Editor’s Note: It’s down to the final five in the search for UNM’s next president. The Board of Regents announced the finalists during a closed meeting Monday morning and will conduct in-person inter­views with each final­ist as well as review feed­back from students and staff before officially select­ing the University’s next president by Jan. 5.

Public forums will be held during finals week, where staff and students can meet the finalists and ask them questions. Today’s Daily Lobo features a brief biographical background on each candidate’s educational careers and professional appointments, as well as an expression of their top three goals should they acquire the presidency. Look in tomorrow’s Daily Lobo for a continued question and answer session with each candidate as well as demographical comparisons between UNM and the university’s from which each finalist comes.

Douglas D. Baker
provost and executive vice president,
University of Idaho

Douglas Baker has served as the provost and executive vice-president of the University of Idaho since 2005. Before going to the University of Idaho, he served as the vice-provost for academic affairs and director of the Office of Undergraduate Education at Washington State University. Baker also taught courses in management, organizational behavior, organizational design, strategic planning and human resource management at WSU.
He earned a Ph.D. in business from the University of Nebraska, a M.S. in management and B.S. in business from Colorado State University.

1. If you are selected as the next UNM president, what are your top three goals for improving the University?

I think it’s really important to establish a shared vision for where the institution needs to go. This needs to be developed and agreed upon among all the faculty, staff and stake holders of the University. Also, working with the Board of Regents to make sure there is alignment with the University goals. Within that development process, there are opportunities with students in terms of student recruitment and retention, and on the research side of things there are tremendous opportunities to increase research, both disciplinary and multi-disciplinary research.

Robert G. Frank
provost and senior vice president for academic affairs,
Kent State University

Robert Frank has been the provost and senior vice-president for academic affairs at Kent State University since 2007. According to his résumé, Frank increased student retention rates by more than 6 percent, streamlined promotion and tenure rules and improved tracking of students to ensure graduation. Frank graduated from Mayfield High School in Las Cruces and received three degrees from UNM including a Ph.D in clinical psychology.

1. If you are selected as the next UNM president, what are your top three goals for improving the University?

My first goal is to listen. During my first 100 days I would undertake a listening campaign to meet with critical UNM stakeholders — faculty, students, staff, alumni, business leaders, political leaders, community members, the editorial boards of the Journal, The Daily Lobo and other newspapers to learn more about UNM. I hope to learn how UNM can collaborate with each group to serve the state and become recognized as one of the best public research universities in the United States.  

My second goal is to improve undergraduate retention and graduation outcomes for UNM by focusing on high-impact experiences and providing a high-quality education to students. The third goal is to work with faculty and the research leaders to grow the research enterprise while also growing the economic impact of knowledge created by UNM faculty and staff. Overall, my goal is to ensure the University of New Mexico provides the best education while achieving national and international impact. 

Meredith Hay
special adviser to the chair for strategic initiatives,
Arizona State University

Meredith Hay has served as the special adviser to the chair for strategic initiatives for the Arizona Board of Regents since August of this year.

From 2008 to August 2011, she served as executive vice president and provost of the University of Arizona. Hay was removed from her University of Arizona provost position last summer and reappointed as an adviser to the state’s university board of regents following mixed reviews of her controversial “Transformation Plan,” which saved funds for the university, but upset some faculty, according to the Tucson Sentinel.

She received her Ph.D in cardiovascular pharmacology from the University of Texas. According to her résumé, Hay helped secure more than $1 billion in funding for the Arizona University system from legislators, and has extensive experience with public-private partnerships.

1. If you are selected as the next UNM president, what are your top three goals for improving the University?

As president of the University of New Mexico, one of my goals would be to ensure New Mexico’s stature as a preeminent national and international destination university for an outstanding liberal arts education. Ensconced in a liberal education are experiences leading to the ability to think critically, hypothesize, understand one’s own cultural roots and the cultural roots of others, and communicate effectively. This learning is invaluable for students as they become the next generation of leaders contributing to the realization of our regional, state, national and global long-term goals.    

