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NM Tech has pool of 35 candidates for president

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology is closer to finding its next president as the school’s search committee narrows a pool of about 35 candidates.

LOPEZ: New Mexico Tech's longest-serving president

LOPEZ: New Mexico Tech’s longest-serving president

Current President Dan Lopez announced his pending retirement in early 2015, launching the search for the school’s 16th president in its 126 years.

Lopez, 70, served as president of the small college, commonly referred to as New Mexico Tech or Tech, for the past 23 years and is the longest-serving president in the school’s history. His salary is $333,807.

Thomas Guengerich, the school’s spokesman, said Lopez will retire June 30.

Lopez, a native of Puerto de Luna, is a graduate of the University of New Mexico. He served as secretary of the state Employment Security Department and later as the secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration.

He was considered as one of the five final candidates to lead UNM in 2007. The job eventually went to David Schmidly.

The advertisement for Lopez’s position says the school prefers candidates who have a strong academic background, but that is not a requirement.

Regents hired consulting company Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates of Whittier, Calif., for $107,000 to help find the next president, according to Guengerich and the school’s website.

He said the search committee, headed up by regents Jerry Armijo and Donald Monette, is doing interviews this month through January.

“Finalists will be presented to the board in the regularly scheduled meeting in February or a special meeting called before then,” Guengerich said.

That meeting likely would be in late January.

Some faculty at the school in recent years have reported low morale as the university’s budget, like all public schools in the state, has shrunk. But enrollment has increased in the same time, with the school’s most recent student body count coming in at 2,127.

The school, in Socorro, was ranked the second-best value college by USA TODAY in 2014.