LCSN: NMSU presidential search: Oblinger says he is a ‘land-grant guy’

November 17, 2009. Retrieved online November 17, 2009 from Amanda L. Husson, Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES – The final presidential search candidate to visit New Mexico State University is a self-described “land-grant guy” who touted his 42 years of experience in land-grant institutions – from his time as a student through his most recent position as chancellor at North Carolina State University.

But Jim Oblinger also spent some time Monday explaining why he is no longer chancellor at that school, having stepped down in June in the wake of a scandal involving the hiring of former North Carolina first lady Mary Easley.

“I decided that I would do the honorable thing,” Oblinger said in a news conference Monday at NMSU. “That I would step down as chancellor at NCSU so that we could move on.

“I did three groundbreakings in a week – great press coverage, but not a single question about the groundbreaking, but all about Mary Easley.”

Easley was hired without a search, Oblinger said, because her network of connections made her uniquely qualified to develop a seminar series that brought speakers including Bill Clinton and Charlie Rose to the campus. After her three-year contract was up, she was signed to a new contract with a significant salary increase – from $90,000 to $170,000 per year – along with additional responsibilities, including the creation of a public safety institute to develop textiles and technology to protect first responders.

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