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NMSU provost appointed to state higher education position

William V. Flores, executive vice president and provost at New Mexico State University, has been appointed deputy secretary of higher education for the state of New Mexico.

William V. Flores, executive vice president and provost at New Mexico State University, has been named deputy secretary of higher education for the state of New Mexico. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Gov. Bill Richardson announced the appointment at NMSU Friday, April 6, during a signing ceremony for two pieces of higher education legislation.

"I have been trying to steal him for four years," Richardson said of Flores. "He's one of the great educators not just in New Mexico but around the country, and I'm very proud that finally, Bill Flores, the provost at New Mexico State, is going to work in the Richardson administration as deputy secretary of higher education."

The appointment is effective May 1, although there is expected to be some overlapping of responsibilities during a transition period.

The governor said Flores "is going to handle academic affairs, training, research - it's a tailor-made job for him."

Flores said NMSU "is like a second home to me and always will be a home for me, but I look forward to working on policy, legislation and helping to make our education system, which is already fabulous, an even better one."

NMSU President Michael Martin called Flores "a wonderful colleague and a great partner."

"I can't tell you how pleased I am to have someone who understands research universities and what they can do for the state in the Department of Higher Education," Martin said. "The four-year presidents were very adamant that we get someone who could understand mission differentiation while advancing the entire agenda."

Flores joined NMSU in August 2001 as provost and chief academic officer. He served as provost and interim president from July 2003 to July 2004 and then became executive vice president and provost. Before coming to NMSU he was dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Cal State Northridge. A native of California, he earned his Ph.D. in social theory and public policy at Stanford University.

Richardson visited NMSU to sign two bills important to higher education in New Mexico and to celebrate the passage of a local tax to help support the development of a spaceport in southern New Mexico.

One piece of legislation adds $12 million to the faculty endowment fund for New Mexico's public colleges and universities, to be matched by the institutions dollar-for-dollar with private contributions. The other allows for the development of university research parks to support economic development efforts.

Garrey Carruthers, the university's dean of business and vice provost for economic development, said the endowment "will allow us to recruit and retain some of the finest faculty in the world."

The research park act "lets us be entrepreneurial as a university," Carruthers said. The university is planning to develop 200 acres with the aim of attracting high-tech industries "to come to the research park, hire our students and work with our faculty," he said.

In celebrating the spaceport vote, Richardson said the benefits of Spaceport America will include economic development and educational advances. "It's for children, it's for education, it's for 4,000 new jobs, it's for more kids learning math and science," he said. "It's for this great university, New Mexico State, to become a laboratory for aerospace engineering."