Around Aggieland

2019 President’s Associates Virtual Ball by the numbers

The President’s Associates Ball alternates each year between the large President’s Associates Ball gala event and the President’s
Associates Virtual Ball. In spring 2019, the NMSU Foundation held a Virtual Ball that featured an online auction, sponsorship
opportunities and three mini dinners at local restaurants attended by supporters and President’s Associates Scholars.

Mark your calendars for the 2020 President’s Associates Ball 

Saturday, April 18, 2020 

Posted by grel in Fall 2019

DACC Dental Hygiene Program helps improve smiles in Las Cruces, across the globe

Imagine a college experience with service learning that makes a profound difference in the lives of students and their clients. The NMSU Doña Ana Community College Dental Hygiene Program has served the needs of the poor in India, provided dental services to local children and helped pioneer a dental clinic at Las Cruces Public School’s Lynn Middle School, the first community school in southern New Mexico.  

The middle school provides services to children and their families to improve health, well-being and student learning. The DACC Happy Smiles School based dental clinic at Lynn also is the first of its kind in the southern part of the state. 

Lynn partners with community agencies to bring mental health services, a food pantry, clothing and free dental services to students. Working with those in need is nothing new for DACC Dental Program students. 

In early 2018, 30 students, dental and medical professionals traveled to India and provided free dental services to more than 3,500 children and adults. The program also put together its first Happy Smiles two-day free dental hygiene clinic that served children from ages 2-14 who had no dental insurance or access to dental services.   

“Dental services play a significant role in developing healthy children and healthy communities,” says Elmer Gonzalez, program director of the Dental Hygiene Program. “The work we do at the clinic will improve oral health awareness, disease prevention, and provide school children with the tools to grow and develop positive oral health habits.” 

The dental clinic at Lynn opened in April 2019. The clinic operates every Wednesday, and sees at least five children per day. Two dental hygiene students provide dental health services to build their clinical and social skills. Faculty members supervise DACC students at all times. 

DACC students Justice Au (right) and Ariana Armijo provide dental health services at the clinic, which opened in April 2019.

“The faculty and students at Lynn are very welcoming and make our services feel appreciated,” says Janaya Bunker, a Lynn graduate and the DACC Dental Clinic Coordinator at the school. 

Thanks to Gonzalez and the NMSU Foundation, corporate sponsors have provided funding for this collaboration. Delta Dental of New Mexico has provided two grants to purchase mobile dental equipment and funding for services. The Anderson Charitable Foundation also awarded a challenge grant after the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico awarded resources for a dental clinic in southern Doña Ana County. Another project scheduled for the 2019-2020 winter holiday break is a trip to provide dental services to clients in Vietnam. 

Eddie Binder

Elmer Gonzalez, program director of the DACC Dental Hygiene Program, treats a student at the dental clinic at Lynn Middle School in Las Cruces.

Posted by grel in Fall 2019

Faculty Successes Fall 2019

Reza Foudazi

Foudazi to develop new technologies for advanced water treatment

Reza Foudazi, NMSU chemical and materials engineering assistant professor, is working on a project involving new methods for advanced water treatment. 

He has received a three-year, nearly $315,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for his project, “Stimuli-responsive membranes from mesophase templating.” Through the development of new membrane technologies, Foudazi’s project will evaluate how to provide access to low-cost, energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable methods for water treatment processes. Many types of membranes are routinely used in water treatment including microfiltration, ultrafiltration, nanofiltration and reverse osmosis.   

“The overall goal of this project is to develop ultrafiltration membranes through cost-effective green chemistry, while simultaneously increasing their permeability, to reduce the cost and energy of water treatment,” Foudazi says. “The key feature in this project is to have the membrane stimuli responsive. We design the membranes in a way that their pore size can be changed by the temperature or the pH of the water.”

Tiffany Acosta

Kevin Houston


Professor awarded $1.48 million grant to study Tamoxifen resistance

NMSU professor Kevin Houston ’98 discovered a key to what causes resistance to Tamoxifen, a drug used for more than 40 years to treat metastatic breast cancers. Houston’s discovery led the National Institutes of Health to award him a $1.48 million, four-year grant to take his research to the next level. 

The chemistry and biochemistry professor’s goal is to help breast cancer patients by better understanding Tamoxifen or anti-estrogen treatment resistance. He and his team seek to identify resistance in its early stages so doctors can change treatments and provide better patient care. 

The NIH funds allow Houston to hire a postdoctoral student and two graduate students, but Houston also invites four to five undergraduates to participate in his research. 

“My undergrads, they run projects,” Houston says. “They’re growing cells. They’re treating cells. They’re presenting data. Here we have a true balance between research and teaching.”

Minerva Baumann ’13

The STEM Outreach Center

STEM Outreach Center receives $2.2 million to continue programs

The STEM Outreach Center, housed in the NMSU College of Education, has received $2.2 million to continue its out-of-school time programs to benefit students in grades K-8 for the 2019-2020 school year.

