NMSU regents trim Carruthers’ power as chancellor

February 14, 2018

The New Mexico State University Board of Regents has voted to strip the power to hire and fire administrators from the school’s chancellor, former Gov. Garrey Carruthers.

Carruthers, 78, is one of the university’s legendary characters. He served as dean of the college of business before becoming chancellor in 2013.

Asked what he thought about the move limiting his power, Carruthers said, “I love my regents. They’re the best people in America.”

As to whether he was upset by the action, Carruthers said, “I don’t talk about my emotional status. What I’m interested in is the welfare of the university.”

The regents’ neutering of Carruthers comes months after the board declined to extend Carruthers’ contract. His career as chancellor ends June 30.

The regents’ resolution says the Carruthers administration will not hire officials for senior leadership, coaching and executive team positions. Instead, positions can instead be filled by interim appointments with the board chairman’s approval.

A top state senator criticized the regents’ latest move as a slap at Carruthers and his long service to the state.

“I am personally offended by the way the New Mexico State Board of Regents, led by board [chairwoman] Debra Hicks, has unceremoniously ended the career of such a great man,” Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, said in a statement. “Gov. Carruthers deserves much, much better.”

Hicks could not be reached for comment Tuesday. But she said during a regents’ meeting that the measure would allow Carruthers’ successor to choose leadership staff.

Carruthers, who has become a beloved elder statesman on campus, said Tuesday he will continue working under the new more restrictive conditions.

“Four and a half months isn’t very long, but there’s a lot to do. I’ll continue to work hard,” he said.

Carruthers announced last year that he planned to retire, but then he said he wanted to stay on as chancellor for another couple of years. The regents voted 4-0 in August to search for a new chancellor.

All of those regents were appointees of Gov. Susana Martinez.

Some Democratic legislators have charged that Martinez wanted to run off Carruthers. Both Martinez and Carruthers are Republicans, but Carruthers has been an occasional critic of Martinez, notably when she vetoed the entire budget for colleges and universities last year.

For her part, Martinez has said through a spokesman that she did not play a part in the regents’ decision about who should lead New Mexico State University.

Contact Andrew Oxford at 505-986-3093 or aoxford@sfnewmexican.com. Follow him on Twitter @andrewboxford.