The University of Texas-Pan American continued its search for the next campus leader as it welcomed its third presidential candidate Monday, Sept. 21.
Dr. Waded Cruzado, executive vice president and provost at New Mexico State University, was the third of four presidential candidates to visit with UTPA students, faculty and staff during a daylong schedule of forums, meetings and lunches.
Cruzado, who took part in two open forums where she took questions from an audience made up of primarily faculty and staff, is no stranger to UTPA as in June 2006 she interviewed for the provost/vice president for Academic Affairs position, which is currently held by Dr. Paul Sale.
During the morning forum at the Student Union Theater, Cruzado shared with the audience stories about her childhood and how she went from living in Puerto Rico, the "Island of Enchantment" to New Mexico, the "Land of Enchantment." She touted her interactions with people while growing up led her to a life in academia.
"I really loved interacting with people and that is why I decided to devote my entire life to the classroom. I never anticipated that I would end up in administration. That was not my goal. That was not my career path. That is how life just happened," she said.
Born in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, Cruzado served as NMSU's interim president from August 2008 to June 2009 and under her tenure managed to register the highest student enrollment ever of 31,300 at the only land-grant, Carnegie Research I-Extensive, and Hispanic Serving Institution in the nation.
In addition, she obtained full funding for enrollment growth from the state legislative session and raised more than $11 million in private funds toward the university's Comprehensive Campaign during hard economic times. As interim president she also obtained full-term reaccreditation of the university by the Higher Learning Commission (HCL) for the first time in NMSU history.
While interim president she also brought in $33 million in capital projects and increased sponsored research awards by 9.2 percent, from $152 to $166 million. When her interim president tenure was complete she returned to her executive vice president and provost post, which she has held since September 2007.
Cruzado said she considers her administrative style to be transparent and communicative. As interim president she initiated a "Monday Morning Memo" method of communicating regularly with students, faculty, staff and alumni, which proved to be successful as she was bombarded by e-mails from inside the NMSU community and the outside public she said.
"What that did was that people immediately started corresponding with me. They knew that I was accessible and they knew with the Monday Morning Memo I had opened that door to say that you can come directly to me," she said.
As executive vice president and provost, Cruzado provided leadership during the HCL accreditation visit in 2008, increased student retention to 78 percent, the highest percentage in New Mexico, allocated 30 new faculty lines based on performance measures, and improved graduation rates.
Cruzado earned her Ph.D. in Humanities and Master of Arts from The University of Texas at Arlington. She received her Bachelor of Arts in comparative literature from the University of Puerto Rico.
The final presidential candidate is scheduled to visit UTPA Wednesday, Sept. 23.
Members of the UTPA community are encouraged to share their perspectives and comments on each candidate by e-mailing UTPAFeedback@storbeckpimentel.com. This address will accept feedback until the end of the day on Friday, Sept. 25.
To learn more about the UTPA presidential search, visit www.utpa.edu/about/presidentialsearch.