Search For New CFO, COO at UNM Gets Underway

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., November 6, 2018  — The University of New Mexico is still several months away from filling one of the most powerful positions on campus.

David Harris – executive vice president for administration/chief financial officer/chief operating officer – is retiring at year’s end, but the search for his replacement is in its infancy.

While President Garnett Stokes had previously indicated plans to name Harris’ successor before he left, the timeline has now shifted.

She now intends to make a permanent hire by late spring, according to a campus-wide message sent Monday. Stokes wrote that Craig White, dean of UNM’s Anderson School of Management, would help bridge the gap. He assumes the duties on an interim basis starting Jan. 1.

“Dean White’s background in accounting, his oversight of a very successful school of business, and his time serving in executive leadership will be highly beneficial to UNM,” Stokes wrote, adding that naming him the interim now “will allow plenty of time for a smooth transition” in the finance and administration office.

White has experience in the upper administration; he filled in as interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs in 2017.

UNM has taken some initial steps toward finding Harris’ replacement.

It convened a 21-member search committee with representation from across campus. Julie Coonrod, dean of Graduate Studies, will chair it.

UNM has also contracted a professional search firm, Alabama-based Wheless Partners, to assist. UNM will pay the firm $78,000, plus expenses.

Wheless is visiting campus today for a series of “listening sessions” with staff, faculty and students to gather input about the position’s challenges and needs.

Harris’ is just one of several key vacancies Stokes must fill. She also must hire a provost, and a vice president for equity and inclusion.


Wheless Partners Executive Search has over 30 years’ experience partnering with clients to ensure they attract and retain premier talent to help achieve their most critical goals. Wheless Partners is a 2017 Top Healthcare Search Firm as ranked by Modern Healthcare, placing us among the best in the country for effectiveness and success in placing senior-level healthcare executives. As trusted healthcare advisors, we are also 1 of only 40 firms selected & sanctioned in ACHE’s National Executive Search Firm Exchange.

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