LAS CRUCES — The five finalists announced Tuesday for the position of president of New Mexico State University include three former university presidents and two current deans, one of whom is former Gov. Garrey Carruthers.
“We’ve only had a preliminary opportunity to review the qualifications, and they look like outstanding … candidates at this time,” said regents Chair Mike Cheney following a special meeting of the board to accept the five finalists recommended by a presidential search committee. “It looks like different people bringing different strengths to the table, and so we look forward to getting to know them in the coming weeks.”
Cheney said the regents hope to announce the new permanent president by the board’s next meeting on May 10, following a round of interviews and meetings with university stakeholders that will begin April 21. The search was launched following the Oct. 1 resignation of former president Barbara Couture in what Cheney then called a “mutually agreeable” separation.
Besides Carruthers, the other finalists are:
♦ David B. Ashley, professor of engineering and former president of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.
♦ Guy Bailey, professor of English and former president of the University of Alabama and Texas Tech University.
♦ Daniel Howard, dean of the University of Colorado at Denver’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
♦ Elsa A. Murano, former president of Texas A&M University and currently interim director of the Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture there.
Carruthers, the 73-year-old former Republican governor of New Mexico from 1987 to 1991, currently heads NMSU’s College of Business and also holds the title of vice president for economic development.
Howard, the other dean listed as a finalist, also has ties to NMSU. Howard was a biology professor at NMSU starting in 1988 and was interim associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences before taking a job in Colorado in 2008.
Starting with Carruthers on April 21 and ending May 2, the five finalists will each go through a two-day series of meetings with various NMSU stakeholder groups, such as community college presidents, faculty and staff leadership, student government, the media and the public at large.
“We focused on excellence throughout,” said Larry Lujan, chairman of the presidential search committee, which presented regents with five recommended finalists during a closed-door meeting early Tuesday. “We wanted to deliver a list of finalists that would make the regents selection difficult because any one of them will be a great president for our university.”
Lujan said the search committee, aided by consulting firm AGB Search, an affiliate of the Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities, reviewed information on 57 candidates and interviewed 11.
Some of the finalists have endured choppy patches in their careers recently.
After 18 months on the job, Murano resigned as president of Texas A&M after the university system released a critical review of her performance in her first full year, The Associated Press reported.
Murano, who was a finalist for the University of New Mexico presidency in 2011, previously told the Journal that she resigned because regents with political interests pressured her to limit academic freedoms.
Murano served as undersecretary for food safety in the USDA under President George W. Bush, and became the first female and first Hispanic president of Texas A&M in 2008.
Bailey was president of Texas Tech University from 2008 to 2012, and left to become president of the University of Alabama. He resigned last October after 58 days on the job, citing concerns about his wife’s health. The Associated Press reported that Bailey said he resigned because his wife, who had battled cancer in the past, would pressure herself to meet the social obligations of a university president’s wife.
Ashley, who is currently an engineering professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, was stripped of his title as president in 2009 after three years amid criticism by the system chancellor of Ashley’s management and of his wife’s treatment of university employees.
Couture, who arrived in Las Cruces from a senior vice chancellor position with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, resigned in October after less than three years for reasons that regents have never publicly explained. Her departure was controversial in part because she was kept on the payroll through the end of 2012, even though she was said to have taken a position with a Washington, D.C. organization, and then Couture was provided a lump sum payment of more than $450,000.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal