LAS CRUCES - New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez accused state legislators of trying to "subvert the constitution" by asking the NMSU Board of Regents to extend NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruther's contract.
"I don't think the politicians should subvert the constitution by trying to get involved in something that obviously Chancellor Carruthers chose for himself and his family - to go ahead and resign," Martinez told ABC-7 following an event in Santa Teresa.
The 77-year-old current chancellor has held many positions at the university, including the roles of student, dean and president. He was also a two-term republican governor of New Mexico.
However, since he announced his retirement in early August, several democrats in the state legislature have asked why the NMSU Board of Regents did not extend his contract.
Several weeks ago, State Sen. Mary Kay Papen told ABC-7 that she was shocked to hear the news of his retirement.
"(It's) just appalling, and I have to say I have a real heartburn over it as do many of the other legislators, and I think many of the students as well," Papen said. "So I’m disappointed and I don’t know what else basically say except that I think that this is absolutely not smart.”
"Carruthers has stayed the longest," said State Rep. Bill McCamley, who represents district 33 in New Mexico. "He's brought stability to an institution that didn't have it for about twenty years, and that means something and it's important. So if you're doing a good job and people want to see you stay in the town, why is he then being fired?"
Carruthers released a statement today that reads in part:
"Since this announcement, concerns have been expressed across the state about the need for stable leadership of NMSU and the importance of continuing the good work now underway. While I am grateful for the outpouring of support, I recognize the decision about the extension of my contract belongs to the Regents. Should they change their minds, I am willing to serve. If not, I will honor their decision and work diligently over the course of the next 10 months to continue to advance this great institution and its teaching, research, and service mission."
ABC-7 also asked Governor Martinez whether she would be interested in being the next chancellor of NMSU.
"Oh no," Martinez said. "No, no, no. I am not interested in being a chancellor or president of any university."
Carruthers' last day at NMSU will be July 1st, 2018.