Former higher ed secretary fills new role at UNM

University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes has tapped Barbara Damron to head the University’s government relations efforts through the remainder of the fiscal year, university officials announced this week.

Barbara Damron

Damron was New Mexico’s cabinet secretary for higher education for four years for former Gov. Susana Martinez. She currently is a faculty member in the UNM School of Medicine’s Department of Family and Community Medicine.

“Dr. Damron is a national leader in higher education — her strength as an administrator and understanding of state and federal government will be critical as the focus on higher education and health care continue to unfold,” Stokes said in a prepared statement. “Combined with her understanding of New Mexico and people served by UNM, this depth of experience will significantly enhance the strategic efforts of our government relations efforts.”

As part of a reconfiguration of top university officials, Stokes created a chief government relations officer position at UNM and more than two dozen people applied for the position. UNM, however, closed the search on Sept. 6 without making a permanent hire.

A spokeswoman for UNM said the original plan was to have the position filled by the start of the 2020 legislative session. But now the university is holding off on filling the position to consider ongoing issues at the federal level such as the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and health care reform.

UNM officials said plans for a new search for a permanent hire are ongoing.

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