NMSU to announce decision on Ortiz Thursday

By Justin Velasco

The success of President Michael Ortiz’s run for the presidency
of New Mexico State University will be known on Thursday when the
Board of Regents announces their selection.

The special meeting will conclude NMSU’s presidential search,
which has been hampered by numerous delays and controversies over
the past 16 months.

The latest development was the withdrawal last week of Richard
Herman, former chancellor of the University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign from the search. Herman, who resigned his post at
the University of Illinois last month over an admissions scandal,
said other obligations prevented him from continuing with his
candidacy.

Herman’s withdrawal leaves Ortiz with only three competitors for
the presidency.

James Oblinger, former chancellor of North Carolina State
University, will wrap up his visit to the NMSU campus today.
Oblinger, like Herman, has been a controversial finalist.

He resigned from his position at NCSU in June due to his
involvement in a hiring scandal.

Ortiz is also facing competition from Barbara Couture, Senior
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Professor of English at
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Lisa Rossbacher, President of
Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, GA.

Rossbacher served as Associate Vice President for Academic
Affairs at Cal Poly from 1987 to 1993.

Ortiz finished his visit to NMSU last Tuesday. While there, he
took part in a series of forums for students, staff and
faculty.

Among the subjects discussed were Ortiz’s commitment to
minorities on campus, transparency in administration, his skills as
a fundraiser, and how long he would plan to stay with NMSU. In a
Webcast of the faculty forum, Ortiz said if he were selected for
the presidency, he would stay for the long haul.

“If any of you are wondering if I’m using this institution as a
stepping stone to another institution, you can rule that out,” he
said. “I would consider this to be my final position as
president.”

The search for NMSU’s next president began in August 2008 when
former President Michael Martin left NMSU to become the Chancellor
of Louisiana State University.

After spending $90,000, the previous board of regents scrapped
the search process in November 2008, saying a state law requiring
them to name five finalists hindered their efforts. New Mexico
Gov. Bill Richardson replaced three members of the board the
following week.

Executive Vice President and Provost Waded Cruzado took the helm
at NMSU as interim president in August 2008 and proved to be
especially popular with students and faculty.

At one point, students organized a movement that called for
Cruzado to be named as the permanent president.

However, the current Board of Regents disagreed and in May
announced that Cruzado would be returning to her previous
position.

The decision angered three top-ranking members of the New Mexico
State Senate who believed it was the result of political meddling
in the process and openly discussed holding a vote of no-confidence
in the Board.

“Quite frankly, I am fed up with this administration,” said John
Smith, Senate Finance Committee Chairman. “Even though they deny
the fact that they get involved, our higher education system,
everywhere you turn, has the indication of the executive branch
micromanaging.”

Last month, Cruzado announced that she would be leaving NMSU to
become the next president of Montana State University.

Stay with thepolypost.com this Thursday for the
results of the announcement.

Reach Justin Velasco at: news@thepolypost.com

Ortiz vows to stay and fight

Ortiz vows to stay and fight

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