“Faculty members and students at the University of Texas at El Paso are raising concerns about the sole finalist chosen to be their next president, saying both the candidate and the process deserve more scrutiny.
At an institution where 80 percent of students are Latinx and another 4 percent are Mexican nationals, the University of Texas System Board of Regents' choice of Heather Wilson -- a white Republican former congresswoman and Trump-appointed U.S. Air Force secretary -- is generating resistance.
“They just didn’t give a damn about the interests and the values of the student body at the university -- and the population at large here in El Paso,” said Oscar Martinez, a retired history professor.
The opening for a new president comes as UTEP’s longtime leader, Diana Natalicio, 79, prepares to step down later this year, after 31 years on the job.
Wilson’s nomination as UTEP’s next president could be approved as early as March 29. In the meantime, her first appearance on campus last week generated student protests, and a Change.org petition that asks the regents to remove Wilson as finalist has garnered more than 9,000 signatures.
Faculty say they weren’t consulted on the decision and question what they call a secretive selection process. UTEP’s Faculty Senate has yet to formally interview Wilson or any of the other three purported semifinalists, and faculty members said they are in the dark not just about who made it that far, but about how the committee chose Wilson, a former defense and security consultant who represented central New Mexico for a decade in Congress. Wilson admits she didn’t set foot on the El Paso campus until earlier this month.” Continue reading