Fall 2016

Back Cover



Posted by webcomm_admin in Back Cover, Fall 2016

All About Impact

aggiepride-cookfamilyCook family makes long-lasting giving a priority 

By Charlotte Tallman ’02

If you had to measure the success of the Cook family, you wouldn’t measure it just by their professional and family achievements, but also by the gifts of time and donations they dedicate to the communities and organizations they appreciate, including New Mexico State University.

Brothers Philip ’84, and Loren ’86, ’91, both College of Business Distinguished Alumni, and their wives, Sandra ’84, and Paula, make it a priority to give back in a way that demonstrates long-lasting impact.

“I decided a long time ago that you have to learn how to give, and you have to teach your kids how to give, or they will have to learn it by themselves,” says Philip, chief financial officer of Samson Resources. The couple made it a point to set an example for their two daughters, Laurel and Alexandra, not only in how they give, but also why they give. “As we decide where to give, it becomes all about the kind of impact we will have.”

One way they make an impact at NMSU is through the Philip and Sandra Cook Endowed Scholarship, which they created to help students who are qualified to attend NMSU, but are not able to attend their first semester without financial assistance. As a new endowment, the scholarship was first awarded to Alicia Munoz Galvan this semester.

“It is nice to give back to New Mexico and something we love, and we believe in the power of an education,” says Sandra, who is a philanthropic leader in her community.

Loren and Paula give to also make an impact, and together established the Loren and Paula Cook Current Use Scholarship and a permanent scholarship endowment. The current use scholarship has been awarded to six graduate students in accounting.

“I believe I am successful in business for many reasons, and I have a lot of people to thank. NMSU is one of those reasons, and I owe a lot of thanks to the university and the people within it,” says Loren, founder of Cook Legal Group and CTH Partners, a business consulting firm.

Loren says he and his siblings found success in work ethic and discipline because of the influence of their parents, Glenn and Eleanor.

Loren and Paula, along with their children Abbey, Connor, Madeline and Olivia, look for opportunities to give in a way that increases impact.

Both Phillip and Loren have dedicated time as well as money, serving on the NMSU Foundation Board of Directors and College of Business Advisory Boards and mentoring students both in their hometowns and on campus.

“What we do needs to make a difference,” Loren says. And it does – both for the students in the College of Business and the NMSU community as a whole.

Posted by webcomm_admin in Fall 2016

Press Check

Recent books by NMSU Alumni

Compiled by Amanda Bradford

Panorama welcomes information on books and creative works by NMSU alumni. Information may be sent to panorama@nmsu.edu.


press-check-beeThe Bee Who Sneezed

Stephen Evans ’09 and Mic Ru ’08

Stephen Evans is the head chef for the University of Missouri Athletic Dining and has been hidden away in the back of kitchens since he was 16 years old. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy at 18 to serve his country. After his honorable discharge in 2005, he earned his bachelor’s degree in Hotel Restaurant Tourism Management at NMSU and was hired on as the chef for the University of Missouri Tigers. Around the same time, he discovered his hidden talent for writing children’s stories. Evans collaborated with illustrator Mic Ru of Rain Bear Design Studios, another NMSU graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, on “The Bee Who Sneezed,” and together, they created 2nd Tour Publishing. The creative team is planning a series of children’s books, including “The Lizard in a Blizzard,” “The Rat Who Loved Math” and “The Duck Without a Quack.”


press-check-poetThe Poet & The Singer

Bud Russo’66
“The Poet & The Singer,” the first mainstream novel by Las Cruces writer Bud Russo, is the story of singer Anne Melandrevich, who uses the stage name Annie Melodie, and her husband, Geof Barringer, the poet. Though poor and struggling, the two artists know they’re meant for each other and make the most of the love they share. When Anne is discovered by a Nashville producer, her career skyrockets, giving the young couple what they’ve dreamed of. Yet conflict between their marriage and Anne’s successful career results in them separating, until the story’s climax challenges not only their fortitude as well as their strength as a couple. A Las Cruces resident since 2005, Russo retired after 40 years of writing for trade magazines about manufacturing and automation, a career that took him across the country and around the world. In New Mexico, he turned his interests and skills into travel and general interest stories for Southwest Senior, a local monthly publication.


