Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
Doing public service for New Mexico families is how the next president of Central New Mexico Community College described the role she will soon fill.
CNM’s Governing Board voted 7-0 to hire Tracy Hartzler as the college’s next president during a meeting Tuesday night.
Board member Virginia Trujillo said, “Tracy, I’m so happy you are going to be at the helm. It’s a big job. This is an institution that does so much for our community – especially our minority community. I want to maintain that and I know you will.”
Hartzler is currently the college’s vice president for finance and operations. She is a lawyer who grew up in the Midwest and learned about New Mexico through her work with American Indian tribes and water law while practicing as an attorney in Washington, D.C. She has lived in New Mexico for 10 years and has worked at CNM since 2015.
“It’s a tremendous honor to serve this community this way and to be able to live CNM’s values,” she said in an interview.
Hartzler, 49, grew up in northern Indiana and earned her bachelor’s degree from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, a master’s degree from the University of Virginia and a law degree from the Catholic University of America. She is a member of bar associations in New Mexico and Washington, D.C.
Her first job in New Mexico was as a special assistant attorney general for the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission. She worked for the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee from 2011 to 2015, where she was involved in changes to funding formulas for higher education institutions and the Lottery Scholarship Program.
Hartzler said that throughout her career, which included about 20 years in the nation’s capital, she’s always been attracted to public service by working on projects from scholarship programs for at-risk children to tribal college matters.
She said she first started learning about New Mexico culture when she worked with former Sen. Jeff Bingaman’s staff in the late 2000s.
“There’s no question that a community college is where you can make the greatest impact on people’s lives at many points in their life. Whether you are high school students trying to figure out what to do next. … Or an adult who wants to come back and gain some distinct skill or certificate,” she said. “And there’s an intergenerational component (at community colleges) that is incredibly moving to me, and very consistent to my faith background and my commitment to public service.”
Hartzler will take over from President Katharine Winograd, who has led the Albuquerque community college for the past 12 years and is the longest-serving president in CNM’s 54-year history. Hartzler said she hopes to continue Winograd’s tradition with a long tenure as the leader of the school.
Winograd said she is prepared to help “in any way I can as we prepare for this transition. I can’t wait to see what our wonderful students, and talented faculty and staff will achieve in the years ahead during Ms. Hartzler’s presidency.”
Hartzler was selected after a national search that began shortly after Winograd announced in April that she was stepping down from CNM, which has more than 20,000 students.
CNM hired the Pauly Group, a search firm, for nearly $60,000 to help with a national search for candidates. The college also put together an advisory board of Governing Board members, CNM employees, and community members and students.
The Governing Board last week met behind closed doors to consider five finalists, who inclided two candidates who already work at CNM and top officials at other community colleges outside New Mexico.
“I’m glad it’s an internal candidate. That sends a strong message to community,” said board member Michael J. Glennon.
Brad Moore, a spokesman for CNM, said the board will approve the next president’s contract at its December meeting. He said Winograd will likely stay in her role at CNM through the upcoming legislative session.
“We wanted a candidate who is going to follow Kathy and continue the good work that CNM has done, and Tracy fits the bill,” board chair Pauline Garcia said. “One of the most important jobs she currently does is manage our budget, and we just know she is going to do an excellent job in that regard. But she is also very committed to students and very committed to academics. So her financial background was excellent, but her commitment to the rest of the operations at CNM is huge, too.”
In the 2014-15 academic year, CNM ranked No. 1 in the nation for the number of associate degrees and certificates earned by both Hispanics and Native Americans, and it ranked No. 2 for the overall number of associate degrees and certificates awarded. In 2016-17, CNM ranked No. 1 in the nation for the number of associate degrees and certificates awarded to Native Americans, No. 2 for the number of associate degrees and certificates awarded to Hispanics, and No. 3 overall.
In 2013, CNM was awarded the prestigious Student Success Award from the American Association of Community Colleges, which represents more than 1,100 community colleges.
“For this board, her commitment to underserved populations … stood out,” Garcia said. “To us, it said that she is the person who wants to find a way to make a difference for others.”