David J. Schmidly

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David James Schmidly (born December 20, 1943) was installed as 20th president of the University of New Mexico on October 7, 2007.[1] On April 22, 2011, Schmidly announced his decision to retire as UNM's President at the end of his five-year contract in 2012.

Previously, Schmidly served as CEO and 17th president of the Oklahoma State University System (2002–2007). Before coming to OSU, he was the President of Texas Tech University, where he also served as Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School.

A native of Levelland, Texas and an accomplished zoologist, he earned his B.S. and M.S. in zoology at Texas Tech University,[2] where he was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity, and his Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Illinois. He has been inducted into the Texas Hall of Fame for Science, Mathematics and Technology and has a species of deer mouse named for him, Peromyscus schmidlyi.


Schmidly was criticized while at OSU for his decision to use eminent domain to raze a low-income neighborhood in Stillwater to build a new athletic village using a gift of $165 million from Boone Pickens. For some in the OSU community, the emphasis that Schmidly placed on athletics far outweighed his concern about academics.[3][4]

The Oklahoma State University Faculty Senate called for Schmidly's resignation over the size of severance packages offered to former staffers from Texas Tech that Schmidly had hired at OSU.[5]

One of Schmidly's first acts as president of the University of New Mexico was to halt an official investigation into complaints of a hostile learning environment in the University's English Department. The investigation involved Associate Professor Lisa D. Chavez, who had been moonlighting as a phone sex worker on various bondage and sadomasochism websites with current and former graduate students. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education,[6] Schmidly authorized the use of an outside attorney, who was tasked with investigating Chavez's complaints against faculty members she accused of discrimination and slander.

At UNM, accusations of cronyism arose within the first 18 months, when he hired long-time friend, John Stropp, a senior executive at the Texas A&M Foundation, with a compensation package of $325,000. According to the Albuquerque Journal, Schmidly acknowledged he has known Stropp for years but said he wasn't hired because of their friendship, saying "This is not a crony hire."[7]

Later that year, on October 16, 2008, the "Albuquerque Journal" reported that UNM had hired Schmidly's son, Brian Schmidly, into a newly created position of Associate Director of Sustainability.[8] Before the son occupied the position, he turned it down due to outcry from the faculty.[9]

On February 7, 2009, the "Albuquerque Journal" reported that the UNM faculty voted 329 to 106 in favor of no confidence in Schmidly, with 52 faculty abstaining.[10]

Also at UNM, on October 25, 2011, Schmidly denied the renewal of a permit for (un)Occupy Albuquerque, a protest movement in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, which had been encamped at Yale Park since October 1.[11] The protesters were subsequently forced out of the park by UNM Police, the Albuquerque Police Department, and New Mexico State Police during the night of October 25, resulting in dozens of arrests as some protesters refused to leave, citing their First Amendment right to "peaceably assemble". Other arrests were made as hundreds of protesters were forced into Central Avenue, which bounds Yale Park on the south. UNM students were among the arrested individuals. At least one UNM student left the University in response to Schmidly's action, citing the denial of First Amendment rights, and several other students, including Sebastian Pais, engaged in a hunger strike to demand that Schmidly allow the protesters to return.[12] Schmidly has also been criticized for closing Yale Park to the public, and ordering UNM Police to arrest any protesters or students who violated the closure. Relenting to pressure from supporters on campus and in the community, including multiple UNM faculty members, on October 26, Schmidly's office issued a new, modified permit which will allow the protesters to return to Yale Park during strictly defined periods.[13]


  1. ^ "Office of the President: About President Schmidly". The University of New Mexico. Retrieved 2009-02-01. 
  2. ^ Chadd Cripe, Brian Murphy (23 May 2010), Meet the Mountain West presidents who may decide Boise State's future, Idaho Statesman, retrieved 1997-06-17  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  3. ^ "No Land Grab". Nolandgrab.org. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  4. ^ Chittum, Ryan (March 30, 2006). "Boone Pickens's Gift To Oklahoma State Sparks Local Rivalry". The Wall Street Journal. 
  5. ^ "USATODAY.com - OSU to pay Texas Tech $40,000 for software use". Usatoday.com. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  6. ^ "In Professor-Dominatrix Scandal, U. of New Mexico Feels the Pain". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  7. ^ UNM Hires Fundraising Chief; Schmidly's Pick Will Earn $325K Albuquerque Journal. Albuquerque, N.M.: May 10, 2008. pg. A.1
  8. ^ "Schmidly's Son Gets $94,000 Job,by Martin Salazar, "Albuquerque Journal" October 16, 2008
  9. ^ Albuquerque Journal, October 23, 2008.
  10. ^ |title=Faculty Decisively Votes No Confidence|work=Albuquerque Journal|author=Martin Salazar|date=2009-02-27|
  11. ^ "UNM Pres. addresses not renewing protesters permit - KRQE News Blog Albuquerque, NM". Blogs.krqe.com. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  12. ^ [1] Archived November 29, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ "University of New Mexico issues (Un)Occupy Albuquerque new permit (Includes interview)". Digitaljournal.com. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
David W. Harris
President of University of New Mexico
2007 – 2012
Succeeded by
To be determined
Preceded by
James Halligan
President of Oklahoma State University
2002 – 2007
Succeeded by
Marlene Strathe
Preceded by
Donald Haragan
President of Texas Tech University
2000 – 2002
Succeeded by
Jon S. Whitmore