RH Perry & Associates Recruits 19th President for New Mexico Highlands University

February 8, 2024 – RH Perry & Associates has assisted in the recruitment of Neil Woolfe as the 23rd president of New Mexico Highlands University (NMHU). Sam Minner recently retired after nine years with the school. The assignment was led by senior consultants Sue DeWine and Pam Shockley-ZalabakDr. Woolf has been appointed to a conditional five-year term with an annual salary of $290,000, and he will begin his term once Dr. Minner has completed his contract, no later than July 1, 2024. The board of regents unanimously selected Dr. Woolf after weighing input from the NMHU and Las Vegas community and with the assistance of RH Perry & Associates.

Dr. Woolf was selected from a field of over 80 candidates. The board of regents charged the search committee and its chairman, Brandon Kempner, to conduct an open and transparent search that incorporated feedback received from students, staff, faculty, alumni, and the residents of the Las Vegas community, the advice and assistance of RH Perry & Associates, and within the parameters set out by New Mexico state statute. Hundreds of stakeholders responded to a feedback survey conducted on campus and in the community at the outset of the search.

“The time the committee spent screening, interviewing, and hosting the candidates on campus was invaluable in helping the regents make the best possible selection for Highlands,” Dr. Kempner said. “The Las Vegas community warmly hosted the candidates during the campus interviews and shared their feedback with the regents. All this participation made for a truly inclusive process, and we are extremely optimistic about the future of Highlands.”

“Throughout the interview process, Dr. Woolf demonstrated his strong understanding and support for Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI),” said New Mexico Highlands University board of regents chairman William E. García. “His previous work with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) included helping establish the first HSI in Nevada. Dr. Woolf was selected because he possesses the best range of experiences and credentials–that’s really what allowed him to emerge from the outstanding candidates in our search,” Garcia said. “The regents were impressed by his experience in recruitment and enrollment and his extensive academic and financial experience.”

Dr. Woolf brings over 22 years of higher education administrative experience to NMHU. He currently serves as the executive vice president for Southern Oregon University (SOU), a public university in Ashland, OR. He also served SOU as the vice president of enrollment management and student affairs from 2019-2023. His responsibilities at SOU included legislative engagement, strategic enrollment planning, operational investments and strategic partnerships with business and education leaders, implementation of equity, diversity, and inclusion principles and practices to better serve students, capital projects and planning, and institutional budget management and financial stability. Dr. Woolf also served as the enrollment officer and interim assistant vice chancellor for enrollment management at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 2018 and the associate VP for enrollment management at Eastern Washington University from 2013-18.

“I am grateful and honored to be able to serve as the president of New Mexico Highlands,” Dr. Woolf said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to build upon the success of our students and the success of the institution. I believe in the mission of New Mexico Highlands, and I know that we will do good work on behalf of the institution and its communities. My wife and I were both overwhelmed by the kindness we experienced in Las Vegas and the level of commitment the community members have for their community, the institution of NMHU, and our students. It’s exactly what we were looking for–a place to call home that has a strong level of commitment to student success.”

Related: RH Perry & Associates Recruits CFO for California State University Stanislaus

New Mexico Highlands University was founded in 1893. It is a public, state-funded, regional comprehensive university. The school is a Hispanic Serving Institution and an aspiring Native American Serving Non-Tribal Institution, with open admissions and master’s level programs serving more than 68 percent Hispanic, Native American, and African American students.

Established Higher Education Recruiters

Established in 1974, RH Perry & Associates offers strong credentials and experience in academic executive search, having successfully completed well over 1,000 searches in its history. Serving both two-year and four-year institutions, the firm’s higher education practice consists of senior-level executives with a well-balanced mix of college and university presidential and senior administrative experience and executive search expertise. Headquartered in Ashville, NC, RH Perry’s consultants maintain offices in Washington, D.C., Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

RH Perry & Associates Places President for Sterling College in Vermont
RH Perry & Associates has placed Scott L. Thomas, dean of the College of Education at the University of Wyoming, as the next president of Sterling College in Craftsbury Common, VT. Senior consultant Kathy Krendl led the assignment. Dr. Thomas will begin his new role on July 1. Lori Collins-Hall, who has been serving as interim president of the college since late 2021, will return to her role as senior vice president and chief operating officer. Dr. Thomas brings more than 25 years of teaching and leadership experience at private and public institutions. A first-generation college student, he has devoted his career to advancing programs and policies to expand access to quality college opportunities, ensure student success, and build diverse organizations.

Dr. DeWine has 45 years of experience as a higher education administrator, and fundraiser. She joined RH Perry & Associates in 2015 after more than 40 years in higher education. She has had a successful career in academe with extensive experience as an administrator, fundraiser, and communication consultant. She was a full professor and consultant to industry in a large public institution and provost and president at two small private colleges. Her expertise is academics.

Dr. Shockley-Zalabak joined RH Perry & Associates in 2023 after more than 35 years in higher education. She is chancellor and professor emerita of the University of Colorado Springs and the author of nine books and over 100 other publications and productions. Dr. Shockley-Zalabak is also president of CommuniCon Inc., an organizational and leadership development corporation, with clients in the U.S. and Europe.

Related: RH Perry & Associates Recruits President for Onondaga Community College

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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