November 19 – Outgoing New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas was elected the next president of Northern New Mexico College.
After a month-long search, the College of Regents unanimously selected Balderas on Thursday.
“I am honored that the Regents, faculty and staff will work with me as we lead Northern New Mexico College into the future, building on student success and institutional development,” Balderas said in a statement on Friday.
Balderas has been New Mexico’s Attorney General since 2015 but will step down from the role this year after term limits prevented him from seeking re-election.
NNMC has been without a permanent president since January, when former college president Rick Bailey left the institution. After the search for Bailey’s successor was initially stalled due to personnel changes, NNMC hired university leadership recruitment firm AGB Presidential Search to assist in the process.
In October, Balderas was listed among four finalists for the role, including assistant secretary of New Mexico Higher Education and former NNMC professor Patricia Trujillo; Vice President for Academic Affairs at Dalton State College in Dalton, Georgia, Bruno Hicks; and Yueh-Ting Lee, professor of applied psychology at Southern Illinois University. Another finalist, Dr. David L. Johns, president of Ferrum College in an eponymous Virginia town, withdrew from the search in October.
Although she was not chosen to be NNMC’s president, Trujillo said she is proud to be able to apply for a position of such rank in her native language, Española, and hopes her candidacy will inspire other women of color to pursue important roles to adopt in their communities. She wished NNMC the best of luck for the next chapter.
Lee and Hicks did not respond to requests for comment Friday.
Earlier in the fall, all four finalists visited the NNMC campus and spent two days interviewing students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members, said Michael Martin, president of the college’s Board of Regents.
Martin said Balderas, who grew up in Wagon Mound, has good contacts with stakeholders on the NNMC campus.
“I was impressed by his interviews with the community. When he was here for two days, he identified very strongly with the students at Northern. … I think he’s going to be a very good leader for us,” said Martin.
Jake Arnold, Executive Director of NNMC El Rito Campus Advocacy Group La Sociedad Venceslao Jaramillo, approved the Regents’ choice of Balderas as the college’s next president.
“I can only say about the appointment of the regents: Well done,” said Arnold. “We are very pleased with the choice of Hector Balderas. We think he was by far the best candidate for this position.”
The board will now enter into negotiations with Balderas to determine the newly-elected president’s duties, compensation and benefits, the college said in a press release Friday afternoon. Once negotiations are complete, the board will hold a special meeting to formally approve the contract and confirm Balderas’ new role.