PORTALES – Eastern New Mexico University has selected James Johnston as its new chancellor and president.
He is scheduled to begin Jan. 3.
Johnston was one of five finalists for ENMU’s top job. He will be the 12th president of the Portales university and the third chancellor for the ENMU system, which includes campuses in Roswell and Ruidoso.
University regents announced Johnston’s selection at a special meeting Tuesday afternoon.
“I am truly honored to join the ENMU family. From the beginning of the search process, I was impressed with the great work by the ENMU System to deliver quality education to the region and beyond, but I also saw great potential,” Johnston said in an ENMU news release. “I cannot wait to add my energy, creativity, and eye for innovation to the team and community to realize that potential.”
Regents President Lance Pyle said Johnston “has the experience, energy, and creativity to move ENMU forward and expand our programs and services to our students and future students.”
Johnston, currently provost and vice president of academic affairs at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, was a first generation college student.
As a result, he said, his values center around “compassion and service,” and his goal as an administrator is to “create access and opportunity for as many students as I can.”
At ENMU, he said, he sees an “opportunity to connect with a community and advance the mission of the university.”
He said even after COVID-19 he sees a strong desire among students to return to the on-campus experience.
In addition, he said, students are looking at advanced certifications or degrees seeking “a mix of upskilling and reskilling for changing careers and changing focus of careers,” which creates opportunities to connect with communities and community colleges.
Johnston said he believes in “shared governance,” in which the university regents, administration, faculty, students and the community have a voice in how things are done on campus.
For example, he said, the community can work with ENMU to create opportunities like internships for students that can be mutually beneficial.
The college can work with community farmers markets to help reduce food insecurity among students.
“Places like this are a great collection of intellect and talent,” Johnston said, “and why shouldn’t we take advantage of that?”