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NMSU System strategic CFO named president of regional business officers’ organization

New Mexico State University system Vice Chancellor and Strategic Chief Financial Officer Ruth A. Johnston has been named president of the Western Association of College and University Business Officers (WACUBO), a professional development and networking organization for university business leaders.


Portrait of woman in black sweater
New Mexico State University Vice Chancellor and Strategic Chief Financial Officer Ruth A. Johnston has been named president of the Western Association of College and University Business Officers, a professional development and networking organization for university business leaders. (NMSU photo by Josh Bachman)

WACUBO is one of four regional associations making up the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO). As a regional president, Johnston will also serve on the national organization’s board.

Membership in the regional organization includes institutions in 14 western states, three Canadian provinces, Mexico and other Pacific Rim nations. WACUBO offers members opportunities to develop professionally, to identify solutions for issues affecting higher education, and to share their expertise with their colleagues.

Johnston said her new role with WACUBO comes at a daunting time, when universities all over the world, including NMSU, are facing challenges as they prepare for the future in a fast-changing environment.

“We began talking about the changing landscape in higher ed even before the virus hit, and are keenly aware of our challenges due to cost, student debt, retirements and institutions who are merging or closing,” Johnston said.

She said the organization provides a chance to share ideas with other leaders and help each other navigate the new challenges.

“As business officers, our institutions will need our leadership more than ever over the next months,” Johnston said. “This is a time for creativity, nimbleness, calm, positivity and realism.”

As strategic chief financial officer, Johnston reports to the NMSU Chancellor and helps to set system-wide strategy, define objectives of individual entities within the university and drive operational efficiency while creating a climate of accountability.

Johnston previously served as first vice president on the WACUBO board of directors, and has served on the Network of Change and Continuous Improvement board. She began her position with NMSU in September 2019, after serving most of her career at the University of Washington.

She holds a Ph.D. in organization development and higher education from the Union Institute. She also holds a master’s degree in human relations from Pacific Lutheran University and a bachelor’s degree in counseling psychology/social sciences from the University of Redlands.