Reno/Las Vegas - The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (New Mexico Tech), located in Socorro, New Mexico, announced this week that DRI president, Dr. Stephen G. Wells, has been selected as the university’s 16th president. He will take office on July 1, 2016.
Founded in 1889 as the New Mexico School of Mines, Tech is a public-supported university ranked by Newsweek as one of the best small science and engineering schools in North America. The school’s well-known areas of teaching and research include engineering, physical and biological sciences. New Mexico Tech has more than 120 academic faculty, over 900 support staff, and approximately 2,100 students, including 550 graduate students.
Dr. Wells has served as DRI President since 1999, prior to which he was Executive Director of DRI’s Quaternary Sciences Center for four years. Formerly, he was a professor of Geomorphology and chair of the graduate program in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of California, Riverside.
He currently serves on the boards of the Nevada Center of Excellence, DRI Research Parks, Ltd., Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN), Nevada Development Authority, and Gathering Genius, Inc.
“Dr. Wells understands how universities fit in with the community, state, national and international environments – and with other universities, community colleges and K-12,” said New Mexico Tech Board of Regents Chair Deborah Peacock.” Student Regent Myissa Weiss added, “He seems like a president who can really inspire something in people, come up with ideas and get people to rally around… I feel like he will be an extraordinary president.”
Dr. Wells began his academic career as a professor at the University of New Mexico in 1976 and ultimately served as chair of the Department of Geology from 1989 to 1991. He has a B.S. (Geology) from Indiana University as well as a M.S. and Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Cincinnati. In 2007, he received distinguished alumni awards from the Department of Geology at Indiana University and from the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Cincinnati.
He has held visiting appointments with the U.S. Air Force Office of Research, U.S. Geological Survey, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the University of Liverpool; as well as established consulting relationships with numerous federal agencies and private companies including the U.S. Department of Justice, Sandia National Laboratories, and environmental and geotechnical firms in the western U.S.
“The trustees of the DRI Foundation are honored to have known and worked closely with Dr. Wells for many years,” said Chuck Creigh, chair of the DRI Foundation. “He has defined DRI as one of the worlds leading research organizations and maintained the Institute’s national stature in the top tier of environmental research institutions ranked by the National Science Foundation.
“Under his leadership DRI has come to define what higher education in our state is all about – cutting edge research, applied science that makes a lasting impact, and top tier education from the best and brightest minds. Dr. Wells’ efforts have ensured DRI’s place in higher education for many years to come and we wish him well in his new endeavor.”
Dr. Wells helped build DRI from a $23.8 million per year operation in 1998, the year before he became president, to an internationally renowned environmental research organization with over 500 scientists, technologists, students, and support, and an annual revenue of more than $50 million.
Most recently, he has lead the Institution’s creation of several significant economic development initiatives and Knowledge Fund projects, including the Applied Innovate Center and Nevada Center of Excellence in Water – both targeted toward supporting Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval’s initiative to create an innovation-based economy in the state.
“The Nevada System of Higher Education and indeed the entire State of Nevada owe Dr. Wells a huge debt for his many years of extraordinary service,” said NSHE Chancellor Dan Klaich.
Dr. Wells succeeds former New Mexico Tech president Dr. Daniel H. Lopez, who retires June 30, 2016 after 23 years at the university.