press-check-mesillaMesilla Comes Alive: A History of Mesilla and Its Valley

C. W. Buddy Ritter ’58 ’81

Fifth-generation New Mexican and owner of the Double Eagle Restaurant in historic Old Mesilla, C.W. “Buddy” Ritter has written a descriptive history of the Mesilla Valley. “Mesilla Comes Alive: A History of Mesilla and Its Valley” tells the story of one of the iconic towns of the old west, from the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century to the granting of statehood to New Mexico in 1912. Written in short, entertaining, informative sections, and loaded with custom maps, archival photos and other illuminating illustrations, “Mesilla Comes Alive” provides a fascinating journey back in time and includes stories of such notable and colorful figures as Don Juan de Oñate, Santa Anna, Billy the Kid, Albert Fountain, Pat Garrett and many others. The book also puts forward several interesting theories that contradict the accepted history of the area, and includes two items – a newly discovered photo of Billy the Kid and a short history of Mesilla written by Albert Fountain – that have not previously appeared in any book.

Rotten Gambler Two Becomes a True American

Edward Lumsdaine ’63 ’64 ’66

“The Poet & The Singer,” the first mainstream novel by Las Cruces writer Bud Russo, is the story of singer Anne Melandrevich, who uses the stage name Annie Melodie, and her husband, Geof Barringer, the poet. Though poor and struggling, the two artists know they’re meant for each other and make the most of the love they share. When Anne is discovered by a Nashville producer, her career skyrockets, giving the young couple what they’ve dreamed of. Yet conflict between their marriage and Anne’s successful career results in them separating, until the story’s climax challenges not only their fortitude as well as their strength as a couple. A Las Cruces resident since 2005, Russo retired after 40 years of writing for trade magazines about manufacturing and automation, a career that took him across the country and around the world. In New Mexico, he turned his interests and skills into travel and general interest stories for Southwest Senior, a local monthly publication.

The Man with the Black Box

Colin P. Cahoon ’83

A historical fiction thriller from Mesilla Valley native Colin P. Cahoon, “The Man with the Black Box” is a terrifying examination of the corruptibility of mankind, a riveting twist on the classic battle of good versus evil, and a fantasy thriller of historic proportions. An international crisis threatens to plunge the world into war at the dawn of the 20th century, but the British Foreign Office finds itself blinded by the bizarre deaths of crucial agents and informants as it struggles to stave off the coming conflagration. For help, they turn to an unconventional outsider, Inspector Jenkins of Scotland Yard, who soon finds himself on the trail of a mysterious man with a deadly black box and a host of devoted accomplices. What’s in the box? Everyone is dying to know.

Goodnight, Campsite

Loretta Sponsler ’00

Loretta Sponsler was born and raised in New Mexico, currently lives in Colorado, and travels all over the country, although the West holds a particular spot in her heart. She has a degree in journalism from NMSU and worked most of her career as a technical writer and editor with the U.S. government. Now Loretta is a full-time mom, part-time writer. Loretta and her family, complete with three young boys, have traveled all over the United States, pulling a travel trailer and camping along the way. The Sponslers spend every moment they can at a campsite, exploring the great outdoors. “Goodnight, Campsite” was born of a love of camping and books, and it filled a rather large void in children’s books about recreational vehicles.

