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NMSU graduate confirmed as U.S. Deputy Secretary of Interior Department

New Mexico State University graduate Michael L. Connor was confirmed by the U.S. Senate Feb. 27 as the Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior.

Man?s studio head shot
Michael L. Connor, a New Mexico State University graduate, has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as the Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior. (Courtesy photo from U.S. Bureau of Reclamation)

?The Senate?s vote to confirm me as President Obama?s selection to serve as Deputy Secretary of the Interior is a distinct honor,? Connor said. ?In this new role -- as the Chief Operating Officer of Interior and its more than 70,000 employees -- I will have the privilege to serve alongside Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, who has established a national reputation as a strong leader with a clear vision for the future of the department. DOI?s mission reaches into every corner of the nation as well as the people of New Mexico. I am humbled and excited by this new opportunity.?

?We?re excited to have a New Mexico State University graduate rise to such a high level in the federal government,? said NMSU President Garrey Carruthers, who himself once served as an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Interior. ?We are certain he will do an outstanding job in this position and make Aggies everywhere proud.?

For the past four years, Connor has been the Commissioner of Interior?s Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees the nation?s largest water wholesaler and second largest provider of hydroelectric power in the West, which consists of 58 power plants including the Hoover and Grand Coulee Dams.

In his new role, Connor will be the second highest-ranking official in the department. He has statutory obligations as the chief operation officer to help guide the Interior that has more than 70,000 employees and a yearly budget of about $12 billion. He will continue to serve as reclamation commissioner.

Connor was the counsel to the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and senior advisor to chairman Sen. Jeff Bingaman on issues involving energy development, land and water management and tribal nations from 2001 to 2009. Connor also worked at the Interior from 1993 to 2001, in the solicitor?s office and then as director of the Secretary?s Indian Water Rights Office.

He earned a bachelor?s degree in chemical engineering from NMSU and a law degree from the University of Colorado Law School. Connor is a native New Mexican.