Noting the exceptionally positive outcome of a comprehensive evaluation process that included over 320 stakeholders, The University of New Mexico Board of Regents unanimously approved to extend the contract of Garnett S. Stokes, UNM president, for an additional three-year term, with an option for an additional two-year extension at the mutual agreement of the Board and the President.
“I am so pleased to report that we have unanimous approval of an extension of a five-year contract with a three-year initial period of mutual negotiation followed by a mutual negotiation for the next two years,” announced UNM Board of Regents President Doug Brown at the beginning of their December 13 meeting. Brown went on to express his delight in working with President Stokes and noted the significance of a presidential contract at UNM extending beyond five years. “We are at a point where we have not been in almost 30 years at this university,” he said, “and are so pleased that we are doing so.”
The amended contract increases Stokes’ total annual compensation from $601,000 to $662,000.
Regent Kim Sanchez-Rael described what she called “an extensive collaborative input and evaluation process…There was a very thorough review of multiple variables that went into this decision,” she said. “I think we've done something that's very good for this university today.”
Regent Sandra Begay also lauded the process and emphasized the importance of hearing many voices. Of President Stokes, she said, “She’s doing an incredible job. I believe in her, I trust her. And the community has that trust. We really support our president and I'm proud to know her as a person.”
During the first five years of Stokes’ leadership, the University has: increased research funding by 32%, generating nearly $1.5 billion; launched UNM’s Grand Challenges, bringing in more than $50 million in external funding from a $2.1 million initial investment and continuing to improve lives around the State of New Mexico; expanded diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, and significantly increased the diversity of incoming first-year students; laid the groundwork for a critical new school of public health; seen its Consolidated Investment Fund (CIF) grow to nearly $600 million while raising a record $125 million in private support in FY21-22; and successfully navigated the COVID-19 pandemic. UNM has also received the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, which indicates institutional commitment to community engagement and is one of only 119 institutions to earn such a designation.
Stokes expressed her pleasure and excitement to be continuing her role as the leader of New Mexico’s flagship university. “My husband Jeff and I appreciate the support and confidence from the UNM community. I am especially grateful for the collective efforts and dedication of our faculty, staff, and our outstanding leadership team in service to our students and New Mexico,” said Stokes. “I am encouraged that our Regents are inspired by the strong momentum we have at The University for New Mexico. I am looking forward to building on that energy to enrich the Lobo experience in the years to come, and it continues to be my great honor to serve as your president.”
Throughout her distinguished career as an educator and leader, Stokes has been praised for her commitment to building outstanding leadership teams dedicated to student success. At UNM, she has continued in this tradition, hiring diverse and talented leaders from across the nation to fill key roles at the university. “I really appreciate what President Stokes has done over the last five years and seeing the stability she's brought to the University,” said Regent Bill Payne. “And one thing I really want to commend her on is her executive staff throughout the university has been exceptional. I think the people she hired reflects on her ability as a strong leader.”
In addition to her role as UNM President, Stokes currently serves on the Governing Board of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU); as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Mountain West Conference; on the board of the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities; on the Board of Trustees of the Universities Research Association (URA), and as Vice Chair of the URA Council of Presidents; as an Honorary Commander, Kirtland Air Force Base; as a board member for the United Way of Central New Mexico; and a core member of the City of Albuquerque’s Homeless Coordinating Council.
Stokes began her tenure as UNM’s 23rd president on March 1, 2018. Prior to her arrival at UNM, Stokes served as interim chancellor, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Missouri, and was provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and interim president at Florida State University. She has also been a faculty member, head of the department of psychology, and dean of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Georgia.
A first-generation college graduate, Stokes earned her B.A. in psychology from Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Georgia in industrial/organizational psychology. For nearly three decades, she served as a professor in the psychology department at the University of Georgia, including seven years as dean of UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
Her husband, Dr. Jeff Younggren, is a forensic psychologist and a retired Colonel in the U.S. Army. They have two children and four grandchildren. Stokes and Dr. Younggren reside on campus at University House.