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NMSU looks back on 2014 as year of discovery, transformation

For New Mexico State University, it has been a year of milestones: a time for celebrations and anniversaries, renovations and grand openings, a time to say goodbye to old friends and welcome new ones.

Man surrounded by reporters
Among the new faces joining New Mexico State University in 2014, Mario Moccia was named athletic director. (NMSU Photo by Darren Phillips)
 Man speaking at podium
NMSU President Garrey Carruthers speaks during a news conference to officially announce the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine at New Mexico State University in July 2014. BCOM’s goal is to admit its first class in August 2016. (NMSU Photo by Darren Phillips.)
Two story building with people walking in front of it
The 40,000-square-foot Pete V. Domenici Hall opened at NMSU in September of 2014. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

“It has certainly been an exciting and transformational year,” NMSU President Garrey Carruthers said. “We have some new and talented people at a few of our senior leadership positions. And the face of our university continues to change with new construction, high-profile renovations and other important projects.”

While NMSU celebrated Carruthers’ one-year anniversary as its 27th president, in 2014 the university also celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Cooperative Extension Service.

As the service continues to provide face-to-face assistance for citizens across the state of New Mexico, the agency has adopted new technologies to reach people any time they need information.

“We have innovative mobile apps being developed here in our College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences to help Extension faculty located in every county of the state meet clientele demands,” said Jon C. Boren, associate dean and director of the Cooperative Extension Service at NMSU.

The year was marked by construction projects funded by general obligation bonds at Jacobs and Hardman Halls. The November election brought community support for new GO bonds to provide funding for NMSU libraries and to renovate College of Education facilities in Rentfrow Gym and engineering labs and classrooms in Jett Hall and Jett Annex.

The NMSU Board of Regents approved a name change for the university’s Center for the Arts. It is now called the Associated Students of NMSU Center for the Arts in recognition of the student organization’s substantial support in constructing the building.

“I’m extremely appreciative of the administration for working with us on this project,” ASNMSU President Wes Jackson said. “It’s a beautiful building and we’re excited that we could make this happen.”

A highly anticipated event was the grand opening of the Domenici Institute, which took shape in place of a former theater on campus. The $12.6 million renovation brought high-tech classrooms and auditoriums to the facility.

“This is the kind of environment where students can connect to the tools that will enhance their learning,” said Jim Hoffman, dean of the College of Business. “The graduate students and faculty members now have a space that’s beautiful and functional.”

The university also broke ground on a non-denominational spiritual center, which will be available for weddings, memorial services and as a location for peaceful meditation, regardless of faith.

In a move to benefit the health and well-being of people across the state, NMSU announced a public-private partnership with Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine. The school will be a freestanding, privately funded, separately licensed and independently operated entity, and is not a part of NMSU.

“I have long been impressed by the amount of medical and biomedical research, education and outreach performed by our outstanding faculty across NMSU and our community colleges,” Carruthers said. “This new partnership will serve to enhance those efforts, as well as our land-grant mission, as NMSU and BCOM plan to share faculty, research programs and various student-life services.”

NMSU also led the way with its doctorate in nursing practice, the first in the region. The program in the College of Health and Social Services’ School of Nursing received national accreditation for five years from the Commission on College Nursing Education.

NMSU Aggies were “Tough Enough to Wear Pink.” In 2014, the university worked with the Cowboys for Cancer Research toward the goal of a $1.5 million endowment. The organization provides funding for cancer researchers across the state, including a number of NMSU faculty members.

For the fiscal year, NMSU attracted almost $140 million in funding from outside sources for research and development activities. Researchers whose efforts account for 82 percent of those funds were honored at a special event.

“These outstanding staff and faculty researchers are leaders in the university’s efforts to bring in vital funding for critical research and development projects,” said NMSU’s Vice President for Research Vimal Chaitanya. 

NMSU was ranked first in New Mexico for its contribution to the public good, according to Washington Monthly. In addition, the university was ranked for the fifth year in a row by Diverse Issues in Higher Education, as a top producer of college degrees for Hispanic students. NMSU was among the top 10 universities graduating Hispanic students with bachelor’s degrees in education.

“New Mexico State University continues to meet our land-grant mission to educate our citizens and to provide educational access to our statewide community,” said Michael Morehead, dean of the College of Education. “This report indicates the ongoing success and commitment of the faculty and staff of NMSU.”

The Aggies were once again Western Athletic Conference champions in men’s basketball and both men’s and women’s golf. Before the year ended, Carruthers welcomed back Aggie alumnus Mario Moccia to lead a new era in Aggie athletics.

“I believe NMSU has an enormous amount of potential,” Moccia said, “and my goal as an individual and our goal as a staff will be to maximize that potential.”

NMSU had 79 doctoral candidates maximizing their potential for the December commencement. It’s the largest group of Ph.D. candidates at the university in the last five years.

Among that class of Ph.D.s was the first alumnus of NMSU’s College Migrant Assistance Program to receive a doctorate. Daniel Ramirez-Gordillo graduated in December with a Ph.D. in neurobiology. He credits the staff of NMSU’s CAMP program, which serves first generation college freshmen who come from migrant/seasonal farmworker backgrounds, and his professors for helping him to discover his true calling.

“I was like this close to dropping out,” Ramirez-Gordillo said about his first semester at NMSU. “So from dropping out, I ended up graduating with honors. If it wasn’t for the CAMP program, if it wasn’t for Dr. (Elba) Serrano (NMSU Regents Professor of biology) and the other professors, I would have never made it.”

Look back at some of NMSU’s memorable images of 2014 at http://youtu.be/vcf8ZyWtLf0 .