April 13, 2017


ENMU Selects New President

PORTALES—At its meeting yesterday on the Portales campus, the Eastern New Mexico University Board of Regents selected Jeff Elwell, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, as the new president of the ENMU system, which includes campuses in Portales, Roswell and Ruidoso.

He becomes ENMU’s 10th president since its 1934 opening.  Elwell will replace Steven Gamble, who has been president since 2001 and will retire at the end of July.

Elwell’s contract is for three years at $230,000 per year.

In accepting the appointment by phone, Elwell said, “I am thrilled and excited beyond belief.  I look forward to leading Eastern New Mexico University, all campuses, into the next decade.

“I want to especially thank everyone who was involved in the on-campus and off-campus process for their hospitality, warmth and charm.  You did a wonderful job.

“I’m looking forward to this next exciting phase of my life, and so is my wife, Edwina, and two rescue dogs, Molly and Mindy.”

There were more than 75 applicants for the job, and 200 plus comments from students, faculty, staff and community members from all three campuses.

Ten candidates were interviewed by the search committee, before narrowing the pool to five finalists for on-campus interviews.

Sandra K. Woodley, a consultant with Kentucky State University, dropped out after accepting the presidency at the University of Texas Permian Basin.  Other finalists were John Fritch, dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Science at the University of Northern Iowa; Charles Crespy, dean of the College of Business Administration at Central Michigan University; and Neal Weaver, vice president for Advancement and Innovation at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana.


Since 2012, Elwell has served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. Prior to this, he was provost and special assistant to the chancellor for strategic initiatives at Auburn University from 2010 to 2012. From 2004 to 2010, Elwell served as the founding dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication at East Carolina University.

He chaired the Department of Theatre Arts at the University of Nebraska from 1999-2004 and at Marshall University (1996-99).

Elwell holds a Ph.D. in speech communication/theatre from Southern Illinois University, a master’s degree in communication/theatre from the University of Southwestern Louisiana, and a bachelor’s in English from California State University-Bakersfield.