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NMSU hires provost without a search

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New Mexico State University regents have agreed to hire a former NMSU professor and current University of Colorado, Denver, dean as NMSU’s new provost without first launching a national search.

Citing a need to stabilize the university, regents Thursday unanimously approved a one-time policy exemption that allows new president Garrey Carruthers to hire Daniel Howard, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Colorado, Denver.

Howard was one of five finalists for the presidency early this year.

Carruthers told the Journal on Thursday that Howard has the academic and research experience needed for the job and that he wants Howard to start in the fall. He said the two connected when Howard sent Carruthers a congratulatory note after Carruthers got the job.

Carruthers said community members have told regents on numerous occasions that they wanted university leadership to know New Mexico and its culture and to “come here and stay awhile.”

Howard, hired as an assistant professor of biology at NMSU in 1988, worked his way up to head of the biology department and then interim associate dean before leaving for Denver in 2008.

He could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Regents expressed support for Carruthers in the hiring of a provost and executive vice president

“I have the absolute confidence in the president to select the best person to be able to step into the position,” regent Javier Gonzales said.

Carruthers said the waiver of the policy would help alleviate a “sense of urgency” to hire a long-term provost. Greg Fant, NMSU’s associate vice president and deputy provost since 2011, is currently serving as interim provost.

“The principal reason (for not launching a provost search) is we just completed a quite comprehensive, one of the most sophisticated searches in NMSU history,” Carruthers said of the recent presidential search.

He said that search helped select a highly qualified pool of candidates.

Regent Isaac Pino agreed the university needs to hire a provost quickly. He said regents were constantly told they needed to stabilize the university during a series of public forums late last year and this year. Those forums were held to get comment on the hiring of a new president after former president Barbara Couture was ousted. Couture’s departure, which came with a one-time payment of $453,093, stirred controversy because of the secrecy surrounding her exit.

Dennis Clason, Faculty Senate chairman, said faculty members were evenly divided on the hiring policy exemption. Carruthers had sought faculty approval before going to regents, but a majority of faculty members aren’t on campus or in town during the summer, and the Senate couldn’t gather a quorum to vote on the issue, Clason said.

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