By Amanda Bradford ’03

Ask New Mexico State University Alamogordo President Ken Van Winkle how his job is going, and he can’t hide his enthusiasm.

“Bottom line is that I love my work,” Van Winkle says with a smile. “I truly believe in the community college and its mission. In my new role, I’ve had the opportunity to meet outstanding NMSU-A faculty and staff who work tirelessly for the students in our region.”

Van Winkle grew up in Alamogordo, where his father was the high school band director. He began his career at NMSU’s Las Cruces campus as the trumpet instructor and Jazz Ensemble director in 1985. He directed the NMSU Pride marching band in the late 1980s and again from 2000 to 2005. He became director of bands in 1994 and conducted Symphonic Winds, the university’s premier concert band, from 1992 to 2010.

Before being appointed president of NMSU-A, first as an interim in May 2015 and later as its permanent leader in December that year, Van Winkle held several administrative positions at the Las Cruces campus. As associate dean for strategic initiatives and assessment, he was responsible for annual performance evaluations, assessment and academic program review at the NMSU College of Arts and Sciences. He has also served as the academic department head for the Department of Music and acted as interim department head for Journalism and Mass Communications.

“In some ways, I’ve come full circle,” Van Winkle says of his return to his home town. “I have even run across some of my former teachers.

“I think they’re surprised I made it this far!” he quips.

Van Winkle says his greatest success so far has been in leading the campus through an academic reorganization last year that will provide NMSU-A students a clearer path to NMSU’s main campus, if they are seeking a bachelor’s degree, or a better understanding of how to complete a certificate or associate degree.

“We have wonderful faculty, staff and students at NMSU Alamogordo,” Van Winkle says. “It’s my privilege to continue to work with the community to strengthen our campus and increase our enrollment.”


  • Located at the base of the Sacramento Mountains
  • Established in 1958
  • Initial enrollment: 278 students
  • First classes held at Alamogordo High School campus
  • Current enrollment: More than 3,600