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NMSU President’s Associates Ball goes virtual with online auction fundraiser

Last spring, the scene was all glitz and glamour as generous Aggie donors, dressed to the nines, gathered for a special night of food, drinks and entertainment at the New Mexico State University President’s Associates Ball. The PA Ball is a celebration and fundraiser that supports NMSU’s top academic scholarship, and was a night for donors to meet the scholarship recipients and renew their support of the program.

Woman with crossed arms from waist up
Annie Stout, a 2016 graduate of Las Cruces High School majoring in business at New Mexico State University, is one of 15 freshmen who received President’s Associates Scholarships this academic year, thanks to funds raised during last spring’s PA Ball fundraiser. This year, the PA Ball goes virtual, with an online auction featuring entertainment and travel packages. (NMSU photo by Andres Leighton)
Candle in a glass bowl with flowers sitting on a table
New Mexico State University’s President’s Associates Virtual Ball skips the fancy table settings in favor of an online auction and smaller hosted dinners. (NMSU photo by Amanda Bradford)

Next month, the scene will be just as impactful – but a bit more casual – as PA scholarship supporters trade their patent pumps and bow ties for slippers and fuzzy robes. This year’s event is a PA Virtual Ball, featuring an online auction of VIP experience packages and opportunities to attend privately hosted mini-dinners in Las Cruces, Albuquerque and Phoenix.

A highlight of the online auction will be floor seat packages at the Friday and Saturday evening Garth Brooks concerts in April, along with other surprise concert perks. Also up for bidding is a guitar signed by Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.

Other auction items include a Dallas Opera travel package, a Denver Broncos football game package, a local wine tour, sporting events and dining experience packages.

While the venue may have changed, the goal has not: NMSU hopes to raise another $50,000 with the virtual gala – enough to support another 15 incoming freshman scholars from across New Mexico throughout four years of their undergraduate degree program.

“Our PA Ball is an event that brings the Las Cruces community together to support students at NMSU, and it will return in 2018 with an exceptional event that highlights the culinary and creative talents of our students,” said NMSU Foundation President Andrea Tawney. “Alternating our gala event with an exciting online auction allows us to create a fun opportunity for members of our Aggie community to make an impact with their gifts of any amount, all while directing all of our proceeds to helping these dedicated students reach their full potential. It’s a win-win.”

The President’s Associates Scholarship, which was established by late NMSU President Emeritus Gerald Thomas in 1978 as the university’s first leadership giving program, is awarded to select freshmen enrolling from high schools in New Mexico who have demonstrated their academic excellence and community service. To be considered, students must have outstanding grades and test scores, along with extracurricular experiences that enhanced their communities and local schools.

Their high achievement is rewarded with a scholarship that covers the full cost of tuition, fees and housing, plus an additional annual stipend of $3,250 for other educational expenses. Only 15 freshmen are selected each year, and the NMSU Foundation is working to build the scholarship’s endowment with additional gifts that will support more students like Annie Stout, a 2016 graduate of Las Cruces High School majoring in business with plans to become a lawyer.

“To me, the PA Scholarship is an open door,” Stout said. “It means going to college and leaving debt-free. This scholarship has shown me the impact that giving back can have. Those who decided to give to this cause have quite literally shaped my future and changed my life. And being a recipient of this really inspires me to be successful so that one day I, too, can give someone this opportunity.”

Sponsorship opportunities for the PA Virtual Ball are still available. Current sponsors include Crimson Sponsor Wells Fargo, White Sponsor Century Bank and Book Sponsors Stout Hardwood, Bradbury Stamm and Western Heritage Bank. For more information about sponsorships or tickets to the mini-dinners, contact Cindy Nicholson at cindynic@nmsu.edu or 575-646-4665.

“Last year, we set out to reinvigorate the fundraising effort for our President’s Associates Scholarship, and thanks to our business partners and Aggie supporters, we were able to fund all of the freshman scholars for the fall 2016 class,” Tawney said. “We consider ourselves so fortunate to be in one of the most generous and philanthropic communities in the country, and we’re extremely grateful to all of the supporters who stepped up and who continue to create opportunities for our students.

More information about the PA Virtual Ball online auction items will be available at advancing.nmsu.edu/PAVirtualBall. Bidding for all items, including the Garth Brooks concert package, begins March 29, but the concert package bidding closes at 10 p.m. April 4. Bidding for all other auction items closes at 10 p.m. April 21.


- Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood concert tickets
- Guitar signed by Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood
- Dallas Opera/Arts District experience including tickets, wine reception, parking and airfare
- 2017 season Denver Broncos football game package
- 2018 WAC Basketball Tournament package, including Aggie Air charter with Chancellor Carruthers and all session game tickets
- 2018 Phoenix Open, club-level passes
- Suite package at El Paso Chihuahuas game
- Birthday party with Pistol Pete and NMSU Cheerleaders
- Super Bowl party for 50 guests at Club 27
- NMSU Alumni license plates and Classic Aggie items
- More to come!


Crimson Sponsor - $3,250: Support a PA Scholar for an academic year
White Sponsor - $1,625: Support a PA Scholar for a semester
Book Sponsor - $500: Buy two books for a PA Scholar

(Tickets are $125 each or $200 per couple. Call 575-646-4665 for details.)

April 1: Artichoke Café, Albuquerque, hosted by Smoky Torgerson
April 6: True Foods Kitchen, Phoenix, hosted by Joel Granger
April 20: Salud de Mesilla, Las Cruces, hosted by Diana Seward
April 21: St. Clair Winery & Bistro, Las Cruces, hosted by Ammu Devasthali