Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Walter Rubel
Syndicated content 

NMSU regents in danger of repeat mistakes


January 11, 2023

The last time the New Mexico State University Board of Regents set out to pick a new leader, after having unceremoniously ridded themselves of Garrey Carruthers, they had a hard time picking between the two finalists for the job. And so they hired both of them.

At a combined salary of almost $1 million.

Let’s hope there’s a clear frontrunner this time.

The decision in 2018 to hire both Dan Arvizu, at a yearly salary of $500,000, and John Floros, at $450,000, came as a complete surprise to NMSU faculty, staff and students. Carruthers had been earning less than $375,000 a year at the time his contract was not renewed.

Regents justified the massive increase in executive salaries by explaining that one man would be put in charge of the main campus, while the other would have authority over the rest of the NMSU system. It was a change they had been considering for some time, then-Regent Kari Mitchell explained.

Maybe so, but it was a private discussion. The rest of the NMSU community was never included in that deliberation, and they never bought into the changes.

In 2021, both the NMSU Faculty Senate and the Senate of the Associated Students passed resolutions of no confidence against Floros and then-Provost Carol Parker, who was later fired.

The first in a list of five allegations leading up to the no-confidence vote was “misappropriation of university funds.” Organizers of the opposition vote later explained that they weren’t alleging theft, but were responding to the huge increase in executive salaries.

It didn’t help that at the same time NMSU was paying nearly $1 million a year for just two employees, graduate students who do much of the classroom teaching barely earned enough to survive.

A new contract approved last month should help that situation.

According to NMSU Graduate Workers United, there are more than 800 graduate workers who perform vital functions throughout the university system. Yet, most have been working without health insurance, tuition assistance or the opportunity for summer employment.

The new contract includes raises for many graduate workers, partial tuition coverage and stipends for the health insurance costs of international students. It’s a start.

The (almost) million-dollar duo was never able to fully implement the new vision that was laid out when they were hired.

The NMSU system that Arvizu was hired to specifically oversee shrank in May 2021 when what was NMSU Carlsbad broke ties with the university system to become Southeast New Mexico College.

Floros stepped down a year ago, bringing an end to the two-leader experiment.

And, it was recently announced in a news release that regents would not renew the contract of Arvizu when it expires in June. The news release praised Arvizu’s accomplishments, but did not explain why his contract is not being renewed and what changes regents now want to make with a new leader.

The news release did state, “the board plans to make sure the search is transparent and fully engages NMSU faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors, community members and other stakeholders across the region.”

We’ll see. If they don’t, it will demonstrate an inability to learn from past mistakes, no matter how glaring they may be.

Walt Rubel is the former opinion page editor of the Las Cruces Sun-News. He lives in Las Cruces, and can be reached at:

[email protected]


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