UNM’s New Prez

According to the Albuquerque Journal, the University of New Mexico has a new president. Finally, they picked someone to replace Louis Caldera, the former Clinton-era Secretary of the Army. Although I have to say, having graduated from the University of New Mexico, having someone running the show who had to run an institution like the Army would be a benefit when dealing with that damn teachers union! 😉

Instead of picking the “safe” candidate, New Mexico Tech President Dan Lopez, the regents at UNM went with president of Oklahoma State University, David Schmidly. Schmidly was picked in part because he comes from a larger institution with a medical school. Lopez was the safe pick because he was endorsed by the Hispano Roundtable , and because he runs a college in New Mexico and everyone would have been happy letting him try to run UNM.

This is a problem I’ve noticed in New Mexico, with schools, with the football and basketball programs, with businesses. We are happy to have people who are… not the best candidate for the job, as long as they are from here, or are willing to say “Working at the University of New Mexico (or in New Mexico) is my dream job” like Rocky Long did. It’s a very provincial attitude, we just want to be loved by the people we hire.

Instead of trying to get the best person for the job, then improving conditions to ensure we keep them around, we want it the other way around. We want someone who is happy with UNM the way it is and is willing to adjust to what is established. Someone who is “just happy to be at the school of my dreams, gosh darn it!” instead of someone saying “look, I’m here and I’m going to try and make improvements to this school. If you don’t want them to happen, tell me now and I’ll use this as a stepping stone to a more progressive school that wants to improve and break into the top (or in UNM’s case even the second) tier of universities.”

But that’s something I don’t think we can handle hearing right now. I hope I’m wrong and this new hire will be able to bring UNM further along the path of becoming a better university.

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