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Former local educator is chosen for college board

Dr. Jeff Elwell, left, president of the Eastern New Mexico University system, says his first 100 days in office have been busy and informative. He is seen talking with Dr. John Madden, president of Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell, and members of the ENMU-R Community College Board at its Wednesday meeting. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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A retired educator and one of the organizers of the annual Hike It and Spike It charity football competition has been appointed to the Community College Board of Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell.


The four current members voted unanimously Wednesday to approve Cla Avery’s application to fill the District 5 seat vacated in May by Dawn Tschabrun when she moved to Albuquerque to become the chief operating officer for Lovelace Women’s Hospital. District 5 represents northeast Roswell.

Avery, whose legal name is Carleton Louis Avery, is scheduled to be sworn in at the board’s next meeting Nov. 1.

“I had served previously on a board at ENMU-R and had enjoyed that many years ago and when this opening became available, I felt like this was an opportunity to continue to give back to the university,” Avery said. “I have always been very supportive of ENMU-Roswell and, if there is a way I can be helpful to the community and the university, I look forward to that opportunity.”

Holding a bachelor of fine arts from New Mexico Highlands University, Avery worked for 25 years until 1999 as a teacher at Mountain View Middle School. He then served for more than 10 years as executive director of Chaves County Character Counts!, which seeks to develop and recognize good character in students and educators.

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Since 1996, he has been a local organizer of the annual Hike It & Spike It flag football tournament that raises money for charity and is one of the biggest tourist events in Roswell. Avery also serves on the board for the Eastern New Mexico Medical Center.

Avery said he served on a similar board at ENMU-R about 15 years ago before the current board organization was implemented and has continued his connection in several ways, including as the parent of two sons who have graduated from Eastern New Mexico University in Portales. One attended ENMU-R for a year before completing his degree at ENMU, Avery said.

He explained that he is prepared at this time to comment on issues that might need to be addressed as a board member. “I look forward to seeing what the challenges might be and solving them if they are solvable,” he said.

He added that his goal is “to continue to help the university grow and serve the students in our region. I really look forward to that opportunity. I think we’ve made great strides over the first few years, and, whatever I can do to continue to move it forward, I look forward to doing.”

Avery said he has not decided whether he will be a candidate for the seat in February 2019, when the current term ends. “I have no idea,” he said about a run, “Let’s see how this goes.”

Current board chair Eloise Blake remarked on Avery’s work with the school district, Character Counts! and the football event.

“Cla is very, very known in the community,” she said. “He also serves with me on the hospital board, and he is a very, very useful member of the board.”

The meeting also included comments from Dr. Jeff Elwell, the new president of the Eastern New Mexico University system, and Dr. John Madden, president of ENMU-R, who talked about significant issues affecting higher education.

They touched on continuing concerns regarding higher education at the state level, increased questioning by some in the state of the worth of dual-credit courses, and the uncertainty felt by students, parents and ENMU-R staff about the potential impacts of changes to federal regulations affecting so-called Dreamers —people brought to the United States as children by their undocumented immigrant parents.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.