The University announced three finalists for the interim provost position on Monday, continuing a month-long process to replace former provost Suzanne Ortega.

The finalists — Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, Chaouki T. Abdallah and James W. Linnell — will interview this week to succeed Ortega. All three are employed at UNM.

Each will be part of a public forum where faculty, staff and students can ask questions. Abdallah and Linnell will have their forums Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, at 9:30 a.m. in the SUB Theater. The interim provost will begin a two-year term July 1.

Ortega, named the senior vice president of Academic Affairs at the University of North Carolina on April 11, takes over in North Carolina on July 1. She made $260,000 plus benefits at UNM.
Lopez, a professor at the UNM School of Law, held her forum Tuesday. She said UNM needs to increase its graduation rates.

“We need to work with our counterparts in primary and secondary education to assure that our students are eager to join us and prepared for the rigorous and effective education they will receive at the university level,” she said before the forum.

Abdallah, a professor with the UNM School of Engineering, is the chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. He has been with UNM since 1988.

“By virtue of my technical background, I believe in feedback, both positive and negative and in the creative energy of different opinions,” he said. “I believe in an engaged academic community that keeps the administration focused and the outside world informed.”

Linnell joined UNM in 1975. He is the interim dean at the College of Fine Arts and a professor in the Department of Theater and Dance. He had a seat at the table during the most recent budget process, where he said he learned the importance of shared governance.

“This process created a budget result more favorable to the academic mission than any of us expected at the start,” he said. “In my view it was a window into a way of working that should be continued and built upon.”

The UNM internal search committee selected the three finalists. Following the public forums, the search committee will make a final recommendation to President David Schmidly. Faculty Senate President Richard Wood is the committee chair.