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Editorial: New CNM president brings experience to biggest college in NM

The next president of Central New Mexico Community College has her work cut out for her. Fortunately, Tracy Hartzler – recently announced as replacement for outgoing president Katharine Winograd – is no novice to the inner workings of the sprawling community college system.

Tracy Hartzler

As Journal reporter Ryan Boetel wrote Nov. 13, Hartzler currently works under Winograd as CNM’s vice president for finance and operations. Her professional experiences have been wide and varied. Considering the size of the job she’s about to step into, that’s a good thing.

Hartzler is highly educated, a member of the bar in New Mexico and Washington, D.C., and an experienced budget manager. The time she spent working on higher education funding formulas for the Lottery Scholarship Program as a N.M. Legislative Finance Committee staffer will be invaluable as she approaches CNM’s upcoming challenge: preparing for rubber to hit the road on the governor’s plan to offer free tuition to qualified New Mexicans.

In addition to the rest of her impressive resume, Hartzler’s time working at CNM means she has first-hand experience seeing what the job of president can look like done right.

During her 12 years as president, Winograd fully embraced the unique and vital role CNM plays in our state. It’s a college that truly tries to serve everybody – dual-credit high school students; high school grads not quite ready for the rigors of university, not quite sure of their path forward; aspiring trade workers; adults pursuing a higher education but balancing that with jobs and families.

Winograd brought some much-needed flexibility by making it easier for students to transfer credits among CNM, Albuquerque Public Schools and the University of New Mexico. She prioritized career readiness above all, and in the 2014-15 school year CNM awarded more degrees and certificates to both Hispanic and Native American students than any other community college in the country.

In other words, Hartzler – who is expected to officially take the baton from Winograd sometime next year – has some big shoes to fill. The CNM Governing Board should be thanked for making what appears to be a thoughtful, internal hire. And Hartzler deserves not just our congratulations, but a sincere wish of best luck. Her new job won’t be easy, but she can do CNM’s mission proud both through her own considerable talents and by recognizing and maintaining the best of what Winograd cultivated.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.