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Search Committee Called Comprehensive

LAS CRUCES — A 15-member committee overseeing the search for New Mexico State University’s next president was assembled with an eye toward representing the school’s various constituencies, said Board of Regents Chair Mike Cheney.

The committee, whose membership was announced Thursday, includes NMSU faculty, alumni, businesspeople, members of the ranching and engineering community.

“Hiring the university president is the most important priority for our board and I’m pleased that we have been able to put together such a comprehensive committee that includes individuals from as many of NMSU’s constituency groups as possible,” Cheney said in a prepared statement.

The Board of Regents plans to select a permanent president by May, Cheney said.

Former president Barbara Couture announced her resignation after three years in Las Cruces on Oct. 1. While the reasons for her departure have not been fully disclosed, the regents said her separation was mutually agreeable.

Cheney said he plans to decide by early January whether to hire an executive search firm to aid the committee in locating qualified candidates for the job. Cheney said he is exploring sources of private funding to pay for a consultant.

NMSU’s last two presidential searches, launched by the departure of Michael Martin in July 2008, were rocky. An initial search was canceled after finalists reportedly withdrew because they believed an interim president had the inside track.

The second search, which led to Couture’s hiring, produced two other finalists who had resigned from their previous university jobs under clouds of controversy.

The presidential search committee announced Thursday will be led by NMSU alumnus Larry Lujan, an Albuquerque resident and president and CEO of the Manuel Lujan Agencies.

Other members are: Festus Addo-Yobo, director of NMSU’s Black Programs; Felicia Casados, president of NMSU’s branch campus in Grants; Ramon Dominguez, associate professor of educational management and development at NMSU; Paul Gutierrez, executive director of the Santa Fe-based New Mexico Association of Counties; Debra Hicks, president and principal engineer of Pettigrew and Associates in Hobbs; Jerean Hutchinson, co-owner of La Posta de Mesilla restaurant; Judy Johnson, a retired certified public accountant from Nambé; Tim Ketelaar, associate professor of psychology and chairman of the NMSU Faculty Senate; Michael Morehead, dean of NMSU’s College of Education; Stan Rounds, superintendent of Las Cruces Public Schools; Scott Schafer, a Carrizozo rancher and retired banker; Steven Stochaj, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at NMSU; Associated Students of NMSU President Breeana Sylvas; and Lt. Col. Andrew Taylor, commander of NMSU’s Army ROTC.
— This article appeared on page C2 of the Albuquerque Journal