Administration fills executive position

Ryane Hatten

With Randy Kirkpatrick’s retirement, the university welcomed a new executive position. David Sanchez, new chief information officer, joined university faculty after serving more than 25 years in various information technology positions at the University of New Mexico. He will be accompanied by his wife, Karen, after his youngest son, Joshua, graduates from high school this May. 

According to Vice President of Administration and Finance Marilyn Fowlé, there is a standard process in selecting a candidate to fulfill an executive-level position.

“The chief information officer is one of our highest level positions. We normally do a national search and post it on our website. Once it’s posted, we have a committee appointed made up of people from around the campus including faculty and staff,” Fowlé said. “But once they narrow the pool down, phone interviews and ratings on each candidate begin. From that, they discuss and choose to bring the three top scoring candidates to campus. The candidates then go through a series of meetings with the president, the committee and myself. This process is pretty standard for all of our executive-level positions.”

Fowlé said she prefers to stay out of the hiring process, from the standpoint that she wants the committee to come up with a list of recommendations themselves. 

“Based on feedback, I know what both the president and cabinet think about the candidates, and from that information, I make my decision about who I want to give the position,” Fowlé said.

Although various things interested Sanchez about this position, the energy on campus is what intrigued him in making the decision to join the Mustangs.

“I came from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where I worked in various IT positions for about 26 years. I started looking for jobs in Texas and it just so happened this position came up. After visiting the campus, I got a good feel for what the rest of the university thought about IT, and everything I heard from the leadership was great,” Sanchez said. “The staff here is very helpful, accommodating, and service-orientated. I wanted to come to a place where it would be challenging and I could be innovative to impact students, teaching, and learning. It’s a great school here and I thought it was a good opportunity to take this job.”

Amongst the other candidates, Fowlé believes Sanchez was the best fit for the job and has potential to make a special impact at the university. 

“He’s worked a lot on the instructional technology and service side of the house. Sanchez is just a very warm, friendly guy that’s extremely dedicated to his job. I also like the fact that he had academic computing skills. He’s bringing this whole new aspect of leadership that I think will really benefit the students and faculty,” Fowlé said.

According to Sanchez, he’s always had a great passion for technology and believes he’s lucky enough to pursue a career that impacts teaching and learning.

“I was going to law school back in the day and it didn’t work out so I decided not to continue. But I think that I’ve always been interested in technology in regards to computing, data, and research,” Sanchez said. “That’s just sort of my mentality to work with gadgets and any other kinds of technology. Luckily, I was fortunate and able to do innovative things in my career.  We’re here for the students regardless of the size of the university. So, providing them with that level of skills in classes is important so they’re able to contribute that into their future careers.”

Sanchez says his work is pretty complex. He’s responsible for all things regarding IT at the university, including computer classrooms, labs, faculty/staff machines, IT infrastructure, telephones, wireless access points around campus, and student service tools. 

“My department is responsible for supporting and updating those systems. Regardless of the heavy work load, I try my best to deliver my technical skills, great passion, and ability to partner well with others in my job.” 

In the short time Sanchez has been at the university, he said he’s becoming comfortable in his new setting and plans to get up-to-speed sooner to provide value back to the university. 

“The people here are really hospitable and friendly so I’ve felt very welcomed,” Sanchez said. “Coming into any new job is a little apprehensive, but I was extremely surprised by how smooth my arrival has been. There’s a lot going on this week because I’m still in the process of getting more information and trying to build. I have a strategy for doing that, but I’m just trying to get settled in now.”

Although the transition from Albuquerque to Wichita Falls is still a work in progress, he said the biggest challenge is that his family hasn’t joined him yet. 

“I’ve only been here a week but Albuquerque is a much larger city compared to Wichita Falls,” Sanchez said. “The University of New Mexico has 27,000 students, so it’s a much bigger university than Midwestern. I’m still adjusting to Wichita Falls, but one thing that I enjoy is the greater access to water compared to where I came from. Also, the smaller town has a good feel; I haven’t been as involved in the community, but it is my hope to do so.”