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Former dean influenced alumni, established prominent programs

In his 15-year tenure as College of Business dean, Curtis Graham became known for the impact he made on student success, program growth and development and infrastructure. Graham, who passed away in December 2021, leaves a legacy filled with leadership and remarkable accomplishments.

In 1979, Graham began his career at NMSU as dean of the College of Business Administration and Economics. Career achievements as dean included many successful projects such as the acquisition and construction of the Business Complex North building, initiating substantial growth in the number and quality of programs, significantly increasing student enrollment, and receiving national recognition and Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business accreditation in the college’s accounting department. He also was part of the commission and creation of the unique and business-appropriate sculpture known as “The Traders,” which can be found at the plaza area outside of the Business Complex.

Many NMSU alumni and faculty say Graham had a larger-than-life personality who made a difference during their experience at the College of Business.

“The College of Business flourished under his leadership, and I’m blessed to have been a student in those days,” says Paula Fuchs ’91 ’93, college associate professor. “Dean Graham left a lasting legacy, one that we still feel today. It’s an honor for me to strive to support our students and continue to provide our students a sense of home here in the College of Business.” 

For others, like John Cordova ’81 ’83, Graham provided faith and opportunities for him to earn the best education he could after completing his undergraduate work in the College of Business, and Cordova says he owes much of his success to Graham’s guidance.

“I completed my MBA and have gone on to a 40-year career in sports business, with stops at Major League Baseball, Miller Brewing, the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club and 27 years at The Coca-Cola Company,” Cordova says. “I do not know if those type relationships exist any longer between students and faculty, but I am grateful they did during my time.”

While representing stability and consistent leadership for students in the College of Business, Graham also was involved with the establishment of the PGA Golf Management program at NMSU.

“Dean Curtis Graham was instrumental at NMSU in being selected as the third accredited PGA Golf Management Program back in 1987,” says Pat Gavin ’87 ’91, director of the PGA Golf Management Program. “He worked with Guy Wimberly and Herb Wimberly to make a dream a reality. Curtis was a big supporter of the program.”

Graham stepped down as dean in 1994, but continued at NMSU as an accounting professor until his retirement in 2001. 

Former College of Business Dean Curtis Graham (right), walking on campus with Eddie Groth, played a vital role in projects such as construction of the Business Complex North building and commission and creation of "The Traders" sculpture.