After more than 40 winters living in a city where temperatures sink dangerously below zero, Scott Smart decided it was time for a change.
So the 44-year-old set his sights on the warm, arid climate of Portales, where temperatures meander around 100 degrees in the summer and winter snowfall is not a seasonal mainstay.
The Michigan native recently took the job as Eastern New Mexico University’s vice president of business affairs, replacing longtime employee Danny Earp, who will retire on July 31.
“I am sort of — not sort of — I am a warm-weather fan,” Smart said. “Where I come from in January and February the temperature on the thermometer is commonly 25 below zero, with the wind chill sometimes 50 below zero — and that’s just too cold.”
Officials at ENMU said they chose Smart, who formerly worked in business affairs at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., for several reasons. One reason is his outgoing personality.
“Scott is very insightful and has a good sense of humor,” noted Earp, who is training Smart for the job. “He brings a wealth of very practical higher education business management experience to the job.”
ENMU President Steven Gamble described his new hire as “the ideal candidate,” and someone who had impeccable references and quality experience.
But it wasn’t just ENMU officials doing the bragging on their find — Smart said ENMU has one of the best run business plans of any state university in America.
“One my goals is to continue the great financial success that ENMU has,” Smart said. “The university has got to be in the top 5 percent in the nation in terms of their financial condition. They’ve had great, great leadership at this institution and I would certainly want to continue that.”
Smart said he knows tough decisions lie ahead.