The funding is provided by the New Mexico Public Education Department’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program and helps the STEM Outreach Center implement programs at 25 schools in the Gadsden Independent School District, Hatch Valley Public Schools and Las Cruces Public Schools.

Among the benefits of out-of-school time programs are increasing student participation and achievement in STEM fields; engaging students, parents and teachers by incorporating emerging technologies; and socialization opportunities for students across demographic barriers. Out-of-school time programs also provide safe, secure locations for students, along with encouragement of academic success.

In late 2019, the STEM Outreach Center will request additional funding from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program for the next four years.

Adriana M. Chávez ’19

Posted by grel in Fall 2019

Aggie bragging rights Fall 2019

Center for World University Rankings lists NMSU among top four percent

According to the 2019-2020 Center for World University Rankings, NMSU has been ranked in the top four percent of institutions of higher education worldwide. With 20,000 degree-granting institutions of higher education worldwide evaluated, this year NMSU ranked 783rd overall and earned a national rank of 187th. 

The Center for World University Rankings distributes the only global university performance tables that gauge both the quality of education and training of students along with prestige of faculty members and the quality of their research without the use of surveys and university data submissions. 

NMSU ranks as a national top tier university

For the seventh time in eight years, NMSU has been recognized as a top tier university according to the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges for 2020 National University rankings. NMSU also ranked as a top public university and a top performer on social mobility as well as for ethnic diversity. The rankings are based on assessment of excellence, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, graduation rate performances, and the number of alumni who give back. 

Hispanic Outlook features NMSU on Top 100 Colleges and Universities for Hispanics

In the August 2019 issue of The Hispanic Outlook on Education Magazine, NMSU has been recognized on the Top 100 Colleges and Universities for Hispanics list. NMSU ranked 48th in both total enrollment for four-year schools and total graduate degrees granted, master’s and doctoral degrees, using data from the Department of Education. 

Computer science ranks in top 25 nationally

NMSU ranked 22nd among four-year public universities in the U.S., which includes more than 200 institutions, for enrolling and graduating women in computer science, according to a recent data analysis compiled by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Chronicle analyzes data on higher education to compare colleges on various measures and publishes its analysis in a weekly feature called “Chronicle Lists,” put together by Ruth Hammond, a senior editor. The data is from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, published by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

Posted by grel in Fall 2019

College of Education receives state help to fund scholarships for aspiring teachers

Faced with the rising number of teacher vacancies throughout New Mexico, state policy makers are addressing the issue by providing funds to help aspiring teachers pay for their college tuition.

Aracely Estrada, far left, a current educational assistant, works with students during University Hills Elementary School’s afterschool program in Las Cruces. Seated on the floor with students is former educational assistant Vanessa Loya. Educational assistants, who are completing teacher programs and plan to become licensed teachers in New Mexico, may qualify to receive scholarships at NMSU as part of two acts passed by the state legislature in 2019.

As part of the Teacher Preparation Affordability Act and the Grow Your Own Teachers Act, NMSU has received $700,000 in funds to provide scholarships to students studying to become teachers, as well as area educational assistants completing programs to become licensed teachers in New Mexico.

The scholarships will be awarded to sophomores, juniors and seniors in the college. In spring 2020, second-semester freshmen who are 120 days from having received their high school diploma will qualify for funds as well.

“These scholarships will help reduce the cost for teachers to earn licensure, which will allow early career teachers an opportunity to take home more money and not have a lot of student loans,” says Henrietta Williams Pichon, NMSU College of Education interim associate dean for academic affairs.

In all, the New Mexico Higher Education Department is making $10 million in scholarships available to students in colleges and universities throughout the state. The state legislature passed the Grow Your Own Teachers Act in early 2019, and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Teacher Preparation Affordability Act into law in March 2019.

According to a report by researchers in the NMSU College of Education, there were 740 teacher vacancies in New Mexico in 2018, compared to 476 teacher vacancies in 2017. The college is working on several initiatives to address teacher vacancies in the state. The college also houses the Alternative Licensure Program, a program of study approved by the New Mexico Public Education Department that leads to an initial teacher licensure through online and in-person courses. Program participants may obtain a license in elementary, secondary or special education in New Mexico.

For more information about the College of Education at NMSU visit

Adriana M. Chávez ’19

Posted by grel in Fall 2019

NMSU welcomes new administrators

Four new administrators joined NMSU in summer and fall 2019. In July, Carol Parker started as provost, Jim Chavez ’81 started as Physical Science Laboratory director, and Roy Collins III started as the new general counsel and chief legal affairs officer, while in September, Ruth A. Johnston started as the strategic chief financial officer. 

Parker was formerly senior adviser for academic affairs and provost at the University of Texas at El Paso. Parker started her academic career as a first-generation community college student and went on to complete her baccalaureate education while working full time. She strongly believes in the power of higher education to provide a vehicle for social mobility. 

Parker has more than two decades of experience as a higher education administrator. She worked at the University of New Mexico from 2013-2017 as senior vice provost for academic affairs. Previous to that, she was an associate dean and director at the UNM School of Law. 

