LC Bulletin: NMSU chancellor: Leadership is all about picking the right team

June 3, 2016. Retrieved online June 6, 2016 from Mike Cook, Las Cruces Bulletin

[Excerpts below reprinted with permission: Read the complete Las Cruces Bulletin article]

After more than 50 years of service in higher education, government, politics and business, and now as chancellor of New Mexico State University, Garrey Carruthers continues to apply the same life lessons he learned growing up on a farm near Aztec, New Mexico: be honest, work hard, treat other people well and get a good education.

And, Carruthers said, whether it’s at the state or federal level, running a successful HMO or serving as dean of the Business College or chancellor of the NMSU system and president of its Las Cruces campus, “management is not that big of a challenge.” You have to follow a set of principles, you need some structure and “you have to get the right people on the team and you have to put them in the right seat,” he said, paraphrasing author Jim Collins in his book “Good to Great.”

Carruthers, who turns 77 on August 29, arrives at his office in Hadley Hall at the top of the NMSU horseshoe between 6 and 6:10 each morning. Provost Dan Howard arrives at the office next door even earlier. “He makes the coffee,” Carruthers said.

“I love to do this,” Carruthers said of his job as chancellor. “I love the students, the faculty, the staff.” NMSU students, he finds, “like to listen to old, white-haired guys. I really enjoy the environment and I enjoy the people.”

Carruthers served as Interior Department undersecretary from 1981 to 1984. He was elected New Mexico’s 27th governor in 1986 and served a single four-year term (governors could not succeed themselves in those days). He was president and CEO of Cimarron Health Plan from 1993 to 2003 when he became dean of the NMSU College of Business.

About to retire from that position nearly a decade later, Carruthers was encouraged to apply for the NMSU presidency after the board of regents “excused” former NMSU President Barbara Couture in October 2012. Carruthers “started looking at the criteria” and realized “I can do that,” so he applied for the position. The hardest part, he said, was convincing Kathy, his wife of 55 years, that he should take the job.

Of my three professions (business: 13 years, government: 10 to 12 years, higher education: 23 years), “I enjoy this the most by far and away,” he said. Carruthers has been on and off the NMSU campus as a student, professor and administrator since 1957.

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