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Meet the finalists for NMSU’s future president

New Mexico State University needs a new president, and an appointed presidential search committee is looking for the right fit for the position.

After the NMSU Board of Regents agreed to a mutual separation from former Chancellor Dan Arvizu in April 2023, the board selected Jay Gogue as the interim chancellor. Now, as Gogue’s days as interim chancellor come to an end, the search committee has narrowed down its selection to these five finalists for the position of NMSU’s next president. (Photo courtesy of NMSU)

Five finalists are now competing for the chance to take on the challenging task of being the university’s president, and the NMSU Board of Regents has been working hard to find the applicant that best meets the qualifying criteria.

Ammu Devasthali, chair of the NMSU Board of Regents, said that all the candidates who want to be the university’s next president are dedicated to the success of NMSU. According to a university press release published last summer, Devasthali believes Ben Woods, a member of the presidential search committee, will help guide the committee into making the right choice. “We are fortunate that Ben Woods, NMSU’s former senior vice president for external relations, has agreed to serve as chair for this committee,” Devasthali said. “I am confident the efforts of this entire committee will lead to the selection of an outstanding new president for NMSU.”

After the NMSU Board of Regents agreed to a mutual separation from former Chancellor Dan Arvizu in April 2023, the board selected Jay Gogue as the interim chancellor. Now, as Gogue’s days as interim chancellor come to an end, the appointed search committee has entered the final stage in the process of selecting NMSU’s next president.

Each candidate appeared in a series of public forums last week. The candidates’ expanded biographies, resumes, and equity, inclusion and diversity statements are also publicly available for review. 

Meet the Finalists

Michael Galyean (Courtesy Photo)

Michael Galyean received his bachelor’s degree in agriculture from NMSU over 50 years ago in 1973. He also received his master’s degree in animal science in 1975 and a doctorate in animal nutrition in 1977 from Oklahoma State University. He served for 13 years on the faculty at NMSU, and an additional six years as superintendent of the Clayton Livestock Research Center. Other accomplishments include being an animal science professor at West Texas A&M University for two years before he went on to work at Texas Tech University for 26 years.

Wayne E. Jones Jr. (Courtesy Photo)

Wayne E. Jones Jr. is the vice president for academic affairs and a chemistry professor at the University of New Hampshire. Before his success at UNH, he joined the chemistry faculty at the State University of New York at Binghamton, and became a founding director of the university’s Center for Learning and Teaching. His success does not stop there, as he has published well over 180 research articles. He also currently serves as the chair of the board of directors for the American Chemical Society. Jones received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from St. Michael’s College and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from UNC at Chapel Hill.

Austin A. Lane (Courtesy Photo)

Austin A. Lane became the chancellor of Southern Illinois University Carbondale on July 1, 2020. He has overseen the launch and implementation of the university’s strategic plan, preparing him for his possible role as president. Before he joined SIU, his career in higher education was marked by a variety of successive leadership roles, such as serving as president of Texas Southern University. He also received the 100 Black Men of America Rising Star award in 2022. Lane holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Langston University, a master’s in human relations from the University of Oklahoma, and an Ed.D. in higher education administration from the University of Alabama. A native of New Jersey, Lane also attended Odessa Junior College on a basketball scholarship.

John Volin (Courtesy Photo)

John Volin is the executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Maine, including the University of Maine at Machias. Since 2021, he has led the UMS TRANSFORMS Student Success and Retention Initiative, working to improve connection and engagement across all campuses within the University of Maine system. He has also done extensive research in ecosystems around the world with a focus on invasive species and restoration ecology. Along with his research, he also serves on the NCAA Division I Committee on Academics as of last September. Volin holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from South Dakota State University, and received his Ph.D. in forestry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Richard Williams (Courtesy Photo)

Richard Williams previously served as president of Utah Tech University from 2014 until early 2024. He led the Trailblazer athletics department to Division I status, which increased donations tremendously for the institution. Before he served as president at Utah Tech, he served as vice president for academic affairs at Indiana State University and served as the associate dean in the College of Education at University of Northern Iowa. Williams holds a bachelor’s degree in lifestyle management from Weber State University and a master’s degree in athletic training from Indiana State. He also received his Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from NMSU.

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