Editor’s note: The story has been updated. One of the provost candidates formally withdrew from consideration on March 26.
Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
The University of New Mexico’s Faculty Senate president says members of the faculty are raising concerns about the lack of diversity among the remaining two finalists for the institution’s top academic post but said the two other finalists were “diverse candidates” who took jobs elsewhere.
UNM is declining to identify those two finalists.
“While we have a very talented and diverse pool of candidates, it would not be appropriate to discuss the details of the search committee deliberations while the search is ongoing,” said Cinnamon Blair, a university spokeswoman.
UNM brought the remaining two finalists – Paul Holloway and Michael J. Benedik, both Anglo men – to campus last week. It’s unclear whether any other candidates will make visits to UNM.
During a faculty meeting last week, Pamela Pyle, Faculty Senate president, who is on the search committee for provost, addressed concerns she said were raised by faculty members about the lack of diversity. Pyle said during the meeting that the committee provided UNM President Garnett Stokes with the names of four candidates but that two have since accepted jobs elsewhere. Both of them were “diverse candidates,” she said.
A schedule on the university’s website says a third candidate is coming to campus, but does not list a name. Blair said that the third “candidate has not been confirmed” but that the university has scheduled for him or her to come to campus next week.
The university contracted with a private search firm – Isaacson, Miller – for the initial part of the search. University documents show the estimated cost of the firm will be about $126,000 for the provost search.
The university declined to provide the total number of names submitted to or gathered by the search firm.
Instead, last week UNM released the names of 11 applicants, including Benedik and Holloway, who were “selected to submit letters of interest to the search committee as semi-finalists or finalists after affirmatively responding, upon request, that they wished to move forward in the search,” according to Cinnamon Blair, a spokeswoman for the university.
The two finalists for the UNM provost post who visited the campus brought up their work on diversity fronts during last week’s public forums.
Pyle said in an interview that multiple faculty members have raised concerns to her about diversity among the candidates, but she declined to discuss any other specifics about the search; committee members had to sign confidentiality agreements, according to university officials.
Holloway, vice provost for global engagement and interdisciplinary academic affairs at University of Michigan, was on campus on Monday and Tuesday last week. Benedik, a vice provost and chief international officer at Texas A&M University, spoke at public forums last week on Thursday and Friday.
“Higher education, to me, is one of the most important activities that humans undertake,” Holloway told a public forum. “It’s the body of work in which we develop the uniquely human capability of having a plastic mind and be able to develop our minds, to develop our intellects to create new ideas.”
Holloway earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Illinois and a doctorate in engineering physics from the University of Virginia. He started at Michigan in 1990 as an assistant professor and became a dean in 2007, before being named an assistant provost in 2013.
Benedik said he has experience directing an academic institution to focus on particular issues and improve them, whether they be recruitment and enrollment, retention rates or research.
“I kind of see (diversity) as an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to engage the institution in reflection and dialogue with thinking, what does it mean to be a public university in a diverse community?” Benedik said during a forum last week. “I think higher education has failed students coming from diverse backgrounds.”
Benedik studied as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago and earned a doctorate from Stanford University. He started as a professor at Texas A&M in 1985 before joining the faculty in 1989 at the University of Houston, where he stayed until going back to A&M in 2005. He was on the Faculty Senate from 2005 to 2012 and was named vice provost in 2015.
Meanwhile, the nine additional candidates UNM identified were:
• Beth Fisher Ingram, a former provost at North Dakota State University.
• Carol Parker, a UNM Law School professor and former senior vice provost.
• David Perlmutter, dean of the College of Media and Communication at Texas Tech University.
• Scott Pratt, executive vice provost for academic affairs at the University of Oregon.
• Javier Reyes, dean of the College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University.
• Jorge Reina Schement, a vice chancellor at Rutgers University.
• Mary Beth Walker, an associate provost at Georgia State University.
• John Michael Wiencek, provost and executive vice president at the University of Idaho. Wiencek said he formally withdrew from consideration on March 26.
• Richard Wood, interim provost at UNM.
UNM provided their names and résumés to the Journal in response to an Inspection of Public Records Act request. Their résumés are available on the Journal’s website.
Stokes has said diversity within the administration is a priority.
UNM released the names of finalists in two other ongoing top administration job searches: for senior vice president for finance and administration and vice president for equity and inclusion. Stokes has also said that a top enrollment official for the university needs to be hired.
The finalists for the senior vice president position are Teresa Costantinidis, Dan Layzell, Kevin Reynolds and Terry Pankratz. They will be on campus next month. The Journal has submitted a records request for all of the applications and is awaiting a response.
The finalists for the equity and inclusion position are Nancy Lopez, Daryl Joji Maeda, Christine Zuni-Cruz and Assata Zerai. They start visits to the campus beginning today.