Elizabeth (Libby) Rodke Washburn will step down as UNM President Garnett S. Stokes’ chief of staff and the University’s chief compliance officer effective Aug. 31. She was appointed chief compliance officer in September 2016, and later tapped to take on the chief of staff position by interim President Choauki Abdallah in January 2017. Washburn will join her husband, former Dean of UNM School of Law Kevin Washburn, at the University of Iowa where he was selected as Dean of the College of Law earlier this year. 

“I want to thank Libby for her immediate and unwavering support, integrity and leadership as I came in as president,” said Stokes. “Libby is one of the hardest-working people that we have at The University of New Mexico.” 

On a personal level, Stokes said she would, “Greatly miss her thoughtful advice and vision for a better UNM.”

With the departure of Washburn, President Stokes has announced interim appointments within the Office of the President for three current UNM administrators, effective Sept. 1:

Terry Babbitt, Ph.D., will be interim chief of staff. He will focus on the internal aspects of the position which include the management of the Office of the President and liaising with the following offices: Finance and Budget, Human Resources, Athletics (internal), Internal Audit, Academic Affairs, HSC, Compliance and the Office of University Counsel. Babbitt has more than 25years of experience in public higher education with emphasis on enrollment services including admissions, registration and financial aid. His institutional responsibility of chief enrollment officer includes providing leadership for optimizing student success, enrollment and revenue. Babbitt will retain his duties as vice provost of enrollment and analytics.

Cinnamon Blair, M.S., will be interim deputy chief of staff. She will focus on the external aspects of the position, which include the president’s communications, university naming committee, strategic community engagement, EVP searches, and liaising with the following offices: Athletics (external), Alumni Relations, Ombuds and the UNM Foundation. Blair has over 20 years of experience in New Mexico’s public sector in strategic communications, marketing, public relations and media relations, 15 of which have been at UNM. She has worked under the Office of the President for 11 years and is responsible for the strategic planning and implementation of institutional communications, media relations, marketing and web communication functions in an effort to advance the academic reputation and overall brand of the University. Blair will retain her duties as chief marketing and communications officer.

Francie Cordova, J.D., will be interim chief compliance officer. She will assume the administration and oversight of the Department of Justice (DOJ) agreement with UNM. Cordova has more than 20 years of experience in compliance, program oversight and labor law having worked as assistant attorney general, director for the state Labor Relations Division and was assistant chief counsel for the California state hospital system. She will continue as director of OEO where she is in charge of all EEO initiatives and serves as the University ADA coordinator.  

“There is a lot of momentum right now as the semester is about to begin, as well as a lot of transition,” said Stokes. “I have worked with these individuals over the past several months and feel confident that their exceptional levels of expertise and institutional knowledge will prove invaluable to advancing our initiatives and mission.”

Stokes stated that she is evaluating the administrative structure both for her office and the University, as recent retirements and resignations of senior administrators have created an opportunity for her to examine and optimize how UNM operates at the highest levels. 

Stokes is no stranger to selecting new leadership. She has been credited with leaving a legacy of academic leadership at the University of Missouri after hiring nine of twelve deans during her tenure there as provost. 

“While we will be losing some outstanding talent, I am looking forward to building an effective and dynamic team and hiring the right people for the job,” said Stokes. “We will be setting some ambitious goals and I will need the best possible team in place.”