Life Lessons for My Daughters

James Parker ’71 ’72

James Parker didn’t know, when a medical emergency left him comatose, that the result would be a plea from his daughter to tell his life’s story. While his life growing up on a farm was simple, many unusual things occurred. James tells these stories in a sometimes hilarious and always entertaining way – like the story of how, at 10 years of age, James got a rifle for Christmas. It was too cold to shoot it during the winter so he would sit in a chair in the kitchen and shoot at an arrangement of bottles and cans sitting on a table in the backyard. He would raise the rifle, kick the door open with his left foot, aim, and fire, being careful not to shoot a hole in the screen door or an unsuspecting family member. After moving to New Mexico, James found himself in midst of youthful fights, car wrecks and speeding tickets. He faced court appearances, overcame illnesses, attended colleges, raised children and enjoyed a long, loving marriage. These stories aim to entertain, and perhaps even inspire his readers to write about their own lives.

Quinn-Essential Nutrition

Barbara Quinn’75

Inspired by readers of her internationally distributed column, “Quinn On Nutrition,” registered dietitian nutritionist Barbara Quinn thoughtfully unpacks and delivers answers to more than a hundred current nutrition topics. With her typical style of common sense and humor, Quinn mixes the serious science of nutrition with delicious experiences from her family, friends, and faithful readers. And because life sometimes gets too serious, “Quinn-Essential Nutrition” nourishes your lighter side with reasons to have a cup of tea, fun advice for guys and gals, and favorite corny food jokes. Quinn earned her Bachelor of Science in dietetics at NMSU. Quinn’s column originates in the Monterey County (California) Herald and is distributed to more than 600 media outlets worldwide. The book features several pieces associated with her years at NMSU, including a chile FAQ that highlights information from the university’s Chile Pepper Institute.

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Impact that lasts

Memorial scholarship helps students overcome learning challenges

When professor Pat Gavin stepped up to the podium to pay tribute to his late son Gage Gavin, he expected to see only close friends and family – but instead was surrounded by hundreds who had been touched by Gage and his family. Gavin is director of the PGA Golf Management Program in the NMSU College of Business, and at that moment on the podium, looking out on those caring faces, he had a vision: a way to remember Gage and the great person he was, and also help future students with scholarship support, allowing them to focus on their schooling instead of worrying about how to pay for it.

Gage had recently turned 18 and graduated from Oñate High School when he passed away unexpectedly in June 2015. Graduating meant more to Gage than anyone could have known, and surpassed a milestone that Pat and his family had fought so hard for. Gage struggled with a learning disability, but never let that get him down. He was a loving person and was quick to share a hug and smile with his brother and sister, as well as the people he met during his nightly visits to the community dog park or on the trails up to Aguirre Springs with his mom.

“Simply put Gage was everyone’s best friend,” Pat says. “He always put what would help others before worrying about what would help him.”

During Gage’s eulogy, full of laughter and tears, Pat made an announcement that he would be establishing an endowment in Gage’s memory at NMSU. Instead of his initial goal of $50,000 in three years, he pledged he would raise $50,000 in three weeks. It sounded like an impossible feat, but a week after establishing the endowment through the NMSU Foundation, it had grown to $20,000, and after three weeks, it was over $65,000. Pat increased the goal to $100,000, hoping it would help even more students pursue their educational dreams.

The Gage Gavin Endowed Scholarship was established to support the PGA Golf Management Program, with preference given to students with a documented learning disability. It was Gage’s dream to work at the NMSU golf course along with his dad. To qualify for the scholarship, a recipient must have a minimum of 2.5 grade-point average. Many merit-based scholarships are awarded to students with the best grade points, but it was Pat's intention to help students with learning disabilities succeed in reaching their goals, regardless of their grades.

In the short time available, it already  has made a difference for Kyle Sidlo, a  two-time recipient of the scholarship  who came to Las Cruces from San Diego.  Kyle is happy to have the perfect weather  for golfing and the support of the Gage  Gavin Endowed Scholarship to allow  him to focus on his studies.

“It’s a tight group, like a fraternity or  sorority,” says Kyle, who is in his junior  year. “When we heard about Gage, everyone  came together to support Pat. He  is our mentor and we love everything he  has made available to us. “Kyle is similar  to Gage in that he was diagnosed with a  learning disability that increased his test  anxiety. For Kyle, an added half hour to  take a test makes all the difference. His  parents discovered it when he was in elementary  school and like Gage's parents,  helped him to seek out opportunities to  make his achievements possible. 