A second key challenge that is common between New Mexico and Arizona is improving college and career readiness and increasing the number of state residents with a college degree. 

Lastly, The state of New Mexico is primed to take full advantage of the University of New Mexico’s innovative leadership in biomedical, clinical, life and physical sciences research. Similar to the challenges we face in Arizona, state flagship research universities must do a better job of articulating the relationship between a successful nationally ranked research university and the economic vitality and growth of the state’s economy.

Elizabeth Hoffman
executive vice president and provost,
Iowa State University

Elizabeth Hoffman has been the executive vice president and provost at Iowa State University since 2007. From 2000 to 2005 she served as the president of the University of Colorado system, but resigned in 2005 amid controversy over former professor Ward Churchill’s comments comparing Sept. 11, 2001 victims to Nazis. Hoffman refused to fire Churchill and took fire from the state’s governor, after struggling with accusations that the university recruited high school football players with offers of alcohol and sex, according to the New York Times.

She received a Ph.D. in economics from California Institute of Technology. She said she has helped raise retention and graduation rates at Iowa State and said she believes she can make similar changes at UNM by creating more programs to involve students and early warning systems to catch students that fall through the cracks.

1. If you are selected as the next UNM president, what are your top three goals for improving the University?

First, the student graduation rate is a big issue that needs to be tackled. I’m going to need to study carefully what things have and haven’t been done. I know you have a learning communities program.

At Iowa State, we have 85 percent of our new freshmen in a program. Faculty or a professional advisor meets with them regularly, and they share up to three classes in common with other peers in the program. The programs are structured around an interest such as engineering or pre-law or pre-medicine. They live in the dorms together. Wherever there is a critical mass of students in a program we try to keep them together. It provides a bond for students and it provides a group of people the students can depend on, and immediate access to someone that can advise them. The difference in graduation rates is 8 percentage points and that is dramatic; it is statistically significant.

Second, I want to work with the faculty to develop a strategic plan that focuses on the strengths of the University. I get a sense there is a real hunger to move up in the view of the world, as it were, and you can’t always do that by spending money. These are tough times for everyone, so the way to do it smartly is to make investments in those strengths and in the students, A great student experience brings great faculty.

The final thing I want to do is get involved with the community as quickly as possible, get in touch with community leaders, legislatures, travel the state, and really become part of the Albuquerque community.

Elsa A. Murano
professor and president emeritus,
Texas A&M University

Elsa Murano resigned from her position as Texas A&M University president after serving for only one year. The Texas university system gave Murano some of the lowest scores possible on a one-year performance evaluation.

In March 2009, Texas A&M’s student newspaper, The Anthem, accused Murano of lying to the student body and student body president after she appointed a vice president of student affairs before receiving input on the selection from student forums.
Murano refuted the claims in an open letter to the university.

In her year as president, Murano says she developed an academic Master Plan for the university, jump-started the university’s international program by developing the Office of the Vice President for Global Initiatives and led the state in establishing a program called “Aggie Assurance” designed to help low-income students pay for college, according to her résumé.

Before serving as the president of Texas A&M, she served as the vice chancellor and dean of the university’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and worked as the U.S. Under Secretary of Agriculture for Food Safety. Murano earned her Ph.D. in food science and technology as well as her M.S. in anaerobic microbiology from Virginia Tech. She earned her B.S. in biological sciences from Florida International University.

She currently serves as a professor of food safety at Texas A&M.

1. If you are selected as the next UNM president, what are your top three goals for improving the University?

If I am given the opportunity to help lead the University of New Mexico, three of the goals that I believe should be pursued would include: first, enhance our academic programs, both in terms of teaching quality and research productivity; second, ensure that we are providing the best value to our students through the efficient management of our limited resources; and third, help format an open and inclusive governance environment where communication at all levels is valued and encouraged. Mind you, these are only three goals, and embedded within them are a whole host of issues. I am sure there are additional areas that need to be addressed, so the very first thing I would do is listen to what those who have been there think ought to be done.