NMHU Presidential Search

Official NMHU logo(Updated Dec. 22, 2023)

The New Mexico Highlands University Board of Regents would like to announce that it has started its official Presidential Search for the university’s 23rd president. Our next president will succeed Dr. Sam Minner, who has served as New Mexico Highlands University’s President since 2015.

New Mexico Highlands University Names Dr. Neil Woolf its Next President

Dr. Woolf brings over 22 years of higher education administrative experience to NMHU

Dr. Neil Woolf

LAS VEGAS, NM–The New Mexico Highlands University Board of Regents has selected Dr. Neil Woolf to be the institution’s 19th president. Dr. Woolf has been appointed to a conditional five-year term with an annual salary of $290,000, and he will begin his term once current president Dr. Sam Minner has completed his contract, no later than July 1, 2024.

The Board of Regents unanimously selected Dr. Woolf after weighing input from the NMHU and Las Vegas community and with the assistance of national executive search firm RH Perry & Associates.

Dr. Woolf brings over 22 years of higher education administrative experience to NMHU. He currently serves as the Executive Vice President for Southern Oregon University (SOU), a public university in Ashland, Oregon. He also served SOU as the Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs from 2019-2023. His responsibilities at SOU included legislative engagement, strategic enrollment planning, operational investments and strategic partnerships with business and education leaders, implementation of equity, diversity, and inclusion principles and practices to better serve students, capital projects and planning, and institutional budget management and financial stability.

Dr. Woolf also served as the Enrollment Officer and Interim Assistant Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 2018 and the Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management at Eastern Washington University from 2013-18.

“I am grateful and honored to be able to serve as the president of New Mexico Highlands,” Dr. Woolf said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to build upon the success of our students and the success of the institution. I believe in the mission of New Mexico Highlands, and I know that we will do good work on behalf of the institution and its communities.”

“My wife and I were both overwhelmed by the kindness we experienced in Las Vegas and the level of commitment the community members have for their community, the institution of NMHU, and our students. It’s exactly what we were looking for–a place to call home that has a strong level of commitment to student success.”

NMHU Board of Regents Chairman William E. “Bill” García is pleased with the outcome of the search process and is looking forward to working with Dr. Woolf. “Throughout the interview process, Dr. Woolf demonstrated his strong understanding and support for Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI). His previous work with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) included helping establish the first HSI in Nevada.”

“(Dr. Woolf) was selected because he possesses the best range of experiences and credentials–that’s really what allowed him to emerge from the outstanding candidates in our search,” Garcia said. “The regents were impressed by his experience in recruitment and enrollment and his extensive academic and financial experience.”

Selection Process

Dr. Woolf was selected from a field of over 80 candidates. The Board of Regents charged the search committee and its chairman, Dr. Brandon Kempner, to conduct an open and transparent search that incorporated feedback received from students, staff, faculty, alumni, and the residents of the Las Vegas community, the advice and assistance of RH Perry & Associates, and within the parameters set out by New Mexico state statute.

Hundreds of stakeholders responded to a feedback survey conducted on campus and in the community at the outset of the search.

“The time the committee spent screening, interviewing, and hosting the candidates on campus was invaluable in helping the regents make the best possible selection for Highlands,” Dr. Kempner said. “The Las Vegas community warmly hosted the candidates during the campus interviews and shared their feedback with the regents. All this participation made for a truly inclusive process, and we are extremely optimistic about the future of Highlands.”

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Search Committee

NMHU Presidential Search Committee

The Presidential Search Committee is made up of Highlands’ faculty, students, staff, administrators, alumni, and members of the Las Vegas, N.M. community.

Search Partners

New Mexico Highlands University has retained the services of the RH Perry & Associates search firm to help conduct this presidential search.

Timeline of Events

What is New Mexico Highlands University?

Image of students at the 2023 NMHU graduation ceremonyNew Mexico Highlands University is a public, state-run institution located in Las Vegas, New Mexico, with centers in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Farmington and Roswell, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees. Accreditation information


New Mexico Highlands University is a public comprehensive university serving our local and global communities. Our mission is to provide opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to attain an exceptional education by fostering creativity, critical thinking and research in the liberal arts, sciences, and professions within a diverse community.


Our vision is to be a premier comprehensive university transforming lives and communities now and for generations to come.

Core Values

  • Excellence
  • Diversity
  • Accessibility
  • Responsiveness

For any questions about the search, please email the search committee chair, Dr. Brandon Kempner, at bkempner@nmhu.edu