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UNM names foundation president, equity VP

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The University of New Mexico and its nonprofit fundraising arm announced on Tuesday the hiring of two top officials.

Jeff Todd

The UNM Foundation named Jeff Todd as its next president and CEO. Todd is coming from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, where he has been the vice president for development and alumni engagement since 2010. He also has worked with alumni associations for Oregon State University, the University of Arizona and the College of Wooster. He has more than 30 years of leadership experience in fundraising, alumni relations and other work in higher education, according to a UNM Foundation news release.

The foundation has refused to provide the names of applicants for the position.

On UNM’s main campus, Assata Zerai was announced as the next vice president for equity and inclusion.

Assata Zerai

The hires continue a trend in which UNM President Garnett Stokes has brought in officials from public universities outside New Mexico to fill key leadership positions at the state’s flagship university. Zerai comes from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she was the associate provost for faculty excellence at the Big Ten school.

“Dr. Zerai is a proven collaborative leader and advocate for inclusivity, diversity, equity and accessibility, and I’m excited to welcome her to The University of New Mexico,” Stokes said in a statement issued Tuesday. “I am confident that she will tap into UNM’s already vibrant and diverse culture, and engage with individuals across the university to build alliances, partnerships and collaborations that will strengthen our communities.”

Zerai’s position had been held on an interim basis by Lawrence Roybal, executive director of the ENLACE Statewide Collaborative. Prior to that, Jozi De Leon held the position before taking a job at Cal Poly in the summer of 2017.

The University of Illinois has the highest percentage of tenure-track faculty from underrepresented racial/ethnic minority groups relative to other schools in the conference, according to a UNM news release.

During her time at the school, Zerai also has been the associate chancellor for diversity, an associate dean in the graduate college and the director for the Center of African Studies. She was also a professor of sociology, the release said.

“I am so inspired by the faculty, students and staff, and am excited to learn more about the issues that are important to them, as well as what motivates their resilience during turbulent times. I look forward to working on behalf of students and scholars at The University of New Mexico who are ready to tackle the essential questions of humanity,” Zerai said in a prepared statement.

Zerai has a three-year contract beginning Aug. 1 and will make $215,000 a year, said Cinnamon Blair, a UNM spokeswoman.

Before Stokes appointed Zerai, a search committee led by UNM School of Law Dean Sergio Pareja considered applicants. The Journal requested a list of all applicants, and the university released copies of six resumes. Four of those were named semifinalists, and they visited UNM’s campus in April and held public forums.

Stokes, who was hired in late 2017 and took over in March 2018, has hired James Paul Holloway as provost. Holloway came from the University of Michigan. Stokes tapped Teresa Costantinidis, from the University of California, San Francisco, to be the senior vice president for finance and administration.

At the foundation, meanwhile, Todd will replace Henry Nemcik, who is retiring after nine years. The foundation said in a news release that Todd was selected by a UNM Foundation Board of Trustees search Committee that had 12 individuals and also worked with a search firm.

The foundation didn’t release Todd’s salary information. A spokeswoman for the foundation did not return a phone call or email on Tuesday.

In addition to raising money for the university, the foundation also invests and manages endowed funds on behalf of UNM.

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