The search for interim and permanent replacements for Northern New Mexico College President Rick Bailey began with a Nov. 15 Board of Regents meeting where Regents discussed the merits and pitfalls of conducting a search using a national search company or keeping the search in in-house, with regents doing what was repeatedly referred to as the “heavy lifting.”

Regent Erica Velarde  suggested a search be held for one person who would serve as the interim and eventually the permanent president. 

“We need to keep the momentum going and be transparent with whoever we hire,” she said.

Bailey said most institutions in this situation make it a requisite that if the interim president agrees to take that position he or she agrees to not be eligible for the permanent post.

“It sends a clear message this is not an inside track to a permanent job,” he said.

Board President Michael Martin said his intent was to get someone in place to watch over the many projects Bailey has created and work for the College at the upcoming legislative session, which will start two days after Bailey’s last day as president.

“We don’t want them sidetracked vying for the presidency,” he said.

He suggested focusing on nailing down the qualifications.

Regent Porter Swentzell agreed and said the job description Bailey was handed would be a good starting point.

Martin said Bailey’s job had changed dramatically in five years, mostly because of what Bailey had taken on by his own actions.

Board attorney Geno Zamora said the Board should begin by defining expectations and qualifications for the interim president. Then work on a timeline.

Martin said he hoped to hire someone at the Dec. 10 meeting and have someone in place by Dec. 15 so the interim president could spend a month with Bailey.

Zamora said that was an aggressive time frame.

The discussion then turned to whether to hire a national search firm or do it themselves. Martin said he wanted to get a job description and the search firm would advertise and publish nationally, also using their database of possible candidates.

Once a list was given to Regents, they would “weed out people” and come up with five finalists.

Swentzel said, “Many of the tasks a search firm would do, we’re doing. Many of the places a national search firm would advertise are major higher ed publications. They’re not mysterious places. We could place ads ourselves and save thousands of dollars.”

Large firms may overlook local people also, he said, disregarding local people who would make a good president.

Bailey countered a search firm would do things for which regents may have a “blind spot.” 

Velarde brought up the perception New Mexico is different and a large search firm wouldn’t understand that.

“Northern New Mexico is such a special place and it’s different,” she said “We were blessed to get Rick, who knew the area and people so well.”

The price was also a sticking point.

“I can’t see spending $30K and we’re talking about raising the tuition,” she said.

Hugh Prather led the search in 2015, which resulted in Bailey’s hire. He spoke about the process the search committee used then. The seven points he suggested be followed focused on planning and execution to eliminate surprises. It also encouraged transparency and clarity, while involving everyone who needs to be heard.

The Board approved a search committee composed of the following people:

Martin and Swentzell

Northern Foundation President Alfred Herrera

Eagle Corporation board member Kathy Keith

Northern Community Branch College Vice President Jon Paul Romero

Alumni Association President Roberta Orona-Cordova

Faculty Senate President Ana Gutierrez Sisneros

Student Senate President Bruno Guedes

Union President Tim Crone

Marketing Director Sandy Krolick

Athletic Director Ryan Cordova

College administrative assistant Rachel Begay

Executive Office Director Amy Peña

Michael Rivera, of the veterans research center

Community member Willie Williams

Regents also each appointed a member:

Velarde chose Tanya Sanchez of the Foundation.

Student Regent Evelyn Juarez chose Alvin Warren, of the Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation and Santa Clara Pueblo.

Porter chose Nathana Bird, of Tewa Women United.

State Representative Susan Herrera was Martin’s choice.

Regent Ruben Archuleta said he was approached by Ohkay Owingeh, who wanted representation on the committee. He said they would give him a name from their Tribal Council.

The Board was set to meet Monday night but an error in posting the public notice prohibited it. The Board will meet 2 to 5 p.m., Nov. 29 to establish a job description and subsequent help wanted ad for the interim president position.

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