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Higher education chief Damron is among NMSU finalists

New Mexico Higher Education Secretary Barbara Damron (Journal file)

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico Higher Education Secretary Barbara Damron could have another high-profile job in her future.

New Mexico State University regents on Monday named Damron one of five finalists to replace Garrey Carruthers as the institution’s chancellor. Carruthers retires July 1 at the end of his contract.

Damron, who has served in Gov. Susana Martinez’s Cabinet for three years, was also a candidate for the recent presidential opening at the University of New Mexico, though she was not among the finalists. As with the UNM opening, Damron said she only considered the NMSU position after others pursued her and nominated her.

“(University leadership) was never in my career plans – both of these were people coming to me, soliciting me and nominating me,” she said, noting that Carruthers was among those who offered encouragement.

An oncology nurse, Damron is an associate professor in UNM’s College of Nursing. She has been on leave without pay while serving in state government. She said she has never applied for any university president/chancellor job beyond UNM and NMSU – despite having been approached by other institutions outside of the state.

“I’m only interested here in New Mexico,” she said in an interview Monday, citing her positive relationships within the state’s higher education community and with the Legislature, the Martinez administration and all candidates currently vying to succeed Martinez as governor.

NMSU appealed to her, she said, both for its land grant mission and the opportunity to work on student success measures.

Other NMSU chancellor finalists are:

• Dan Arvizu, retired director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

• John D. Floros, Kansas State University’s College of Agriculture dean and director of K-State Research and Extension.

• Robert J. Marley, Missouri University of Science and Technology’s provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs.

• Brian J.R. Stevenson, former president and vice-chancellor of Lakehead University in Ontario, Canada.

NMSU’s regents plan to pick the new chancellor in May, after each candidate makes a campus visit.

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