Three finalists named for top post at UNM-Taos

Public invited to meet candidates at open forums


University of New Mexico officials have announced three contenders in the search for the next CEO of Taos’ community college.

Dr. Kate O’Neill, who for 10 years served as CEO of UNM-Taos, announced last April she was leaving that position. Her decision kicked off a year-long effort to find her replacement — a task led by administrators at the flagship campus in Albuquerque.

Dr. Patrick Valdez, Dr. Teresita Aguilar and Dr. Mark Van Den Hende are in the running to lead Taos’ only community college at a time when the school is solidifying its physical footprint and looking to educate locals in health and technology.

Valdez earned a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Texas at Austin and is currently an associate professor and dean of the undergraduate college at the College of Mount Saint Vincent in New York City, according to UNM-Taos. His research focuses on “Hispanic-serving institutions” of higher education. (UNM-Taos is federally designated as one such institution).

Valdez also previously acted as senior academic policy analyst at Lehman College – City University of New York and as the director of college access and success initiatives at the Association of Public and Land‐Grant Universities.

Aguilar, who earned a doctorate in college and university teaching from the University of North Texas, is the only candidate with recent experience in higher education administration in New Mexico.

She was the provost and vice president of academic affairs for New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas from 2014 until June 2016, when her contract for that position was not renewed, according to the Las Vegas Optic.

Before that, Aguilar was a dean in the Office of Graduate Studies at UNM, as well as the academic dean for the School of Professional Studies and Worden School of Social Service at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas.

Van Den Hende, who received his doctorate from Washington State University, is currently the vice president for academic and student affairs at Bermuda College, an institution with about 1,100 students.

Before his current position, Van Den Hende served as the vice president for academic affairs and dean for faculty at South Georgia State College. 

If you go

Candidates will meet with faculty, staff, students and community members during separate events over the next three weeks. Each candidate will be available for both a morning and evening session.

Dr. Patrick Valdez

Feb. 16, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

UNM-Taos Klauer Campus (1157 County Road 110, Ranchos de Taos), Padre Martinez Hall, Room A

Feb. 16, 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Taos Municipal Schools Administration Building (210 Camino de la Placita, Taos), board room

Dr. Teresita Aguilar

Feb. 21, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

UNM-Taos Klauer Campus, Padre Martinez Hall, Room D

Feb. 21, 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

TMS Administration Building, Board Room

Dr. Mark Van Den Hende

March 2, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

UNM-Taos Klauer Campus  110, Ranchos de Taos), Padre Martinez Hall, Room A

March 2, 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

TMS Administration Building, Board Room