UNM counsel retiring in June

The University of New Mexico’s next president will have at least one high-ranking position to fill when she takes over next month.

University Counsel Elsa Kircher Cole announced her impending retirement in a Feb. 8 letter to interim UNM President Chaouki Abdallah. Cole will leave June 1, a departure her letter calls “consistent with a long-intended plan.”

“When I took this position in May 2013, I made a commitment to myself and my family that five years in it would be an appropriate amount of time to honor my father’s memory,” Cole wrote of her dad, a UNM alum, in her letter. “I can think of no better job in the legal profession than assisting a university achieve its mission of teaching, research and community service.”

Before UNM, Cole spent 13 years as general counsel for the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Her announcement comes just three weeks before a leadership change at UNM. Garnett Stokes will assume the presidency March 1.

School policy dictates that UNM conduct a national search for the university counsel position and that the president inform the Board of Regents before making an appointment.

The Office of University Counsel has 11 attorneys, including Cole, between its main campus and Health Sciences Center offices. Cole makes $246,000 annually, according to UNM’s sunshine portal.

Cole’s name has appeared in many recent media reports, as she helped coordinate the school’s outside investigations into various allegations against head football coach Bob Davie and his program. Cole said through a UNM spokeswoman that her retirement announcement is unrelated.

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