Dr. James Fries began his tenure as New Mexico Highlands' 17th president in January 2007, bringing more than 24 years of successful higher education administration experience to the university.
Most recently, Dr. Fries held the position of executive director of GROW SFCC, the fundraising arm of Santa Fe Community College. From 2001 to 2002, he was interim president at New Mexico Highlands. Dr. Fries is president emeritus at the College of Santa Fe, having served as president/CEO from 1986 to 2000. He also served as acting vice president for administration at South Dakota State University (1985-1986), and senior development officer and assistant to the president/director of development at Northern State College in Aberdeen, South Dakota (1978-1985).
Dr. Fries received his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Iowa in 1969, an M.S. in physical chemistry from the University of Iowa in 1968, and his B.S. in chemical education from the University of South Dakota in 1965. He began his teaching career as a teaching and research assistant at the University of Iowa, and, from 1969-78, was a professor of chemistry at Northern State College, where, among other things, he introduced a new environmental science major and an M.S. in natural science teaching.
In the past, he has served as vice president of both Santa Fe Economic Development and the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce. In 2002, Dr. Fries served as co-chair of then Governor-Elect Bill Richardson’s Higher Education Transition Team.
Dr. Fries has worked with several national and local nonprofit, educational, and community organizations. These include the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities’ Minority Institutions Task Force, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities’ (HACU) Public Policy Committee, Golden Apple Foundation Board of Directors, the Council of Independent Colleges and Universities of New Mexico, and the Santa Fe Symphony.