A former vice president at Sandia National Laboratories, Chavez manages PSL’s strategic direction, establishing national defense and security policies and the staffing and compensation practices necessary to effectively compete for and deliver products and services in the areas of research and technology. 

Chavez previously served as a director at Keystone International, providing global security consulting services for national laboratories, government agencies and groups. He also was responsible for building national security programs for Keystone. 

Collins was previously associate general counsel and interim general counsel at the University of Hartford. Collins, a native of Galveston, Texas, worked at Hartford since 2010. He previously served as associate general counsel at Idaho State University and assistant general counsel at Texas Southern University. He also served as commercial counsel for Chrysler Corporation and had his own private law practice. 

As strategic chief financial officer, Johnston helps set system-wide strategy, define financial objectives of individual entities within the university and drive operational efficiency while creating a climate of accountability. Johnston also provides innovative and strategic guidance to optimize NMSU’s existing, underutilized and untapped assets including real estate holdings.

Johnston joined NMSU after recently serving as vice chancellor for the University of Washington Bothell Planning and Administration. She served as first vice president on the Western Association of College and University Business Officers board of directors, and also has served on the Network of Change and Continuous Improvement board. 

Adriana M. Chávez ’19

Carol Parker

Jim Chavez

Roy Collins III

Ruth A. Johnston

Posted by grel in Fall 2019

Aggie Milestones

130 years

The groundwork for the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences was established in 1889. Early college curriculum included courses in chemistry, meteorology, botany and human physiology.

105 years

NMSU’s rivalry with the University of Texas at El Paso began with a Halloween football game in 1914. The Aggies won 19-0. NMSU will host the Miners Nov. 23 in Aggie Memorial Stadium. 

55 years

The College of Business began operating in fall 1964. Its first dean was G.L. Guthrie.

35 years

NMSU’s Noche de Luminarias began in 1984. The event is now one of the largest luminaria displays in the state, with candle-lit paper bags illuminating the paths along Piñon Hall, the duck pond, the International Mall and Corbett Center Student Union.

15 years

In 2004, NMSU established the state’s first Honors College. The college is housed in the Conroy Honors Center, one of the oldest buildings on campus, named for former NMSU President William B. Conroy. 

The College of Business

NMSU’s Noche de Luminarias

Conroy Honors Center

Posted by grel in Fall 2019

Atomic Aggies finish sixth at Spaceport America Cup

In its second year competing in the Spaceport America Cup, the Atomic Aggies executed a successful rocket launch. The 25-member group began working in August 2018 to construct the 8-foot rocket.

After a successful launch, NMSU’s high-powered rocketry team, the Atomic Aggies, finished sixth at the third annual Spaceport America Cup in June 2019 in Las Cruces. 

In the 10,000-feet commercial off the shelf, all propulsion types category, 46 teams competed to design, build and launch rockets. Overall, the Atomic Aggies finished 13th out of 124 schools in only their second year in the competition. 

The team included 25 members, who built an 8-foot, 55-pound rocket that climbed to 12,202 feet at the event. Scores are determined by proximity to predicted altitude, overall design soundness, number of components manufactured in-house and a technical report.

Tiffany Acosta












Posted by grel in Fall 2019

Two famed NMSU professors leave behind lasting legacies

Tony Award-winning playwright Mark Medoff and Pulitzer Prize-nominated short story writer Lee K. Abbott ’70 ’73 both died in spring 2019.

Mark Medoff

Lee K. Abbott

A Stanford graduate, Medoff taught at NMSU for more than 50 years. He founded the Creative Media Institute and co-founded the American Southwest Theatre Company. He is internationally known for his Tony Award-winning play and Oscar-nominated screenplay “Children of a Lesser God.”

Abbott was a Las Cruces native who graduated from NMSU with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Abbott’s short stories and essays appeared in Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly, The Georgia Review and The New York Times Book Review, among others. He went on to teach at The Ohio State University until he retired in 2012 and returned to teaching at NMSU in 2015. Abbott was twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Minerva Baumann ’13












Posted by grel in Fall 2019

New hotel, investment to help prepare HRTM students for hospitality careers

In July 2019, the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management, based in the NMSU College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, celebrated the opening of the Courtyard by Marriot, a 126-room hotel built on NMSU property that will serve as an experiential learning environment for HRTM students.

The Courtyard by Marriott near the NMSU campus celebrated its grand opening in July 2019. The 126-room hotel offers real world, hands-on experience to NMSU students through jobs and internships.

The hotel, developed and managed by Total Management Systems, will offer real world, hands-on experience to HRTM students through jobs and internships. Students also will receive career training from TMS executives as part of a classroom lecture series that provides insight into hotel management skills.

To further hospitality career exploration, the school will use a four-year, $400,000 investment from the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation to create a Hospitality Futures Center. The new center will promote the importance of hospitality education and illustrate the broad career paths in the changing industry. 

Part of the funding will help refine existing recruiting, outreach and professional development programs, and design new hospitality career workshops targeted to high school students, teachers, guidance counselors and community college students.

Carlos Andres López ’10












Posted by grel in Fall 2019