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UNM hosts provost finalists starting today

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Two candidates for provost at the University of New Mexico will be making public and private appearances on campus this week as university President Garnett Stokes moves to hire a top executive.

Paul Holloway, the vice provost for global engagement and interdisciplinary academic affairs at University of Michigan, will be on campus today and Tuesday. Michael J. Benedik, a vice provost and chief international officer at Texas A&M University, will be at UNM on Thursday and Friday. Both are being considered for the job of provost and executive vice president of academic affairs, which is one position.

The candidates’ stop on campus will include public forums today and Thursday. Holloway will have one session with faculty and another with staff this morning, followed by a community and campuswide public meeting today at 3 p.m. in the Student Union Building. Benedik will follow the same schedule on Thursday.

Richard Wood has been serving as the interim provost since Chaouki Abdallah resigned at the start of the current school year to take a job at Georgia Institute of Technology.

The provost is the top academic official at UNM. The Office of Academic Affairs oversees all aspects of UNM’s academic mission, including research, teaching, service and academic personnel.

Wood said during a university meeting last week that he applied but was not chosen to be one of four finalists who were recommended to Stokes by a search committee comprised of university employees and the firm Isaacson, Miller, which UNM hired to find candidates.

The search committee headed by Barbara McCrady, a psychology professor, provided Stokes with four candidates, Wood said. Stokes had previously said she wanted four unranked finalists.

A webpage the university created to provide updates on the search for provost identifies Benedik and Holloway as candidates. It also says an unnamed candidate will be on campus April 10.

The university canceled a candidate forum it had previously scheduled for last Thursday, according to the university website.

It wasn’t clear if Stokes, who will make the final decision on the hire, had whittled the four recommendations down to Holloway and Benedik or if anyone else will be considered. The university hasn’t responded to a Journal records request made earlier this month for the names of all applicants for the position.

“The candidates were selected by the search committee, which worked with the search firm. At this point we have scheduled two candidates for campus visits (this) week,” UNM spokeswoman Cinnamon Blair said in an email. “After campus feedback is collected, the President will consider the feedback from all stakeholders, and will make the final decision.”

Susan Boe, the vice president of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, said nothing prohibits UNM from disclosing all applicants and the finalists for the position.

“It’s an unfortunate battle because the public needs to know who public bodies are looking at as potential candidates,” Boe said.

She said there are several important reasons why the public should know who is being considered for high-ranking public positions.

“Often, public bodies will say the reason we couldn’t hire a person of color or a woman is because the applicant pool was so thin,” Boe said. “How do we know that for a fact if we don’t know who the candidates were?”

The provost salary is negotiable, Blair said. Abdallah was making $318,238 annually when he left UNM.

Stokes, who became UNM’s president in March 2018, also still needs to hire a vice president for equity and inclusion and the senior vice president for finance and administration.

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