Given the exceptionally positive outcome of a comprehensive evaluation process involving over 320 stakeholders, the University of New Mexico Board of Directors unanimously approved the extension of Garnett S. Stokes, UNM President’s contract for an additional three years with an option for an additional one two-year extension by mutual agreement of the Board and the President.
“I am very pleased to announce that we have unanimously agreed to an extension of a five-year contract with an initial three-year negotiation period followed by mutual negotiations for the next two years,” announced Doug Brown, President of the UNM Board of Regents at the start of their Meeting on December 13th. Brown expressed his delight at working with President Stokes and noted the importance of a more than five-year presidential contract at UNM. “We’re at a point where we haven’t been at this university in almost 30 years,” he said, “and we’re very 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 several variables that went into this decision,” she said. “I think we did something very good for this university today.”
Regent Sandra Begay also praised the process and emphasized the importance of hearing many voices. She said of President Stokes: “She is doing an incredible job. I believe in her, I trust her. And the community has that trust. We really support our President and I am proud to know her as a person.”
In the first five years of Stokes’ leadership, the university has: Increased research funding by 32% and generated nearly $1.5 billion; launched UNM’s Grand Challenges, raised more than $50 million in outside funding from an initial investment of $2.1 million, and continued to improve life in the state of New Mexico; Expanded diversity, equal opportunity and inclusion initiatives and significantly increased the diversity of incoming college students; laid the groundwork for a crucial new school of public health; saw 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 through 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 receive such a distinction.
Stokes expressed her joy and excitement at continuing in her role as head of New Mexico’s flagship university. “My husband Jeff and I appreciate the support and trust of the UNM community. I am especially grateful for the combined efforts and dedication of our faculty, staff and outstanding leadership team in serving our students and New Mexico,” said Stokes. “I am encouraged that our Regents are inspired by the strong momentum we have at the university to the New Mexico. I look forward to building on this energy to enrich the Lobo experience for years to come, and continue to be honored to be your President.”
Throughout her distinguished career as an educator and leader, Stokes has been recognized for her dedication to building outstanding leadership teams dedicated to student success. At UNM, she has continued this tradition, hiring diverse and talented leaders from across the country to fill key positions at the university. “I really appreciate what President Stokes has done over the past five years and see the stability it has brought to the university,” said Regent Bill Payne. “And one thing that I really want to commend them for is that their leaders across the university have been exceptional. I think the people she hired reflect her ability as a strong leader.”
In addition to her role as UNM President, Stokes currently serves on the board of directors of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU); as Chairman 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 honorary commander of 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 term 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 served as Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and interim president at Florida State University. She was also a faculty member, chief of the Department of Psychology, and Dean of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Georgia.
Stokes, a first-generation college graduate, earned her BA in psychology from Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee, and MS and Ph.D. University of Georgia degrees in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. She was a professor in the University of Georgia’s Department of Psychology for nearly three decades, including seven years as Dean of UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
her husband, dr. Jeff Younggren, is a forensic psychologist and retired US Army Colonel. They have two children and four grandchildren. Stokes and Dr. Younggren live on campus in University House.