Executive Cabinet

Dr. Ryan Tipton,
Interim President

As a third-generation Lea County resident born and raised in Lovington, Ryan literally “grew up” in the petroleum industry. He briefly left the area to pursue an education at the University of Texas – Permian Basin. After receiving a BBA in Marketing and an MBA in Management/Finance, he returned to Hobbs and started an oil company. With hard work, determination, and favorable commodity prices, the company grew into a regional energy conglomerate. His companies eventually held interests in multiple energy subsectors including; oil and gas production, drilling, pipelines, and transportation. He also owned and operated two restaurants in the region.

In 2007, he sold his energy business to a publicly traded firm and agreed to serve as VP and board member. While pursuing a Doctorate in Business Administration at Walden University he founded a private consulting firm. In 2009, a chance conversation (that occurred while he was working on a consulting project) led Ryan to teach in the business program at USW and shortly thereafter he became the dean of the department. Since that time, the College of Business Administration has grown almost 900% and houses the single largest undergraduate program, the second largest graduate program, and first doctoral program at the university. After nine years of service in the College of Business Administration, Ryan became the university Provost in 2019.

Ryan and his wife Keisha (also a Lovington native) have been married 15 years and have a beautiful 14-year-old daughter, Rylee. His academic areas of interest include data analytics, corporate strategy, sustainability, and innovation. His personal areas of interest include anything involving the sky (aviation) and the ocean (sailing). Ryan will frequently comment that while he’s been fortunate enough to enjoy a personal pursuit of a wide variety of interests, he can honestly say that working in education has been one of the most rewarding.



Paula Smith,
Vice President for Financial Services/CFO

Paula Smith, a 25-year resident of Hobbs, is a licensed CPA and local business owner who recently completed a Master of Science degree in Healthcare Administration at Texas Tech University. Paula also currently is enrolled as a doctoral student in USW’s DBA program. She began her professional career as an auditor for KMPG LLP in Fort Worth, Texas after receiving her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting from Tarleton State University . After moving to Hobbs, she became the Vice-President and CFO of Watson Truck & Supply, Inc. and later started her own business which included a financial consulting services company and a retail shopping center. Paula previously served USW on the Board of Trustees for over a decade.

Paula, like many of the students who will complete their degrees at USW, is a first generation college graduate. She also shares the distinction with them of having a heart for service and a commitment to servant leadership. She is a co-founder of MyPower, Inc. which has grown to become the largest youth development program in Lea County. She has previously served on several community health committees including the Nor-Lea Community Health Assessment Team and Covenant Hobbs Advisory Council.  Most recently Paula served as a member of the Governor’s Task Force for COVID Safe Practices – Retail.

Paula is the spouse of Finn Smith, a prominent leader in the Hobbs business community who also serves on the Hobbs City Commission and the USW Foundation Board of Directors. Paula and Finn are the proud parents of two grown children who were raised and educated in the Hobbs School District, a son who recently graduated from TCU with a degree in accounting and finance and a daughter who attends Texas A & M majoring in environmental engineering. Although our students might not realize it, the concession stand in the Maddox Student Life Center is named after one of Paula’s greatest inspirations, her grandmother.


Steve Appel,
Head Baseball Coach, Director of Athletics, and Director of Facilities

New Mexico native Steve Appel was named the Head Baseball Coach of the University of the Southwest in June of 2014.  Appel has quickly made his mark on the Mustang Baseball program and has led the Mustangs to over 200 wins in his 7 years – the most of any baseball coach on record in a 7 year span on USW record.  In 2022, Appel guided USW to its 2nd consecutive RRAC tournament and won 33 games which is the 2nd most in program history and also the most wins since 2003.  In each year since the arrival of Appel, USW has continued to win more games each year, now making them a yearly contender in the RRAC.  

Appel and his staff have built and remodeled the baseball facility. Appel aided in the largest donation in school history, which was used to build the indoor baseball facility, renovate Jake Williams Field, which includes upgraded playing service, new metal fence and renovated grandstand area. Over the last couple of years Appel aided in reconstructing the new backstop which features a new netting system, concrete wall, and padding from dugout to dugout, new bullpen areas, installation of 30 pine trees along the 1st and 3rd base fences, and fully enclosed the facility with metal fencing.  

Off the field, Appel and his staff continue to strive in excellence. His players continue to work tirelessly in the community with various community outreach programs. The team has also built a strong foundation in the classroom, maintaining over a 3.0 team GPA in the last five years.

Appel came to USW after serving as head coach at Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Goodwell, Oklahoma. While at OPSU, Appel transformed the Aggie baseball team into a disciplined program that was being built to succeed in the highly competitive NCAA Division II Heartland Conference. Under his leadership, OPSU baseball student-athletes also excelled in the classroom as the team GPA improved from 2.20 in 2011 to 3.30 in 2014. During his tenure, Appel was the catalyst for a number of facility enhancements that turned the OPSU baseball field into one of the top facilities in the Heartland Conference.

Appel, a Socorro, New Mexico native, began his intercollegiate athletic playing career at Fort Scott Community College in Fort Scott, Kansas, where he received his associate’s degree before continuing his collegiate playing career at the University of Bridgeport in Bridgeport, Connecticut where he served as team captain for the baseball program, earned his Bachelor of Science degree with Magna Cum Laude honors and was also awarded his Master of Science degree. Immediately following his collegiate playing career, Appel joined the coaching staff at his alma mater as an assistant pitching coach and began his climb in the baseball coaching profession. Appel was named the UB baseball program’s top assistant and pitching coach in 2006 and by 2009 had constructed a pitching staff that finished the season with a 3.25 ERA and was ranked sixth in the nation.

In 2019, Appel was added the Director of Athletics tag along with the Head Baseball Coach position. In the Spring of 2021, Appel made the big decision to relocate all of its Athletic programs to Sky Ranch, located in the Tyler, TX area in order for the teams to compete during the COVID year in which colleges and universities were not allowed to play home games.  In this year, each team was able to fully complete their schedules while playing all their games on the road.  The teams were based on the campus of Sky Ranch, where everyone was able to practice, study, and live normally during the tough times.  Later in the summer of 2022, Appel was also named the Director of Facilities on campus.  

Amanda Guzman,
Director of Student Affairs

Amanda Guzman has been at the University of the Southwest for 5 years. She began her career at University of the Southwest in the Registrar’s Office as an Undergraduate Academic Advisor. She then accepted the position of Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Student Support for the College of Business Administration. She currently serves as the Director of Student Affairs and continues to advise all of the Undergraduate College of Business Administration students.

She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication from Angelo State University.

Amanda was born and raised in Denver City, TX and graduated from Denver City High School.


Dr. Brianna Lopez,
Dean of Instruction and Academic Affairs

Bio coming soon...