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NMSU Regents end presidential search, saying state law limits qualified candidates

The New Mexico State University Board of Regents ended their search for a new university president during a special meeting today, citing frustration with state law that requires the university to publicly name five finalists. During the meeting, Regents said NMSU is in good shape and in solid hands under the current leadership of Interim President Waded Cruzado.


"Outstanding leaders seldom want their current employer to know they are looking for work, let alone risk competing publicly with a large pool of qualified candidates," said Robert Gallagher, chair of the NMSU Board of Regents. "The important thing is that this university is moving forward. We are under very capable leadership with Dr. Cruzado."

Other regents also praised Cruzado for her leadership during her time as interim president. Cruzado was previously NMSU's executive vice president and provost. Her contract as interim president runs until July 31, 2009.

"I want people of this great university and our wonderful community to know that I am committed and dedicated to serving this institution," Cruzado said after the meeting. "With the board's decision to suspend the presidential search, my team and I will continue to lead this university and to move NMSU forward. I respect their decision and I am honored to serve NMSU in this leadership position. We will continue to work hard with an agenda that places people and excellence at the center of everything we do."

New Mexico state law requires universities to publicly name five finalists for the position of president, and to do so between 21 and 30 days before they plan to fill the position. NMSU had 43 active candidates for president. The search process resulted in a list of eight candidates who were considered for listing as finalists. This group included sitting university presidents and provosts. Each of the potential finalists eventually withdrew themselves from consideration. Several pulled out when they were told they would be publicly named as required by state law. NMSU's 25-member presidential search committee voted unanimously not to go back to the list of remaining candidates.

The presidential search process began with the understanding that whoever served as the interim president would not be a candidate for the position. However, members of the board commented on lifting that restriction in any future search and encouraged Cruzado to consider participation at that time. The board further explained that while it might be possible to consider direct appointment of Cruzado to the permanent post, it would be in the best interest of all to make the selection of the next president as a result of a competitive search process.

No date was given for the creation of a new presidential search. The terms of three Regents, including Gallagher, Steve Anaya and Ed Kellum, expire Jan. 1, 2009. Regents are appointed by New Mexico's governor.