3 of 4 University of New Mexico health sciences deans depart

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The University of New Mexico has some hiring to do after three of its four Health Sciences Center deans have decided to accept jobs at other colleges.

Deans Lynda Welage and Nancy Ridenour are leaving for the University of Minnesota and Barnes-Jewish College in St. Louis, respectively, and dean Deborah Helitzer is going to Arizona State University, The Albuquerque Journal reported (http://bit.ly/2tjh9sK ).

The last dean remaining, Health Sciences Chancellor and School of Medicine Dean Paul Roth, said the departures are unlike anything he’s ever seen. Roth conducted an exit interview with each of the three women, and none of them had one specific reason for leaving, he said.

“This is the first time we’ve had all of this happening at the same time,” said Roth, who first came to the university in the late 1970s as a medical resident. “We kind of categorize when people leave: Is it that they’re being pushed out of the institution? Or are they being pulled places? And I think it would be very easy to say that in all of these cases, it’s a combination of both.”

Roth said it’s satisfying to see all advance professionally, and that the university has identified capable interim deans to limit any possible disruptions. He aims to hire a new nursing and pharmacy dean before the 2018-19 academic year, though he will likely hold off on a population health leader, he said.

Roth called the rash of losses painful. He said it speaks to larger issues facing the university and New Mexico.

“It’s very hard for an academic or really any kind of executive leader to be in an environment that is so restricted in resources — particularly in the state of New Mexico where the need is so great but the ability to respond effectively to those needs (is) so much less than other states,” he said.

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