Balderas promises to fight for resources to ensure student success
The Northern New Mexico College Board of Regents voted unanimously on Thursday, November 17, to offer New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas the position as Northern’s next president.
“We are very excited to have President Balderas with us, wish him the best and welcome him into our family,” said NNMC Board President Michael Martin.
Balderas was one of four finalists for the positions. The other finalists were New Mexico Higher Education Department Deputy Secretary Patricia Trujillo, Dalton State College Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Bruno G. Hicks and Dr. E. Yueh-Ting “Y-T” Lee, Professor/Director of Applied Psychology and Faculty Senate President at Southern Illinois University. Another finalist, Dr. David L. Johns, President of Ferrum College in Virginia, withdrew from the search last month.
“I’m inspired that the community was involved in the selection process—they have hope for change, and I am honored that the regents, faculty and staff will partner with me as we take Northern New Mexico College into the future, building on student success and institutional development,” Balderas said in a statement.
Balderas is currently serving his second term as New Mexico’s Attorney General, after two terms as NM State Auditor. He was elected to a seat in the N.M. House of Representatives at age 29 and spent two years as Bernalillo County Assistant District Attorney.
During interviews, Balderas spoke passionately about how much higher education had changed his life. He was raised by a single mother in the village of Wagon Mound, New Mexico, growing up in public housing and on food stamps. He said he was one of those students not expected to succeed. He overcame those obstacles to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from New Mexico Highlands University and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of New Mexico Law School. Balderas said he sees himself in Northern’s students and promised to fight for more resources to support their success.
Balderas cited his experience managing large state agencies, working with the legislature and his ability to build coalitions and bring opposing constituencies together as resources he would bring to the position.
The Board of Regents will now open negotiations with Balderas to determine a compensation and benefits package and the scope of duties in his new role. Once contract negotiations are completed successfully, the board will hold a special session to approve the contract and formally confirm Balderas as Northern’s next president.