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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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105 Years After His Death, Sam Steel Awarded NMSU Degree

LAS CRUCES -- One hundred and five years after he was scheduled to be the first graduate of a college in the New Mexico Territory, a bachelor's degree will be conferred upon Samuel Steel.


In 1893, Steel was fatally shot at the age of 17, two months before he was to become the first graduate of what is now New Mexico State University.

On Friday, May 15, Steel's nephews, Capt. Gordon Steel of the U.S. Air Force, Ric Steel of El Paso and namesake Dr. Samuel Steel of San Francisco, will accept the honorary degree at a pregraduation ceremony. Beginning at 4 p.m. in the university's Music Recital Hall, approximately 100 new grads will be inducted in the Sam Steel Society.

The society was founded on the 100th anniversary of Steel's death to serve as an alumni and friends organization for the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences . The day before each fall and spring commencement, new graduates are inducted.

The degree conferral will be followed by the college's first posthumous induction into the society. Patrick Pirtle completed all degree requirements to receive a bachelor's degree in animal and range sciences in December. He delayed graduation so he could compete on the NMSU equestrian team, but unexpectedly died of natural causes on Jan. 23.

Honorary memberships into the society will be conferred on eight individuals during the ceremony: state Rep. Bill Porter of Hatch; Lynn Chumbley, president of the Associated Students of NMSU; state Rep. G.X. McSherry of Deming; Glen Staten, NMSU professor emeritus and award-winning cotton breeder; Ralph Stucky, founder of NMSU's Water Resources Research Institute; Ralph Skaggs, former department head of the NMSU dairy science; Austin Hoover, NMSU archivist; and Randy Farmer, owner of the Greenhouse in Las Cruces.