The Presidential Search of 2003, part 1

In March 2002 the Daily Lobo of UNM printed an editorial by the Editor in Chief, Iliana Limon, titled “Presidential Search Key to State’s Future.”  It urged the UNM community to keep an eye on the future presidential search, and bemoaned the past search that the Regents shrouded in secrecy, closed door interviews, and the appearance of pre-selection.  Limon stated “the regents were caught at their own game and, worse yet, were too foolish to admit they were wrong, further alienating citizens confidence in the state’s flagship university.”  This new presidential search should have been seen as bringing more honesty to reassure the community skeptical about the interests the regents were serving.(1) There was less scandal but still duplicity in the new search.

In February 2003 the Daily Lobo reported that the UNM Presidential Search Committee narrowed down the list of applicants for UNM president from 83 the week before to a number fewer than fifteen.  The qualifications they gave for the president, along with being able to pass a government security clearance and be able to access classified information, included “the ability to lead a diverse, complex, public research university…that serves the entire state.”  The issue of identity politics in its most narrow form, and the issue of candidates sex and race, was recognized by regent Larry Willard when he said “we’ve got a fairly good mix in terms of gender and ethnicity” of the 15 or so candidates.  Willard also said the search committee “had not yet addressed the presidential security clearnance issue.”(2)

The way the search works is that the Regents are the ones that choose the president.  The 11 member presidential search committee solely evaluates applications and then recommends between five to ten candidates to the Regents, and then the regents select five finalists for the position.  The seven-member board of Regents ultimately selects the president.

The next month in March it was reported that the search committee interviewed 12 to 15 candidates for the position.  (3)  At the end of that month the Regents announced five finalists.  Caldera was one of the five.  At the time he was serving as vice chancellor of university advancement for the California State University System.  This was his first job in higher education.  This fact, and that he was being considered for the top job at UNM despite his lack of experience in the field, was a problem for many UNM faculty.

The different perspectives from different constituents on the nature of the university.

The Albuquerque Tribune in March 2003 quoted Hugh Witemeyer, an English professor at UNM for 30 years, saying Caldera didn’t have experience in a classroom or published any scholarly works.  He said “A university cannot be run like a bureaucracy or a corporation.” (4) Apparently Witemeyer has some idealistic view of the university of how it was run supposedly in the past.  For a university is becoming more corporatized and bureaucratized.  Witemeyer also said later: “I think the notion that the president of the university doesn’t have to be an educator is a dangerous notion…It represents a step in the militarization and corporatization of the university.”(5)

Caldera saw his background of meeting challenges as enough qualifications, saying the president lead a university and not to be a scholar or teacher.

Regent Sandra Begay-Campbell agreed with Caldera in a way, saying they were looking for someone to run a university and not a classroom.  She noted all the finalists had diverse backgrounds from business to academics.  Begay-Campbell also said that UNM’s next president will have to spend more time off campus for fundraising and community relations, “to lead and manage a complex organization.”(4)

UNM Deputy Provost Richard Holder said that the administrators of a university rising through the ranks through academia is not as crucial as it once was.  University boards have increasingly leaned away from the academic ladder.  The Tribune quoted an assistant editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education as saying boards are wanting someone with experience outside of higher education.  Julianne Basinger says governing boards “want the best of both worlds…The ideal candidate is someone who has a Ph.D. . who also managed to gain experience in business or politics.”(4)

Despite this faculty still wanted someone with an academic background.  The list of qualification for UNM president included “academic credentials to include teaching, research and service in a college or university setting that merit appointment to the ranks of the senior faculty in an academic unit.”  Faculty Senate president Beverly Burris also wanted a finalist to have some knowledge of “teaching and scholarship, because it’s the heart of the university,” which she saw as teaching and research.(4)

The regents and their interests had other ideas.


1.Limon, Iliana.  “Presidential Search Key to State’s Future (Editorial).”  Daily Lobo.  March 25, 2002.  Pg. 4.

2. Proctor, Jeff.  “UNM Presidential Search Narrows.”  Daily Lobo.  February 18, 2003.  Pg. 1,3.

3. Uyttebrouck, Olivier.  “Candidates Interviewed for UNM Presidency.”  Albuquerque Journal.  March 4, 2003.  Pg. D2.

4. Sanchez, Jennifer W.  “Credentials of Presidential Hopeful Questioned.”  Albuquerque Tribune.  March 28, 2003.  Pg. A9.

5. Uyttebrouck, Olivier.  “Up the Ranks.”  Albuquerque Journal.  May 18, 2003.  Pg. A1.


About elloborojo

Okay, as the subtitle states, this is a notebook from what I call a New Mexico diaspora (look up diaspora if you are asking). I was a former resident of New Mexico, now living elsewhere, but New Mexico is still my homeland. To get more in touch with your homeland one must be away from it. This is my attempt to understand it. I was a former anti-militarism activist in the Albuquerque area. Still believe that United Snakes militarism is the greatest threat to the world, as do the majority of the worlds population. Uncovered much information about the ties in New Mexico, but never processed it all. This blog is an attempt to do that. Also hope it may come of use to others with similar interests.
This entry was posted in Albuquerque, Louis Caldera, Universities, University of New Mexico. Bookmark the permalink.

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