The pattern at NMSU continues

Jim Spence (left)
Commentary by Jim Spence - Suddenly we are learning that NMSU President Barbara Couture has been placed on leave. Rumors are running rampant regarding her status with the Board of Regents. One thing seems certain. The leadership hiring processes, done as a matter of routine at NMSU, will not change even if the president changes…..again.
Time and time again, instead of showing confidence in its own institution’s ability to develop management talent, the NMSU Board of Regents chooses to go outside this unique area of the country for new leadership. Accordingly, we see the same old pattern of disappointing results. Each national “search” produces presidents and athletic directors that deliver underwhelming performances once they arrive in Las Cruces.
Some would argue a few of the presidents who used NMSU as a mere stepping stone to a job somewhere else helped NMSU during their brief stays. The facts suggest these men were more interested in the visions regarding “their own futures," than those of NMSU.
Let’s look at five facts. 1) Tuition and fees at NMSU have been hiked at double the rate of inflation for decades. 2) The nursing program at DABCC, which was threatened with the loss of basic accreditation several years ago due to neglect, actually lost it. 3) Despite living in one of the fastest growing counties in the nation, attendance has been stagnant at football games and lower at basketball games for decades. 4) As a result of a complete lack of strategic vision and fan-base building, the NMSU athletic program has finally been decimated. Today NMSU faces a virtual doomsday scenario as one conference after another rejects NMSU’s membership applications.
NMSU Regent Javier Gonzales
5) The remarkably duplicitous behavior of NMSU Regent Javier Gonzales is another under-publicized black mark on the NMSU leadership ledger. A political appointee to begin with, Gonzales had a golden opportunity, through his political influence, to land a sorely needed film studio and sound stage for the Creative Media Institute at NMSU. Instead, while purportedly serving NMSU’s interests as a regent, Gonzales collaborated with his political connections all over the state on behalf of cronies at Santa Fe Studios, a private entity. For a still undisclosed “consultant fee,” Gonzales managed to steer a taxpayer funding package worth more than $20 million to the Hool brothers who own Santa Fe studios. Today, while Santa Fe Studios operates an incredible state of the art private facility built with public money, NMSU’s Creative Media Institute attempts to function while located in the bowels of Milton Hall, one of the oldest buildings on the NMSU campus. In part II of this column tomorrow we will explore what NMSU could do to create more positive momentum for the future.

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