Pat believes the endowment is a way  to remember and honor Gage, and help  his family find some peace in their grief.

“I miss him every day. We miss him  every day,” Pat says. “This endowment  allows us to meet and help students and make a difference.”

He says the love and support the family has received through donations of  money, flowers, phone calls and messages  was beyond their imagination. 

“I’ll continue to thank people forever,”  he says. “It meant a lot to see the  outpouring of respect for Gage and our  family. It was a way to take a horrible  negative situation and find something  positive in it. 

Kyle agrees. “This is a way for Gage’s  memory to live on.”


Kyle Sidlo, right, was  the first recipient of  the Gage Gavin, was  the first recipient  of the Gage Gavin  Memorial Endowed  Scholarship, which  was established by  New Mexico State  University marketing  professor Pat Gavin,  left, in honor  of his son


For more information about the  Gage Gavin Memorial Endowed  Scholarship, contact Anthony Casaus at acasaus@nmsu.edu  or 575-646-5817,  or visit https://makeastatement.nmsu.edu/project/2815. 

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An evening of thanks and support

It was an incredible evening of good food, fine wine, cooking presentations, giving and gratitude during the 2016 President’s Associates Ball on April 22 in the Doña Ana Community College student lounge. Donated auction items from all over the United States brought in $55,000 during the ball, allowing the New Mexico State University Foundation to provide President’s Associates Scholarships to a new class of 15 PA Scholars.

The evening showcased student talent from across the NMSU system. The DACC Culinary Program offered their talents during a special VIP cooking lesson and wine paring, as well as a cocktail reception. Generous sponsors for the sold out event included U.S. Bank, Hakes Brothers, Salopek 6U Farms, Ashley Furniture, Wells Fargo, Harris Corporation, and Flavours Catering by Sodexo.

“This scholarship is the reason I am at NMSU, and I will never forget this opportunity.” -Emerson Morrow

Scholars come to NMSU from all over the state, including:

Fort Sumner
Las Cruces
Los Alamos
Silver City

Because the very foundation of the scholarship is to honor students who demonstrate their commitment to academic excellence, activities and experiences above and beyond that of their peers, students receive a scholarship that covers the full cost of tuition and fees, plus a stipend of $3,250 annually for other educational and living expenses. Donors make these scholarships possible.

President’s Associates Scholars from all over New Mexico have graduated from NMSU and gone on to become leaders in their fields, making the entire state of New Mexico proud to call each one of them one of our own.


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There’s no place like home

Aggies clicked their heels together three times and found themselves back on campus during New Mexico State University’s Homecoming Week in September. They honored Distinguished Alumni in each college and celebrated James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service recipient Dino Camunez at a special Friday night dinner at Corbett Center Center Student Union. The Alumni Association also selected and honored Distinguished Alumni from Dona Ana Community College for the first time.

The week culminated in a gameday tailgate before the Aggies took down the Ragin’ Cajuns in a thrilling double-overtime victory. If you weren’t able to get home for Homecoming, check out all the photos from the week’s events on our social media pages.



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Aggie Star: Pascal Siakam

Former Aggie men’s basketball star Pascal Siakam fulfilled his father’s dream this spring when he was drafted by the NBA’s Toronto Raptors with the 27th overall pick. He was the first Aggie player selected in the NBA draft in 25 years. Pascal's father, Tchamo Siakam, loved watching professional basketball and told his four sons in Cameroon it was his dream to see one of them play in the NBA.

Tragically, his father was killed in a car accident in 2014 before he could see that dream come to fruition. Pascal relied on the support of his Aggie teammates and coaches as he worked through his grief, and went on to deliver a stunning performance in the 2015-16 season, averaging 20.3 points, 11.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks. He led the nation with 27 double-doubles.

