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Las Cruces resident, NMSU alumna receives state fundraising award

The Association of Fundraising Professionals’ New Mexico chapter honored New Mexico State University alumna and Las Cruces resident, Ammu Devasthali, as the 2018 Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser of Southern New Mexico.

Many people standing in a group posing together
Ammu Devasthali (center) poses with her award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals and is joined by her husband Rama and a handful of NMSU leaders, including Chancellor Dan Arvizu (second from left), Deputy Provost Greg Fant (back row), NMSU Foundation Interim President Tina Byford (second from right) and Associate Vice President of Alumni and Donor Relations Leslie Cervantes (far right). NMSU Courtesy Photo [NOV 2018]

Devasthali and her husband Rama have taken active roles in Las Cruces and across southern New Mexico to enhance the arts culturally and in education. The duo pioneered both Las Cruces campus additions of the ASNMSU Center for the Arts and the new visual arts facility that will open next fall. Both buildings are funded through a general obligation bond approved by voters, an initiative the Devasthalis led at the grassroots level by knocking on doors, funding signage campaigns, leading committees and fundraising to build additional private support.

“We’re incredibly proud of Dr. Devasthali and her support of NMSU over the years,” said NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu. “This is a great moment for NMSU and our Aggie family, and we are pleased to see her honored for all that she does to make NMSU a leading institution and gateway to the arts for our community.”

Devasthali’s commitment to the arts comes from her desire to help NMSU become proactive leaders in New Mexico’s $5.6 billion arts and cultural economy. Research supporting the general obligation bond shows that the arts industry provides employment for more than 76,000 New Mexicans and contributes roughly $2.2 billion in wages and salaries annually.

“Ammu is an inspiring example of what NMSU alumni can do in their communities,” said Tina Byford, interim president of the NMSU Foundation. “As a student of the Department of Art, she knew firsthand the need for better arts facilities and made it her mission to lead the charge. In turn, she’s helping NMSU train the next generation of talented Aggies ready to fill the gap and grow this economic driver for New Mexico.”

The new visual arts facility currently under construction along University Avenue will be named Devasthali Hall in honor of Ammu and Rama Devasthali’s leadership. Along with those efforts, the couple sponsors an endowed scholarship in NMSU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and an endowment for KRWG-FM. As a board member of the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico, Devasthali also helped create a scholarship program, called Springboard, that for more than a decade, has provided financial assistance to traditional and non-traditional female students at Doña Ana Community College and other vocational training schools in southern New Mexico. Additionally, she has served on the boards for Ocotillo Institute for Social Justice, The Las Cruces Arts Fair and the Downtown Las Cruces Partnership Think Tank.

Devasthali earned her doctorate in Soviet Literature from Moscow State University, and after coming to the United States with her husband, an infant and little financial means, she graduated with two master’s degrees from NMSU in 1993 and 1996.