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Search for new UNM president slowed down

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The search for University of New Mexico’s next president will take longer than expected.

An announcement of the school’s 22nd president – originally expected by this spring – will not happen until at least this fall as the committee charged with evaluating candidates and picking semifinalists decided Tuesday to “slow down the process.”

Rob Doughty

Rob Doughty

The search now will extend into the 2017-18 school year, according to a statement issued Tuesday by Rob Doughty, president of UNM’s Board of Regents and chair of the presidential search committee.

He described the original search timeline as “ambitious” and said extending the process into the next school year will allow for further candidate review, and opportunity for more student and faculty involvement. The current semester is scheduled to end in mid-May, leaving little time to pick finalists and get them on campus for the customary open forums. Rather than try it during the summer, when the campus community is far smaller, Doughty said the committee opted to hold off until the next school year.

UNM’s presidential search officially commenced last October, shortly after former UNM president Bob Frank announced he would not pursue a second term after his contract’s scheduled expiration on May 31, 2017. Frank, however stepped down in December amid a dispute with the regents. Chaouki Abdallah, who had been provost and executive vice president of academic affairs, has served as acting president since January.

An aerial look at the UNM campus. COURTESY UNM

An aerial look at the UNM campus. (Courtesy UNM)

Doughty said in October the goal was to name a president by early spring and have him or her working on campus by June.

In an update earlier this month, Doughty indicated the regents could announce the finalists and have them on campus for interviews by the end of the current semester.

But the committee determined this week more time was needed.

“The Presidential Search Committee knew that our initial search schedule was ambitious and would closely coincide with the end of the semester,” Doughty said in a statement to the UNM community. “We are excited about our work thus far and the current pool of candidates, and feel this approach gives us the best chance of achieving a successful outcome.”

In an interview with the Journal, Doughty said he was pleased with the current candidate pool, but noted that the longer approach might yield additional applicants. He declined to say how many people had expressed interest thus far, citing confidentiality.

Doughty said the search committee made the decision to lengthen the search at the recommendation of Isaacson, Miller, a private search firm UNM hired to aid in the process. UNM is paying the firm $111,000 in fees and expenses, but Doughty said the extension will not raise the price.

About 20 people sit on the advisory search committee, including Doughty, and fellow regents Thomas Clifford and Marron Lee, plus legislators, business people and members of the UNM community.

That group will recommend at least eight semifinalists. The board of regents picks finalists and decides who ultimately gets the job.

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