Luna Community College might have found its next president in its own backyard.

The Luna board of trustees selected Edward Martinez, a special assistant to the president at New Mexico Highlands University, as the next president of the Las Vegas, N.M., school during a special meeting Tuesday, the college announced in a news release.

The board authorized Gold Hill Associates, a search firm it hired, to begin contract negotiations with Martinez. The board expects to take action on the contract details at its regular meeting Tuesday, the news release said.

Martinez would replace interim president Kenneth Patterson, who served in that capacity since June after replacing Rolando Rael. Patterson, a finalist for the position, will become the school’s vice president of instruction and student services.

Morris Madrid, Luna’s vice president of finance and administration, will be the acting president until the permanent president comes on board.

Martinez spent the past year in his position at Highlands and previously served as the school’s vice president of strategic enrollment management. In his current position, he has worked on diversity and equity issues, as well as advancement and alumni relations.

He helped sustained the school’s operations related to programming at the Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area and oversaw special projects in federal grant fundraising, strategic planning and accreditation.

The news released said Martinez helped bring in more than $14 million in grants to Highlands and facilitated numerous partnerships with community organizations, other colleges and universities and federal and state agencies.

In his previous job at Highlands, Martinez tackled student retention issues and oversaw the offices of financial aid, recruitment and admissions, student relations, academic support, the Native American Center and the International Education Center.

Martinez earned his Ph.D. in environmental and natural resources sciences from Washington State University in 2000.

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