ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The University of New Mexico Board of Regents made history Thursday as it named Dr. Garnett Stokes the first woman president to lead the state’s flagship school.
Stokes, the provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Missouri, was among five finalists chosen as part of a national search. She is scheduled to begin her new job in March.
The announcement was made during a special regents’ meeting that marked the culmination of a 10-month process that included surveys, public forums, listening sessions and other meetings between the finalists and members of the university community and administration.
Stokes, 61, accepted a five-year contract with a salary of $400,000.
She takes over as the University of New Mexico and other New Mexico colleges grapple with funding shortages and enrollments that have generally trended downward. The University of New Mexico also faces accusations of financial mismanagement in its athletics department.
“This is a transformational time at UNM, and Dr. Stokes brings the experience, skills and vision that UNM needs in a president to drive UNM beyond just its potential,” Regents’ President Rob Doughty said in a statement.
Doughty said a survey of faculty members indicated that Stokes had the greatest level of support among the finalists.
Before being hired at Missouri, she served as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Florida State University. In 2014, she served as that university’s interim president and created a task force to address sexual and domestic violence. She also led the school’s diversity and inclusion committee on recruitment and retention while she was provost.
Stokes, a first-generation college graduate, earned a psychology degree from Carson-Newman College in Tennessee and master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Georgia.
She will take over from interim President Chaouki Abdallah, who has served in the post since Bob Frank left last year.
The other finalists included University of Idaho President Charles “Chuck” Staben, medical school deans David A. Brenner at the University of California San Diego and Kenneth Kaushansky at Stony Brook University, and Anny Morrobel-Sosa, a former administrator at City University of New York and the University of Texas at El Paso.