Finalists announced for the presidency at New Mexico State University

October 28, 2009 by Julie M. Hughes NMSU NewsCenter

Del Archuleta, search advisory committee chair, delivered the names of five finalists for the presidency of New Mexico State University to the Board of Regents at a special meeting today.

The finalists are:

  • Barbara Couture, D.A., Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Professor of English, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
  • Richard Herman, Ph.D., Special Assistant to the President, Professor, recently Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
  • James Oblinger, Ph.D., Professor, recently Chancellor, North Carolina State University.
  • Michael Ortiz, Ph.D., President, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
  • Lisa Rossbacher, Ph.D., President, Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Ga.

“On behalf of our search committee I am proud to present the recommended finalists to our regents, the NMSU community and the State of New Mexico. We offer these candidates for further consideration for the next president of our great institution,” Archuleta said. “I am proud of the hard work put forth by our search committee and search consultants in attracting, interviewing, researching and narrowing a strong pool of candidates to this distinguished list of five finalists. I challenged our committee with the task of presenting the five most qualified candidates who they felt were the best fit for NMSU. I believe the committee has successfully accomplished that goal.”

During the search, the committee and the search firm, Greenwood/Asher and Associates Inc., made more than 420 contacts, reviewed detailed information on about 60 individuals and interviewed 18 candidates.

Archuleta said NMSU should be proud of the outstanding pool of candidates from top-ranked universities who expressed an interest in the university.

“The diversity of the pool of candidates for this position was excellent because of the extensive outreach,” Archuleta said. “Narrowing the pool has been challenging for the search committee because there were so many excellent candidates. These five were chosen for their executive-level experience at large, complex universities and their exceptional accomplishments in higher education.”

Candidates in the overall pool and their career cumulative experiences included: 26 land-grant universities, nine with membership in the Association of American Universities, 36 research universities, 11 president/chancellor positions, 38 provost/vice president positions, and 47 dean experiences. Forty percent of the applicant pool was either women and/or minority.

“We are proud of the diverse mix of the finalists with regard to gender, race, and educational background and leadership experience,” Archuleta said. “We believe such diversity will allow the regents to find the best overall match to lead our university.”

Archuleta said the search committee conducted extensive research and reference checks on the candidates. In each case the committee found that all questions were answered to their satisfaction.

“It is our belief that each finalist has a strong record of positive accomplishments and should advance to the next stage,” he said. “Through the interview process we fully expect that the community will question the candidates and research their backgrounds. We are confident that the discussions will be open and candid. This process will serve to identify the best leader for NMSU.”

Regents Chair Blake Curtis recognized the search advisory committee for its service to the university.

“On behalf of the board, I want to thank our search committee and consultants for their commitment and efforts to recruit candidates with extensive leadership experiences and substantial accomplishments. These university and community leaders are recognized for having the highest level of integrity and I know they have worked tirelessly and collaboratively on behalf of our great university.”

The search advisory committee included Archuleta, CEO of Molzen-Corbin and Associates; Garrey Carruthers, dean, NMSU College of Business, and vice president for economic development; Felicia Casados, president, NMSU Grants; Dolores Connor, Las Cruces city councilor; Travis Dulany, ASNMSU president; Chris Erickson, NMSU Faculty Senate chair; Paul Gutierrez, executive director of the New Mexico Association of Counties; Coach Lou Henson; Bruce Hinrichs, NMSU Cooperative Extension Service eastern district director; Michael Johnson, president Johnson Performance; Delano Lewis, NMSU senior fellow and director of the International Relations Institute; Tim Nesbitt, assistant dean and director, NMSU College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences; and Elba Serrano, biology professor, NMSU College of Arts and Sciences.

The finalists will be on campus throughout the month of November, with a final decision expected Nov. 19. Detailed schedules for the candidate interviews will be available soon.

Additional information on the finalists is available on the presidential search Web site at

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