The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Jeff Elwell named ENMU president


April 13, 2017

Jeff Elwell

PORTALES — Jeff Elwell of Tennessee was named the new president of Eastern New Mexico University on Wednesday afternoon after several days of closed Board of Regents sessions and visits from the four final candidates.

Elwell visited all three ENMU campuses last week, along with the other three finalists: Charles Crespy of Michigan, John Fritch of Iowa and Neal Weaver of Louisiana.

The university will pay Elwell a $230,000 annual salary with a three-year contract in place.

ENMU Regent Terry Othick, chair of the search committee, said regents received and considered over 200 comments from students, faculty and community members regarding thoughts on the final candidates.

Regents named Elwell by unanimous vote.

"The board would not have gotten through this very long and vigorous task without the strong support of Dr. (Steven) Gamble's entire team," Othick said during a brief board of regents meeting Wednesday.

He said the 15-member search committee reviewed over 75 resumes and selected 19 applicants during meetings on March 9 and 10 to refer to regents.

"We did have four very good candidates and, more than that, I was amazed at the pool of candidates that we did have," said Regent Jane Christensen after the Wednesday meeting. "Dr. Elwell had a very good attitude; he's vibrant, and he seems to understand our mission, and we felt that he would be the best candidate at this time. It was very difficult (to make a decision), because they were all so good."

Elwell has been dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga since 2012. Prior, he was provost and special assistant to the chancellor for strategic initiatives at Auburn University from 2010 to 2012. From 2004 to 2010, Elwell was founding dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication at East Carolina University.

He holds a Ph.D. in speech communication/theater from Southern Illinois University, a master's degree in communications/theater from the University of Southwestern Louisiana and a bachelor's in English from California State University-Bakersfield.

"I'm thrilled and excited beyond belief," Elwell said via phone conference at the meeting. "I look forward to leading Eastern New Mexico University and all campuses into the next decade, and I want to especially thank everyone who was involved in the on-campus and off-campus process — their hospitality, their warmth, their charm ... I'm looking forward to this next, exciting phase of my life."

Elwell will begin working on campus as of July 1, while current President Steven Gamble's last day with the university will be Aug. 1.

"I think he's the right man for the job," Gamble said of Elwell. "I was impressed with him."


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