Valdez resigns as chancellor of UNM-Taos

Patrick L. Valdez, Ph.D., Chancellor, UNM-Taos Courtesy

The University of New Mexico-Taos recently announced that the Chancellor Search Committee had identified three candidates for the role of chancellor. The finalists are Mary Gutierrez, Robin Kuykendall and Christopher Villa.

The search for a new chancellor comes after Patrick Valdez stepped down effective Dec. 31, 2020. Cindy Rooney has served as interim chancellor of UNM-Taos, while continuing her role as chancellor of UNM-Los Alamos.

A short biography of each of the three finalists is below.

Mary Gutierrez

Mary Gutierrez currently serves as the vice president of instruction at Diablo Valley College in California, where she provides leadership and administrative oversight to the college's instructional programs, including curriculum, academic departments, learning resources, career and technical education, distance education and continuing education.

Prior to joining Diablo Valley College, Gutierrez served as dean of language arts at Skyline College in California, and as associate dean of student learning at Cascadia College in Washington.

Gutierrez earned a doctorate in educational leadership from San Francisco State University, where she has also served as an instructor. She holds a master of arts and a bachelor of arts in English from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She is a graduate of Las Cruces High School in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Robin Kuykendall

Robin Kuykendall currently serves as the associate vice president of enrollment management and student affairs, and as the associate vice president for strategic initiatives and innovation at Clovis Community College in New Mexico. There, she provides leadership in both academic and student affairs, including career technical education, dual credit and early college high school initiatives, program evaluation and development, assessment of student learning, strategic planning, enrollment management and community partnerships.

Kuykendall has served as a full-time faculty member in the business administration department, and also served as interim president at CCC during its search for a new president in 2019.

Kuykendall earned a doctorate of education in organizational leadership with an emphasis in higher education leadership from Grand Canyon University. She also earned a master's degree in business administration and a bachelor's degree in business administration and marketing from Eastern New Mexico University.

Christopher Villa

Christopher Villa is the former president of Portland Community College-Rock Creek, where he led the college in support of the Yes to Equitable Student Success (YESS) Initiative that established an equitable student success framework with a focus on cultural competency in the classroom, and strategic programming designed to improve student outcomes and close opportunity gaps.

Villa led the effort to expand partnerships with Caterpillar and Peterson CAT to support the Peterson CAT Think Big Program, resulting in the construction of an electric power generation facility at the PCC-Rock Creek campus. He also expanded dual enrollment efforts with K-12 school superintendents and oversaw an early college high school on PCC's campus.

Villa is a part-time faculty member in the educational leadership and policy studies department at California State University-Northridge, and has taught doctoral and masters level courses to practicing college administrators, faculty and staff.

Presentations to the public

Gutierrez, Kuykendall and Villa have been invited to visit the UNM-Taos and UNM-Albuquerque campuses between May 10-20. Each candidate will hold a presentation open to UNM-Taos staff, students and faculty, and will also hold a presentation for the greater public, including members of the Taos community and the entire UNM community. Once the candidates have made their presentations, recordings will be available for viewing online.

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