returns to Scholes Hall for top job
Science Professor F. Chris Garcia observes that his ascent to
the UNM presidency has taken some unusual, but fortunate, twists
doubt very seriously if many people at universities have gone
back and forth as many times as I have from administration to
faculty. Most people usually choose one career or another. Certainly,
once they are into administration, they continue, he says.
About half of his 32 years at UNM have been in administration,
he quickly adds, Ive found it not only challenging,
but extremely fulfilling to do both, because not many people
get the opportunity to do both. Ive always considered
myself fortunate to have the opportunities Ive had here
at the University. My feeling has always been that I am a professor
serving in an administrative capacity. And so I carry that feeling
with me going into the presidency for a year. But the main thing
is I am very fortunate. I am a very fortunate person.
agrees that the word reluctant is an accurate
characterization of how he recently came to be selected
as UNMs president. He says he was only settling
back into my faculty role now, two years out of administration
and feeling very comfortable
.I enjoy the teaching
very much, the research and writing and so I said Im not
going to seriously consider it (becoming a candidate for
helping him change his mind was a petition signed by nearly
100 UNM faculty members. That was totally unexpected.
But, to me, being asked by a significant number of my colleagues
was not to be lightly dismissed. It touched me very much and
I started to waiver, he says.
Garcia says, he talked with his wife, thought about family
considerations and how much he was enjoying life as a
faculty member, and his resolve re-hardened. He said he told
some of the key faculty that I was very flattered, but
at this time I thought it best that I remain a faculty member
since that is my chosen profession and I was enjoying it very
much. But they wouldnt take no for an answer.
as I guess, the word spread and I began to get more encouragement
and support from people on campus at firstincluding faculty,
staff and studentsand also, then, to receive encouragement
and support from people off campus
(including) some very
nice articles in the local newspapers, as well as columns, editorials
who was UNMs first Hispanic dean of the College of Arts
and Sciences, first Hispanic provost and now becomes UNMs
first Hispanic president, says its a very good thing
that people are just looking at individuals as individuals,
which I like. On the other hand, the University is 113 years
old and its a good thing that the Hispanic community is
represented and I fully expect that Ill be the first of
many more to come in the future. It is a great honor to me in
many ways, being a member of the Hispanic community as well
as being the President of the University in my home state and
in my home town.
says his priorities for the next year will be based upon UNMs
talking with President Gordon to see which areas need the most
attention and those will be the priorities. At this time, I
think we have some very well-established priorities through
the strategic plan. Implementation is where many strategic plans
get caught up on, so I think that will be part of the focus.
That could be one of the highest priorities, to implement many
of the recommendations, goals and objectives of the strategic
plan, he says.
his presidential style will be, Garcia says I just will
continue to do things as I have. Im always open to suggestions.
Im always on the lookout for good ideas because I like
to consult widely. I think all sectors of the University need
to be involved with decision making. I want to maintain as much
accessibility as possible.
or requests does he have for the campus community?
would just ask them to keep doing the good job that theyre
doing, he says. Just keep, as they have been in
the past, working hard, keeping the faith in the institution
and the state and, when we have hard times, to bear with us.
I know from my long-term perspective, that well get through
any difficult times.
of the campus community, Garcia adds, need to know that
they are appreciated. And, I hope that I can show some of that
appreciation, as President Gordon has, to the many good people
would really hope that we can maintain, and even enhance, our
feeling of community with each other on campus and with the
external community. I would very much like that. That will be
a high priority for me.