former President of Utah Tech University 

-John Volin, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost of the University of Maine 

-Michael Galyean, former Provost, and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Texas Tech University  

-Austin A. Lane, Chancellor of Southern Illinois University 

 

More information on their profiles, experience, resumes and DEI statements can be found here.    

The names of the finalists were revealed at a special meeting Friday, Feb. 2, 2024. Assistance for the search was provided by WittKieffer, a search firm, as well as an internal, 24-member committee guided by retired NMSU Senior Vice President, Ben Woods. 

“On behalf of the 24 members of the search committee, we express our thanks to each and every applicant,” Woods mentioned. “Their interest in joining the NMSU family honors each of us. We also recognize and thank the finalists for their commitment to participate in the uniquely public process we utilize to select university presidents in New Mexico.” 

 Each candidate was assigned a campus visit, as mentioned by the Regents Chair Ammu Devasthali 

“We began with listening sessions held all over the state, where we heard from stakeholders who shared their ideas about where the university system can improve and what their priorities are for NMSU’s next leader,” Devasthali expressed. 

Each candidate participated in a public forum held by the Board of Regents in partnership with NMSU’s Faculty Senate and Associated Students of NMSU at the Corbett Center Auditorium and the Atkinson Recital Hall, Music Center from Monday, Feb. 26 to Friday, March 1. 

Two sessions were assigned to each candidate; a morning, staff session and an afternoon, student assembly. The forums were open to not only students, faculty, and staff but to all members of the campus community and the public.  

The main concerns raised by the student body range from inclusion and diversity, student retention and engagement, boosting up the Opportunity Scholarship, graduate student educational challenges and the enrichment of the student experience overall.  

One of the main concerns posed by the graduate student union was tuition remission and the fact that many graduate students cannot afford to pay all expenses to attend this institution and often resort to sleeping in their cars.  

 “As you may know, almost 90% of our peer institutions pay tuition coverage for graduate workers, and our union has had to fight tooth and nail just to get four credits of tuition remission,” said Lindley Hornsby, Political Action Chair of the NMSU Graduate Workers United.“When on average, we take nine credits. I am a dual degree student, I take 15 credits a semester.” 

 Hornsby also advocated for tracking down graduate student retention and international student support. According to the NMSU Graduate Workers United website, over 800 graduate workers perform a distinct set of jobs at the university ranging from TA, GA, and RA duties centering on education and research and about half of those student workers are international students.  

“They do the same work as domestic students and to support our teaching capacity, our research activity and administrative function,” added Hornsby.  

Undergraduate students were also urged to participate in the sessions and were encouraged to ask important questions.

One student from the audience, majoring in Government, inquired about ideas the candidates can provide to combat food and financial insecurity at NMSU aside from the existing emergency funding and food pantry. Another student asked how the candidates plan to honor and use the university’s Hispanic serving and minority-serving status to their advantage and to propel student success for all demographics.

While controversies have entangled NMSU’s reputation, the hope remains to select the individual that possesses the best aptitudes to carry the institution’s mission and commitment.  

All livestream Zoom recordings for the candidate sessions can be viewed here 

The Board of Regents also urges the NMSU community to fill out a online evaluation form by March 6.  

The responses will aid in the selection process and track down feedback on each finalist.  

“The student’s voice matters so so much. And I think it gets fooled, or there’s this perception that the student voice gets bulldozed over, but no, our regents are listening, or university administration is listening,” stated Benitez, who attended and participated in each question-and-answer session with a series of five pre-drafted questions gathered by the Student Government.

“They want to hear from the students; they need to hear from the students. So, I highly, highly, highly encourage and implore any student that is reading or perhaps listening to please participate in that survey.  

It is worth mentioning that the selected candidate will hold the title of president rather than chancellor. This shift reinstates a former designation and organizational setup that has been predominant throughout the university’s history. 

The chosen individual is set to be introduced as NMSU’s next president on March 11. The Board of Regents will conduct their regular meeting open to attendants at the Las Cruces campus or via Zoom 

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About the Contributors
Andrea Vasquez, Staff Writer
Andrea Vasquez is a second semester transfer senior at New Mexico State University, majoring in Journalism and Media Studies. Although she was born in Mexico, her life has been shaped by the border experience and having the chance to be part of a tri-city adventure (Juarez, El Paso, Las Cruces). She previously attended El Paso Community College and Wiley College in Marshall, Texas. In 2022, she interned at KTSM Channel 9 News in El Paso, Texas and completed a photography internship at The Santa Fe New Mexican during the summer of 2023. She also participates in NMSU’s student broadcast News 22 as a Spanish anchor and producer for Noticias 22. She intends to pursue a career in the journalism field as both a reporter and a photographer. She is entering her first semester at The Round Up as a staff writer and photographer. For her, having the opportunity to learn and contribute to the NMSU community is a great privilege that she does not take for granted. Journalism offers a chance to observe events closely and more professionally, but disconnecting is also important for her. She likes to enjoy outdoor activities as well as spending time with family and friends and catching up with series and documentaries.
David Castañeda, Multimedia Director
David Castañeda is starting his second year here at The Round Up, this being his first year as Multimedia Director. This is his second year at New Mexico State University and is majoring in Journalism & Media Studies. He was born and raised in El Paso, Texas as an only child but is extremely happy to be able to call Las Cruces his new home. David has had an affinity for photography since he was in elementary school and has only fallen deeper in love with the art through this job. Though David enjoys nothing more than to be behind a camera he loves to try to explore new hobbies and career options. He’s currently focused on improving his photography at The Round Up and working with the Multimedia Specialists to make the Multimedia team the best it can be. When he isn’t taking photos or editing them on Photoshop, David loves to spend his time with his 3-year-long girlfriend in their apartment where they frequently cuddle up in bed to watch some trash TV and films. On his own, he loves to play the bass and listen to music. His favorite artists are The Strokes and Gorillaz.    

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