NMSU re­gents vote to re­place Car­ruthers

Board acts de­spite wide­spread sup­port for cur­rent leader


LAS CRUCES — The New Mex­ico State Univer­sity Board of Re­gents voted Wed­nes­day to move for­ward with the search to re­place Chan­cel­lor Gar­rey Car­ruthers de­spite wide­spread sup­port from univer­sity fac­ulty, staff, stu­dents and state law­mak­ers.

Car­ruthers, 78, said ear­lier he would be will­ing to stay on another two years. In an in­ter­view after the meet­ing, he said he was thank­ful for the show of sup­port.

“I could have re­tired a long time ago,” he said. “I love this place. I love the stu­dents. I re­ally, re­ally en­joy this job.”

Four of the five re­gents voted in fa­vor of search­ing for a new chan­cel­lor with Margie Vela ab­stain­ing.

“I be­lieve we have an op­por­tu­nity to build on a strong foun­da­tion,” said Re­gent Mike Cheney, who sup­ported re­plac­ing Car­ruthers.

Half a dozen speak­ers at the meet­ing told re­gents the sta­bil­ity the chan­cel­lor brought to the univer­sity was crit­i­cal dur­ing tu­mul­tuous times and fund­ing cuts for higher ed­u­ca­tion.

Larry Allen, a mem­ber of the NMSU Foun­da­tion, said Car­ruthers was key to fundrais­ing ef­forts at NMSU, in­clud­ing the $125 mil­lion “Ig­nite Ag­gie Dis­cov­ery” cam­paign.

“He is one of the few peo­ple in the coun­try that can knock on any door of any ex­ec­u­tive and be ad­mit­ted,” he said.

Allen read a let­ter from the NMSU Foun­da­tion’s ex­ec­u­tive board urg­ing the re­gents to ex­tend Car­ruthers’ con­tract for an ad­di­tional two years. His cur­rent con­tract ends next spring.

Wil­liam Jones, a stu­dent se­na­tor, told re­gents that stu­dent lead­ers are con­cerned about the num­ber of pres­i­dents in re­cent years, five in the past decade.

“I think we should hang on to Gar­rey Car­ruthers as long as pos­si­ble,” he said.

But the re­gents re­jected Car­ruthers’ of­fer to stay two more years.

“The board has ex­pressed on­go­ing con­cern about sig­nif­i­cant en­roll­ment lost,” said Re­gents Chair­woman De­bra Hicks, not­ing en­roll­ment is down 27 per­cent, three times as much as at the Univer­sity of New Mex­ico.

Car­ruthers, who has served as chan­cel­lor since 2013, an­nounced he planned to re­tire July 2018, trig­ger­ing the search for a re­place­ment. The chan­cel­lor said he made the de­ci­sion after re­gents told him they would not ex­tend his con­tract, which ex­pires next spring.

But he also said he would “wel­come the op­por­tu­nity to serve another two years.” A bi­par­ti­san group of state law­mak­ers was among those who sup­ported the idea.

“If you ever wanted a vote of con­fi­dence, I got it,” Car­ruthers said. “I got it from a whole lot of peo­ple and so I’m walk­ing away feel­ing very good about what we were able to ac­com­plish at this univer­sity and will con­tinue to ac­com­plish once we find out what the next per­son wants to do.”

Some crit­ics have ques­tioned whether the de­ci­sion not to ex­tend Car­ruthers’ con­tract was based on pol­i­tics rather than job per­for­mance.

Peter Good­win, a NMSU alum and community ra­dio host who spoke in fa­vor of keep­ing Car­ruthers, asked re­gents if there was a “plan to put some­body else, another gov­er­nor, in his place?”

“Noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth, that there’s any po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ven­tion in the process,” said Re­gent Kari Mitchell, who also voted against keep­ing Car­ruthers on for another two years.

“I don’t know her (Gov. Su­sana Martinez’s) back­ground in its en­tirety, but I can’t fore­see or fathom a sce­nario where she would even meet the qual­i­fi­ca­tions, and she her­self has been on record say­ing she’s not go­ing to do it, so I don’t un­der­stand where this stuff comes from,” Mitchell said.

Martinez has said she is not in­ter­ested in ap­ply­ing for the po­si­tion.

Jerean Camúñez Hutchin­son was the fourth re­gent who voted against ex­tend­ing Car­ruthers’ con­tract.

Gar­rey Car­ruthers

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