ENMU board discusses presidential searches


June 28, 2020

PORTALES — Eastern New Mexico University’s board of regents on Friday discussed a pair of presidential searches, one underway and one needing to start soon.

Regent Dan Patterson discussed the need to start the process to replace Jeff Elwell, who resigned as ENMU system chancellor and Portales campus president in April. While Patterson said he has trust in Interim Chancellor Patrice Caldwell, he believes the regents have an inherent duty to keep her time in the position limited.

Caldwell is not interested in applying for the position, and held off retirement for the interim post.

Expedience is key, Patterson said, since the terms of Terry Othick, Joseph Gergel and Ed Tatum expire in 2021. Losing them, Patterson said, means losing experience that would help in a presidential search.

Othick, who led the search that resulted in Elwell’s hiring, said regents will have the delicate balance of working quickly because other colleges have vacancies to fill, while taking enough time to involve students and employees.

“While it’s (a regents) decision at the end who to select, it’s so important to get wide-based input,” Othick said. “This person gets so involved with all of these stakeholders.”

Regent Lance Pyle agreed with Patterson that having the current board would be the wise way to start the process, but he believes the process should be finished out by the new regents because they’re the ones who will have to work with the new chancellor.

The regents were also updated on the presidential search for the Ruidoso branch, which has reached the finalist stage after receiving 51 applications. The five finalists are Daniel Barwick of Iowa, Brett Campbell of Oklahoma, Ted Lewis of West Virginia, Joey Fronheiser of Oklahoma and ENMU-Ruidoso Vice President of Student Learning and Success Ryan Trosper.

Ruidoso board member Marla Romero said the candidates would begin in-person interviews this week, and regents would be provided with links to participate via web conference.

In other business at the Friday meeting:

• Vice President of Business Affairs Scott Smart told regents there may be a chance the university could keep the capital outlay that was swept away under Senate Bill 5.

The $650,000 capital outlay awarded in 2019 is intended for either construction of a new presidential residence or renovation of the current house at 1600 W. Cherry St. The house is currently vacant. Caldwell has no particular desire to live there given her interim status, but said the facility will have events when public health orders allow it.

Smart said while such language wasn’t outlined in SB5, which Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed Friday, he’s heard from state officials that money won’t be swept away if 5% or more can be expended within 90 days. If that is the case, Smart said the university passed the 5% mark long ago, with $42,000 of the award spent so far, and another $53,000 scheduled to be encumbered.

• Roswell branch President Shawn Powell said a Higher Learning Commission campus visit is scheduled for Sept. 21. He noted the school has canceled its dining contract to find more cost-effective services and is preparing all classes as hybrid classes in case face-to-face instruction is wiped out by public health orders.

• Ruidoso branch President Ryan Karstens said the school’s summer enrollment was up 4% over last year. The summer sessions in previous years were largely online classes, so this summer term isn’t much different.

“Our head count is down,” Karstens said, “but they’re enrolling in more courses.”

The fall enrollment is down so far, but Karstens said the two-year school doesn’t do spring enrollment pushes and normally sees most of its signups in July and August.

• Regents approved a plan by the ENMU rodeo team to construct a 12,500 square foot metal building at Lewis Cooper Arena that would be a hospitality and concession area with covered handicapped parking.

The project is privately funded, and would be the first phase in what coach Albert Flinn hopes is a 128,000 square foot enclosed building.

“We have the initiative and we think if we get this first phase built,” Flinn said, “it will show everyone we’re serious about this project.”

Regents were hesitant, and weren’t sure it was realistic to get the building finished before its College Daze Rodeo starts Sept. 10. Smart said the schedule was undoubtedly aggressive, but noted Higher Education Department approval could be quick because it is a basic metal building that will be built as a sole-source project and donated to the program.

Patterson moved to approve the building, provided all university and state policies are followed and the construction comes at no cost to the school.


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