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Late NMSU professor leaves legacy of persistence, faith, positivity

Oftentimes those who overcome hardships early in life develop the greatest passion for helping others overcome theirs. Such was the case for Robert Levi Gallegos, who came to NMSU in 1976 and taught in the then-College of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction for 36 years. Gallegos passed away in 2021.

Born in Cuba, New Mexico, as the second youngest of eight, Gallegos spent his first two years of elementary school in what he called “the baby room” because he could not yet speak English.

He was forever shaped by that experience and became driven to pursue challenging educational and professional goals, eventually using his own success to propel others to do the same. His special expertise was methodology—in particular, teaching teachers how to bring out the best in bilingual students.

Among his many achievements, Gallegos developed and directed the Title VII Bilingual Education Doctoral Fellowship Program and Project MOVEMOS, a nationally recognized teacher-preparation undergraduate program. He raised more than $5 million in grant funding that supported 50 Bilingual Fellows to earn doctorates and hundreds of others to earn master’s degrees. He also lent his expertise as an editor for academic journals and served on boards of national and international education organizations.

Gallegos believed success came through collaboration. One of his family members shares that he always encouraged patience and working together with colleagues to exchange ideas. Another noted that his kindness, caring, love and support were not only for family, but shown toward his students as well.

Indeed, nearly all his former students remember he mentored with his heart as well as his intellect, and how, in his gentle way, he would ask subtle yet critical questions that could awaken one’s awareness. As one nephew, Cal Cordova, affectionately describes him, “He was a deep thinker and a man of vision, with a light touch of crazy.”

Thanks to Gallegos and his wife, Professor Emerita Anne Gallegos, his legacy will live in perpetuity through four already-funded endowed scholarships. A fifth, the Roberto Gallegos Rural Northern New Mexico Scholarship, is currently underway. According to Anne Gallegos, this final scholarship will help young people with “determination and potential but who lack the resources to go to college.”

To honor Robert Gallegos’ memory and continue his enduring legacy of helping talented rural students, visit


Robert Levi Gallegos, who taught in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at NMSU for 36 years, passed away in 2021. He is remembered for helping bilingual students succeed.


Robert Levi Gallegos and his wife, Anne Gallegos, both taught at NMSU, and have four endowed scholarships with a fifth underway.