Pascal was named the unanimous choice for WAC Men’s Basketball Player of the Year after being selected as WAC Player of the Week an unprecedented five times in his last season with the Aggies. He was named First Team All-WAC and selected to the WAC All-Defensive Team. He was also honored by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association as a member of their All-District VIII Team and to the WAC All-Tournament Team.

In the days leading up to the draft, Pascal told NBA.com reporter Chris Dortch that his father was on his mind as he continued to prepare.

“This is for whole family – that’s what drives me – most of all for my dad,” Siakam said in the interview with Dortch. “I still think about the conversations he had with me and my brothers. He was so excited talking about basketball, and the NBA.

“And now I'm this close. It’s unbelievable. If I can make that dream become a reality, it will have been the best thing I ever did in my life.”



Carrying a Torch

Louis Vega ’91 had the honor of bearing the Olympic torch in Rio de Janeiro in preparation for the 2016 Summer Games. Vega is the chief of staff and vice president of Olympic and Sports Solutions at The Dow Chemical Company. He also returned to Brazil later in the summer to participate in the 2016 Paralympics.

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A lifetime of education

Family's legacy gives future teachers the tools they need to thrive

Couples share many journeys throughout life, but the Douglases – Leonard and Bonnie – also shared an appreciation of how education lifted them and their family out of poverty, and how it could move the world. Their drive to spread the access to education has now turned into a lasting legacy at New Mexico State University.

Leonard Douglas was born on April 8, 1910, near Cheyenne, Oklahoma. He was born into a farming family, homesteaders who had laid claim on the red-clay dugout where he spent the first eight years of his life.

Bonnie Rose King was born on a hand-made rope and straw bed in at the Bar Z Ranch near Rankin, Oklahoma, on Nov. 17, 1908. Since school was more than three miles away, she learned to read under the tutelage of her grandmother. Her freshman year of high school was spent working as a maid in a lawyer’s home to pay for her room and board in a neighboring town, while her father scraped together money for tuition.

Much like his future father-in-law, Leonard Douglas worked hard to pull himself out of poverty and knew education was the way. He reported in his 1969 memoir, “After six fragmented and partial years caused by inadequate school district finance, I was graduated in 1929 as valedictorian of my class. No other member of my family had finished elementary school.”

His daughter, Lynne Hartsell ’67, who is the guardian of the memories of her family, explained how poverty shaped her father’s character, and how he never forgot the judgment from others that came with being poor. From Hartsell’s family memoir: “My middle-aged father said softly, ‘Would they look at us and assume we were backward because there were so many of us and we had so little?’”

After high school, both Leonard and Bonnie went to Dague’s Business College in Wichita, Kansas. They married in January 1929, but with the Great Depression, priorities changed. Leonard toiled at multiple jobs – raising turkeys, driving a school bus, picking cotton. Bonnie typed term papers and ironed – 10 starched, white shirts in an hour earned her fifteen cents.

The years that followed in the stark landscape of dustbowl Oklahoma gave Leonard an even stronger yearning for education. While World War II raged on, he received a B.S. in business education, physical science, and social science from Central State College in Edmond, Oklahoma.

After he received his degree, Leonard became a teacher and high school principal. His positions took the Douglas family to several small towns in Oklahoma, then to Missouri. Leonard was a dedicated and charismatic mentor to his students, aiding them not only with their studies, but in building their characters. Hartsell recalls that her father would be one of the last people the young men going off to war would stop to see.

Faithful in return, Leonard would note the names of his students who died in service, and would somberly and dutifully write letters to the parents. Lynne remembers Bonnie asking Leonard, “What are you going to say? You barely knew him.” Leonard replied, “I will tell them that his life mattered. You don’t need to know much about a person to tell a parent that.”

