Faculty, staff and students from across the New Mexico State University system gathered on the main campus Thursday afternoon to celebrate the inauguration of Chancellor Dan Arvizu and President John Floros, who both encouraged others to, “Be bold. Shape the future.”
Thursday’s inauguration was emceed by Channel 7-KVIA anchor Hilary Floren and attended by New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima, Alamogordo Mayor Richard Boss, members of the NMSU Board of Regents, retired New Mexico state representative and teacher J. Paul Taylor, and former chair of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission Joshua Epel, who delivered the keynote speech. The ceremony also featured a blessing by members of the Tortugas Pueblo tribal group and performances by the NMSU Sol y Arena flamenco dance group, the NMSU Wind Symphony and the NMSU Chamber Singers.
“This is such an exciting time for our great university,” said NMSU Board of Regents Chair Debra Hicks. “The future of higher education requires leaders with forward thinking, leaders who can prepare this university for the challenges we face today and in the future. Those leaders are here with us today.”
Student success is the most important of the strategic objectives developed by Arvizu and Floros, including effectively growing and shaping diverse enrollment, supporting academic program demands as well as student retention and producing highly qualified graduates. Enrollment, retention, graduation and job placement rates have all been identified as key metrics associated with student success.
“Be bold. Shape the future. This is an apt phrase for the president of NMSU,” said April Mason, the university’s new interim provost, as she introduced Floros. “He will help shape the future by bringing the best minds together and using synergy to make plans and help implement them.”
“This is a great occasion for me,” Floros told the audience at Thursday’s inauguration. “Family is important, and community is important. We have to work together as a family. I came here because I felt that welcoming spirit. I’m here because I know this university makes a big difference in people’s lives. I’m here because I truly believe in this institution. I truly think this is a special place.”
During his speech, Epel called Arvizu, “a man of vision, a man of action and a very fine human being. What more could you ask of a leader?”
In addition to improving student success, Arvizu and Floros plan to emphasize research and creativity, outreach and strategic initiatives, financial stewardship, fundraising and foundation relations, leadership and organizational effectiveness, athletics and board relations.
“At NMSU, I see my responsibility as chancellor as helping shape the mindset of individuals and the community that we serve,” Arvizu said. “What I see for New Mexico State is that we must be a catalyst for change. We need to clearly define who we are as an institution, and focus on excellence in research to solve global grand challeges.”
ASNMSU president Emerson Morrow said he is impressed by the willingness of both Floros and Arvizu to listen to students.
“Their student-centric mindset is completely appropriate and a great thing to have at NMSU,” Morrow said. “It will take bold, compassionate leadership to shape the future.”
Arvizu is the university’s second chancellor, and Floros is NMSU’s 28th president. Arvizu, a native of Alamogordo, New Mexico, earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from NMSU in 1973. In 2005, he was appointed the eighth director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, and became the first Hispanic lab director in the history of any of the 17 U.S. DOE’s national labs. He retired in December 2015 and is currently director emeritus. He was appointed in 2004 by President George W. Bush to serve on the National Science Board for a six-year term, and was subsequently reappointed by President Barack Obama in 2010. He was the first Hispanic chair of the National Science Board, which was founded in 1950, and was twice elected NSB chair by his peers, testifying annually on the National Science Foundation’s budget before Congress. Arvizu has served various roles at Emerson Collective including chief technology officer, STEM evangelist and senior adviser.
Prior to his arrival at NMSU, Floros, a native of Greece, was dean of the College of Agriculture and director of K-State Research and Extension, where he led the development of a College of Agriculture strategic plan for Vision 2025, guided the college to record student enrollments, retention and graduation, and nearly 100 percent placement. Under his leadership the College of Agriculture established the first ever NSF-supported Center on Wheat Genomics; and four new Feed-the-Future Labs from USAID on wheat, sorghum and millet, postharvest loss reduction, and sustainable intensification, for a total investment of more than $100 million in five years. He earned his Ph.D. in food science and technology from the University of Georgia. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in food science and technology from the Agricultural University of Athens, Greece.