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Carmen Gonzales to retire as vice president of NMSU's Division of Student Success

Carmen Gonzales is retiring as the vice president of Student Success at New Mexico State University, but she does not plan to stop working, and she is excited to look for opportunities to continue to support distance education and learning technologies across the state - passions of hers for years.

Carmen Gonzales is retiring as the vice president of Student Success at New Mexico State University. (NMSU photo by Phillip Johnson)

"I've always been interested in learning technologies and how you integrate that into teaching and learning," Gonzales said. "I'm not ready to fully retire and want to pursue other opportunities in this area."

Gonzales began her career in higher education at NMSU in 1995 after earning a doctorate in learning technologies from the University of New Mexico. Gonzales wrote her dissertation on telecommunications and online communication between northern New Mexico and Hispanic communities. She came to NMSU to work in the College of Education in the department of Curriculum and Instruction in the Learning Technologies program.

Besides being drawn to work at NMSU because of the education programs she was going to be able to help develop, Gonzales had a family connection to the university; her father, Albert Gonzales, became the first blind student to graduate from NMSU. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in English and went on to be the first blind student to graduate from Georgetown University, in Washington, D.C. He later served on the Board of Regents for NMSU.

Gonzales has also served in the role of vice provost for Distance Education and the College of Extended Learning, where she led the effort to develop a new interdisciplinary program, the Creative Media Institute for Film and Digital Media, and promoted classroom and technological innovation in support of lifelong learning for a diverse audience. In her role as the vice provost, she led the effort to increase distance education from four programs to 44 programs.

Gonzales has a distinguished history of scholarly activity that includes national and international presentations, and significant contributions to literature on the use of educational technology and professional development. During her tenure at NMSU, she brought in more than $30 million in state, federal and private foundation funding. Her educational career spans 30 years and includes schools in New Mexico, Hawaii and Honduras.

Gonzales, whose last day at NMSU is Dec. 10, plans to return to Santa Fe, where many of her family and friends live, and spend the holidays with them before beginning work as a legislative analyst for the 60-day session starting mid-January. Then, she will pursue opportunities in areas of consultation and grant writing that will keep her closely working in the area of distance education.

"There is just so much potential for distance education," she said. "In the future, it is going to be integrated in everything. I see more blended learning where students may not go to class every week, but meet sometimes online. This is really how the real world works and students need to adopt this form of communication to be successful in their studies."

Gonzales is grateful to the many people who have supported her during her time at NMSU, especially Robert Moulton, former dean of the College of Education, and Bill Flores, former provost, for giving her the opportunity to work in the field of administration in a time when few Hispanic women were hired for such positions.

"I have had a really great experience here and support from many people," Gonzales said. "The people and students who I work with are the most memorable part of my time here. There is an incredible group of people who work at New Mexico State and I think leaving them is the hardest part of my retirement."

Bernadette Montoya, associate vice president for enrollment management in NMSU's Division of Student Success, has accepted an invitation from Executive Vice President and Provost Wendy K. Wilkins to take on the role of interim vice president of Student Success.

"We wish to thank Dr. Carmen Gonzales for her many years of service to New Mexico State University and wish her well as she enters the next stage of her career," Wilkins said. "We are pleased that Dr. Bernadette Montoya is willing to bring her knowledge and expertise to the interim position, thus ensuring a seamless transition in service to our students from within the Division of Student Success."

Montoya oversees University Admissions, the University Registrar's Office, and the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, Business Support Systems, Student Information Management, and Enrollment Services at the Albuquerque Center. "I am very honored to be asked to fill Carmen's shoes as the interim vice president of Student Success," Montoya said. "Carmen has done such a great job leading the division. I have personally worked with her for almost four years and feel very privileged to take on this role."

Montoya said her more than 20 years of teaching and higher education experience will help her as she eases into her new responsibilities. Montoya started her career teaching in public schools before serving in various roles at New Mexico State University Grants, the Doņa Ana Community College campuses and the NMSU campus in Las Cruces.

"I believe I am well-informed and ready to take on and continue the work Carmen has done until someone is named permanently to this position," Montoya said. "My goal is to keep the division intact and continue projects and activities already in place. I plan to maintain a steady and positive leadership for all the staff and students involved in the Division of Student Success. We have an excellent staff in place, both with Student Success and Enrollment Management, and I know everyone will come together to make this transition a success."

Montoya will start her new role as interim vice president of Student Success Jan. 4.