Leonard worked to receive his M.A. at Northeast Missouri State Teachers College, majoring in public school administration and minoring in supervision. Bonnie would take care of their children, Betty Rose and Lynne, while running her own beauty shop. When he finished, Leonard showed he never forgot his wife’s sacrifices.

In her memoir, Bonnie recalls a moment of gratitude: “My husband earned his Master’s degree in the summer of 1949. When he received his diploma, he handed it to me saying, ‘Your work has made this possible. Please open it.’”



Leonard Douglas, ready to go to medical college in Kirksville, Missouri, 1946.


Lt. Col. Robert and Lynne Hartsell have been married for 50 years.


The entire family in Georgetown, British Guiana, 1962.
Back: Bonnie and Leonard Douglas
Front: Betty Rose Douglas Rios, Blaire Rios, Lynne Hartsell.


The Leonard and Bonnie Douglas and Betty Rose Douglas Rios Memorial Library Endowment supports the growth of the NMSU Library resources in the field of education, with emphasis on curriculum and instruction, elementary education, and rural education and small schools. The selection of the materials is jointly determined by the NMSU Library and the NMSU College of Education.


Student NEA students at NMSU give their adviser, Leonard Douglas, a plaque. The students pulled together $150 to establish a fund in his honor, which has since grown to an endowment. Inset: Betty Rose Douglas Rios, specialized in rural education resources during her career.

Bonnie finally returned to complete  her education when the Douglas family  arrived in New Mexico. Leonard had  taken a position as an instructor at New  Mexico Western College in 1951 and  he became a department head for the  business education department. Bonnie  took one night class at a time. Twenty one  years after first starting college,  Bonnie received her bachelor’s degree in  elementary education and social science.  She completed her master’s degree seven  years later. 

In 1958, the Douglas family moved from Silver City to Las Cruces when Leonard completed his Ph.D. at Colorado State College of Education. He accepted a position at NMSU in the department of education. He became a department head for the business education department, then a supervisor of secondary student teachers. Leonard also became the adviser to the NMSU Chapter of the Student National Education Association. In 1968, students pulled together $150 to establish a fund in his honor. However, for that original deposit to grow into an endowment, it needed a champion, and it found two: their daughters, Lynne and Betty Rose.

An NMSU Distinguished Alumna in 1989, Betty Rose Douglas Rios’ career was spent with the Educational Research Information Center Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools. Betty Rose ’60 worked diligently to develop an extensive network of rural education and small school contacts nationally and internationally.

The Leonard and Bonnie Douglas and Betty Rose Douglas Rios Memorial Library Endowment supports the growth of the NMSU Library resources in the field of education, with emphasis on curriculum and instruction, elementary education, and rural education and small schools. The selection of the materials is jointly determined by the NMSU Library and the NMSU College of Education.

Elizabeth Titus, dean of the NMSU Library, appreciates the ability of the NMSU Library to be a resource for underserved populations. “One of our main goals is creating access,” Titus says. “With an endowment that gives a specific charge, we can be focused on creating the best possible purchases that will impact our students’ educations.” Lynne Hartsell, now a retired educator, slowly sought out the means to bring the endowment to a level where funds could be disbursed, approaching old colleagues and former students of her parents. She recalled going to a family reunion where a down-on-her-luck relative, so moved by Leonard’s story, came up to Lynne and donated a dollar with tears in her eyes.

“I knew it might be all she had right then,” Lynne says. “But she still believed in education.”

For more information about the endowment, contact April Anaya at aanaya@nmsu.edu or 575-646-1508.

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Taking Root

Biologist using $4.4 million grant to create hardier pecan trees

You may enjoy receiving those packaged pecans as a gift during the holiday season. Or maybe it’s that freshly baked pecan pie that makes your mouth water. The pecan is one of the most nutritious nuts out there, and pecan production across the U.S. could improve thanks to a $4.4 million grant awarded to New Mexico State University.

The grant was funded as part of the Specialty Crop Research Initiative through the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute ofFood and Agriculture. NMSU’s allotment was part of $36.5 million awarded for research and extension to support American farmers. Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the grant awards in August.

NMSU Research Associate Professor Jennifer Randall and her team have cloned nearly 300 different genotypes of pecan. Randall was recently awarded a $4.4 million grant to support her research on improving pecan production.

NMSU Research Associate Professor Jennifer Randall.

Research Associate Professor Jennifer Randall in the Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Weed Science in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences is the lead project investigator for the grant at NMSU, and her goal is to breed more productive pecan trees that will lead to improved yield of pecans.

“We’ll target four trees that have very different traits, and we’re going to look at their genomes,” Randall says. “We’re going to start pin-pointing genes that are important for disease resistance and salinity tolerance. We will also look at flowering and tree architecture.”

One tool that will be used is pecan rootstock cloning, a method developed by Randall. By using this method, rootstock best suited for a specific orchard area could be cloned for ideal growing conditions.

Pecan trees grown in commercial orchards have two main parts that are grafted together. The top part of the tree produces nuts and is genetically the same as other treetops in an orchard. The bottom part is called the rootstock, and each rootstock is genetically different. The research process, which began in late 2012, involves cloning rootstocks to make them genetically the same. The Randall Lab has cloned nearly 300 different pecan genotypes, or genetically different trees.

Randall, who has a doctorate in molecular biology from NMSU, said she and her team are trying to find the best genetic tree for specific environ mental needs.

“When we find one, having everything genetically uniform can make a lot of differences in an orchard,” Randall says.

What that means for growers is that rootstock best suited for a specific orchard area could be cloned for ideal growing conditions. The challenge in the Southwest is that the soil contains a large amount of salt. Randall said determining rootstocks that are able to grow in high salinity soils is advantageous, as the pecan tree can better survive and produce.

Identifying salinity tolerant and disease resistant rootstocks would be advantageous to pecan tree growers in the Southwest, as such trees may lead to more productive yields.

Although pecan is an international crop, Randall is looking forward to what the grant will help achieve in the United States. New Mexico now pro duces approximately 20 percent of the
U.S. pecan crop each year and, in 2006, New Mexico became the largest pecan producing state in the nation for the first time in history.

“I think this will help our U.S. growers, as pecan is grown in 25 states,” she says. “It’s one of our native trees to North America, and there’s a lot of genetic diversity that has not been described, and growers are not yet reaping the full benefits. Although pecan has been grown as an industry for over 100 years, it’s still in its infancy as far as a crop goes, as the trees differ very little from native pecan trees. There’s a lot of room for improvement that will help growers.”

The timing of the grant couldn’t be better. In May, the USDA announced that producers passed a Federal Marketing Order for pecans. The FMO is a self-help program funded by pecan revenue and administered by pecan stakeholders for the benefit of the industry and consumers. Collaborating with NMSU on the research project will be the Hudson Alpha Institute for Biotechnology; USDA in Texas, Georgia and Louisiana; the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation; and the University of Arizona. Much of the grant funding will be used for students, postdoctoral researchers, sequencing services, research and extension outreach. A website dedicated to pecan research will be available to inform growers about the advancements and new tools that will assist them in their farming practices.

“The grant will allow us to train our students and post-docs, who are our leaders for tomorrow, while accomplishing the research at the same time,” Randall says. “And hopefully we’ll have a new generation of plant scientists that will keep doing this work that is so important to the Mesilla Valley.”


  • New Mexico produces about 20 percent of the U.S. pecan crop each year
  • About 70 percent of the state’s pecan acreage is in the Mesilla Valley
  • NMSU’s pecan roots run deep: Fabian Garcia, the first director of the New Mexico Agricultural Experiment Station, planted some of New Mexico’s first pecan trees in the Mesilla Valley in 1913.
  • Many of the original trees are still standing at New Mexico State University’s Fabian Garcia Horticultural Science Center.


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2016 Domenici Public Policy Conference

Speakers foster a community conversation about mental health care

Taking its lead from the lifelong advocacy for mental health parity that was a cornerstone of its namesake’s career, the 2016 Pete V. Domenici Public Policy Conference focused heavily on that topic this year, bringing in speakers to explore the challenges of modern mental health care from many angles. The conference, now in its ninth year, was established at NMSU with the goal of continuing Domenici’s legacy of service to the state of New Mexico and the nation by providing unique learning and policy research opportunities. The Domenici Institute also brought together members of the mental health care community in southern New Mexico to facilitate a round-table discussion with several of the speakers, who shared their insights and ideas for addressing challenges in the region.

For more information about the Domenici Institute for Public Policy, visit domenici.nmsu.edu

Patrick J. Kennedy, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and the nation’s leading political voice on mental illness, addiction and other brain diseases, gave a passionate speech during the conference’s second day, detailing his experience with mental illness and his support for the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, which was championed in the Senate by Pete Domenici and Paul Wellstone, and later by Kennedy’s father, Ted Kennedy.



U.S. Sen. Pete V. Domenici worked throughout his long career to achieve legislation that would improve the lives of people with mental illness.

Mother, author and advocate Liza Long described her family’s fight to get the right diagnosis for her son, becoming emotional as she recounted the day she was forced to charge him with a crime to get him the help he needed.

Jamie Michael with the Doña Ana County Health and Human Services Department and Doña Ana Wellness Institute gave an update on local mental health initiatives, following a roundtable discussion with several of the experts who spoke at the conference.

Miami-Dade County judge Steven Leifman told the audience about the horrible conditions he witnessed for people with mental illness in the criminal justice system. He’s at the forefront of a public policy movement in the criminal justice system to reduce the number of people with mental illness in prison, and to develop alternative approaches that offer treatment and support for recovery.

Dr. E. Fuller Torrey shared his research schizophrenia and bipolar disorder – and his advocacy for better treatment for individuals with serious mental illness.

Randy Ko, of University of New Mexico, asks a question of Dr. Fuller Torrey after his presentation. Students from universities all over New Mexico are invited to participate as student panelists during the conference, fostering new research and learning experiences across disciplines. Only 20 students are selected for the program.

Discussion topics ripped straight from the headlines

To discuss the 2016 elections, the conference paired up political strategist and former Bill Clinton campaign manager James Carville and Kristen Soltis Anderson, opposite page, a pollster and author of “The Selfie Vote: Where Millennials are Leading America (And How Republicans Can Keep Up)” for a lively discussion and an extended Q&A with the student panelists. NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers moderated the discussion.

2016 Student Panelists

Kylie Katalinich, Eastern New Mexico University

Tamlyn Crain, New Mexico Highlands University

Cassandra Sanchez, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

Garrett Autry, New Mexico State University

Micaela de la Rosa, New Mexico State University

Joli McSherry, New Mexico State University

Dylan Pell, New Mexico State University

Connor Schultz, New Mexico State University

Haley Stewart, New Mexico State University

Margie Vela, New Mexico State University

Tessa Chrisman, University of New Mexico

Tiberius Davis, University of New Mexico

Gabriel Gallegos, University of New Mexico

Sonny Christopher Haquani, University of New Mexico

Andrew Hollis, University of New Mexico

Randy Ko, University of New Mexico

Jay Maharath, University of New Mexico

Monica Moreno, Western New Mexico University

Grecia Rivas, Western New Mexico University



Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry discussed the work his city is doing to improve the relationship and restore trust between the police force and the community following a Department of Justice report that outlined problems in the department.

New Mexico Secretary of Higher Education Barbara Damron detailed some of the strategic priorities for higher ed in the state as it grapples with continued funding challenges.

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel opened the conference with a keynote speech on national security. In addition to serving as the 24th U.S. Secretary of Defense – the first enlisted combat veteran to serve in that role – he also served two terms in the U.S. Senate, representing Nebraska.

Posted by webcomm_admin in Fall 2016