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Tech Vice President Dr. Ricardo Maestas Named President of University In Texas

SOCORRO, N.M. August 27, 2009 – Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, announced this week that Dr. Ricardo Maestas has been selected for its presidency.

Dr. Maestas has served four years as the Vice President for Student and University Relations and Dean of Students at the New Mexico Tech.

Maestas was selected by a majority vote of the Board of Regents of the Texas State University System at its August 21 meeting on the Sul Ross campus.

“I am delighted and humbled that I have been selected,” Maestas said. “During my visit, I was truly impressed by the amount of dedicated faculty, staff and administration who really care about this institution. The students as well really impressed me with their concerns and the level of questions that they asked. Sul Ross is a diamond in the rough. With the right polishing and leadership, it can really move forward.”

New Mexico Tech President Dr. Daniel H. Lopez said Dr. Maestas has provided excellent service to the university and will be missed.

“Dr. Maestas has reorganized the Student and University Relations unit to more directly reflect the needs of the students,” Lopez said. “His emphasis has been on getting the best and most effective services that money can afford for all students.”

Lopez said Maestas has also been very successful in attracting millions of external dollars to expand or create programs and develop partnerships with other universities.

Maestas has an extensive track record in fund-raising, including grant, contract and private resource development, and has a number of publications and research presentations to his credit. He has worked extensively at New Mexico Tech on improving student retention, including statistical analysis about factors that prompt students to leave and developing methods of addressing those issues.

“Dr. Maestas has contributed in a very significant way in trying to identify the reasons why students fail to persist in the higher education setting, particularly at New Mexico Tech,” Lopez said. “His careful and scholarly work on identifying the attributes that mark students for success or failure are very revealing and helpful in improving our persistence and graduate rates. His work has broader implications that can be of use to other universities across the country.”

Maestas will be eligible to assume the presidency 21 days after the contractual offer is made and accepted. He will succeed Dr. R. Vic Morgan, who retires August 31 after 19 years as Sul Ross president. Dr. David Cockrum, Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, will serve as interim president.

Morgan said, “I am pleased. The Regents have made a good choice.” Morgan was the 10th president of Sul Ross State, which was founded in 1917.

“Dr. Morgan will leave a very strong legacy and it will be difficult to fill his shoes,” Maestas said.

Regents at Sul Ross said Maestas’ credentials set him apart from other candidates.

“We have great expectations. We think Maestas is going to be a wonderful ambassador for Sul Ross,” said Regent Trisha Pollard, chair of the search committee. “I think he will really be the one to fit in best with the university, the community and the culture of Sul Ross.”

Regent Michael Truncale said he is convinced that Dr. Maestas is the right fit for this university. Regents chair Ron Blatchley said Sul Ross State’s exhaustive search produced a clear winner and a marvelous choice to lead the university.

Maestas has served as vice president at New Mexico Tech since 2005. He is also an associate professor in the Department of Psychology and Education. He received a bachelor’s in psychology and Spanish in 1974 and a master’s in teaching in 1977, both from the University of New Mexico. He earned his doctorate from the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Michigan in 2000.

His career in education began in 1974 at the University of New Mexico, teaching Spanish courses for native-speaking undergraduates. He served as assistant to the director of the Office of Admissions and Records at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign; director of Hispanic Affairs at the Ohio State University; administrative intern in the Office of the President at the University of New Mexico; director of Minority Engineering Programs and project director of Minority Engineering, Mathematics and Science Program at the University of New Mexico; professional intern and research assistant at the University of Michigan. After earning his doctorate in 2000, he returned to the University of New Mexico, where he held a number of positions including Associate Vice President for Student Services.

Dr. Maestas was one of four finalists for the position. Other finalists were Dr. Cheri A. Jimeno, President of New Mexico State University-Alamogordo; Dr. Jaime Chahin of Texas State University-San Marcos; and Dr. William R. Fannin, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and at the University of Texas-Permian Basin in Odessa.  A total of 62 candidates applied for the position.

Sul Ross State University was created by an act of the 35th Legislature in 1917 as a state normal college to train teachers. The school is named for Lawrence Sullivan Ross, who was the governor of Texas from 1887 to 1891 and president of Texas A&M College from 1891 to 1898.

Sul Ross State has about 1,850 students, including undergraduate and master’s students. The university offers liberal arts curricula in agriculture, arts and sciences, and professional studies such as business, criminal justice, education and nursing.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech