NMSU system launches its most ambitious campaign ever, aiming to raise $125 million

By Amanda Bradford ’03 and Cassie McClure ’06 ’08

The New Mexico State University system has launched the public phase of its $125 million comprehensive campaign, “Ignite Aggie Discovery,” to ensure that the entire NMSU system and the Aggie community continue to illuminate pathways to success for all of its students, faculty and others in New Mexico and the Southwest who benefit from NMSU’s impact.

During the campaign’s silent phase, which began in May 2013, the NMSU Foundation raised more than half the campaign’s goal – more than $72.5 million. While NMSU is a public university system, funding from private donors, alumni corporations, foundations and other sources supports vital community programs, research and student scholarship opportunities.

“Every person has the power to make a huge difference in this campaign, because their gifts have a collective impact,” says Andrea Tawney, president of the NMSU Foundation. “If we can move every alum, every member of our Aggie family, to participate, no matter what the amount of their gift, we will see a complete transformation in what is possible for our
community, our faculty and our students.”

One of the most important goals of the campaign, which extends through 2019, is the creation of $50 million in new scholarship endowments. This would provide $2 million each year in perpetuity for new, game-changing scholarships.

Scholarship funding is crucial so that all NMSU campuses can offer opportunities to students regardless of their means, and also so the university can attract top students and nurture their success. Whether endowed or current use, scholarships reflect the passion of NMSU donors and augment student resources while impacting various groups, including high achievers, military veterans, underrepresented populations and many others.

Impact of scholarships

Scholarships make a significant difference in the lives of student recipients. April Montoya, an Air Force veteran and Air Force wife, explains that her RAYVETS Degree Completion Scholarship will help ease her stress in her final year of nursing school. “It brought tears to my eyes, because help with tuition means I have money for gas to get to clinicals, or to buy uniforms or medical scissors,” Montoya says. “It has a domino effect, so that I don’t have to take money from my family – and with two teens and an 8-year-old, finances are already very tight.”

Montoya, a full-time student, had debated taking a break from school and working to raise the tuition for her last year. Thanks
to the RAYVETS scholarship, which was established in 2017 by a group of Raytheon employees who are veterans, she can push straight through to completion. Montoya aims to be a certified diabetes educator, working in Las Cruces to prevent and combat the disease.

What makes the RAYVETS scholarship even more special to Montoya is knowing that veterans just like her are contributing to her success. “It’s like someone is still looking over my shoulder and watching out for me,” she says.

Hunt Center for Entrepreneurship

Anchoring the public kickoff of the Ignite Aggie Discovery campaign is the announcement of a $2.5 million gift from the Hunt Family Foundation for Arrowhead Center, NMSU’s economic development and innovation hub. With the funds, Arrowhead Center has created new programming through the Hunt Center for Entrepreneurship, with the purpose of promoting economic growth in the Borderplex region. The Hunt Family Foundation gift aims to further Arrowhead Center’s work in commercializing discoveries and innovations, encouraging entrepreneurship, launching and developing new businesses and creating lasting partnerships in the Borderplex.

The Hunt Startup Sponsorship is one new program designed to accelerate student ventures. The semester-long sponsorships support a portion of a student entrepreneur’s time to significantly advance their project. In addition to being paid to focus part-time on their businesses, students receive training and mentorship through Studio G, Arrowhead Center’s student business incubator, as well as access to follow-on funding.

Supporting faculty excellence

Faculty at NMSU inspire students’ passion for learning, enable discovery, induce epiphanies and ultimately lead students to map their individual pathways to success. In addition to teaching and mentoring, faculty conduct ground-breaking research, create widely recognized works of art and performance, run outreach programs that disperse critical information to the broader New Mexico community and launch or advise entrepreneurial projects involving industry and the community.

Some of the key areas of exploration in NMSU’s future are sustainable agriculture, emerging infectious diseases, cybersecurity, energy sustainability and water resources. An expansion of direct research funding is needed in all areas. In addition, NMSU seeks to attract and retain its top-notch faculty and graduate students with new endowed chairs, professorships and fellowships.

Why a comprehensive campaign?

“Private funding and support for students and programs is always a necessity, and we are working hard to inspire donor support through the NMSU Foundation,” says NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers. “Launching a comprehensive campaign allows us to focus our energy and momentum on a common purpose throughout our entire system. We continue to be deeply grateful for the generosity and confidence that our Aggie community has shown us by investing in the future of our system and our students.” For more information about the Ignite Aggie Discovery campaign, or to be part of creating student success and breakthrough discoveries through your gift of any amount,
visit ignite.nmsu.edu and make a charitable investment.

Texas country singer Bri Bagwell, originally from Las Cruces, performs during the Ignite Aggie Discovery kickoff event at the ASNMSU Center for the Arts. The New Mexico State University system has embarked on a $125 million comprehensive campaign.

Woody Hunt, center left, chairman of the Hunt Family Foundation, presents a donation to the NMSU Foundation for Arrowhead Center during the Ignite Aggie campaign kickoff event at the Center for the Arts. Also pictured are Hunt Family Foundation President Joshua Hunt, center right, and Chancellor Garrey Carruthers.

April Montoya, a nursing student and Air Force veteran, is one of the first recipients of the RAYVETS Degree Completion Current Use Scholarship at New Mexico State University. 

Kathy Hansen, director and CEO of Arrowhead Center, shows off a new sign for the Hunt Center for Entrepreneurship. NMSU kicked off the public phase of its $125 million comprehensive campaign by announcing a $2.5 million gift from the Hunt Family Foundation to establish the center and support the growth of Arrowhead Center programming and partnerships in the Borderplex.