Writer: D'Lyn Ford
LAS CRUCES - The state and students are new, but with 23 years of fall semester experience, Wesley Holley feels right at home leading academic programs for New Mexico State University's College of Agriculture and Home Economics.
Holley joins NMSU after a career with Oklahoma State University, where he was an agricultural education professor, assistant dean for academic programs and most recently, university registrar. He is retired from OSU.
On the first day of classes, Holley reveled in the sight of students streaming into the office. "I'm fired up because I like being involved with students," he said.
As associate dean and associate director for academic programs, he will oversee instruction for the college's 1,700 undergraduate and graduate students, whose majors range from animal and range sciences to hotel, restaurant and tourism management.
Holley, whose goals are to increase enrollment, expand contact with alumni and improve student retention, said he will seek ideas from faculty and students. "My most significant responsibility will be to listen and find out what faculty and students are interested in achieving," he said.
He hopes to expand distance education offerings and make it easier for students to transfer credits from community colleges to NMSU.
Enrollment grew by 1,000 students during Holley's tenure as assistant dean for academic programs with OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. "We worked based on a plan involving all the departments that spelled out goals, needs and new programs for faculty and students," he said.
Another statistic Holley likes to cite is the number of OSU students from the college who were selected as Harry S. Truman Scholars: five students in seven years. The OSU students were among about 75 university seniors selected nationally each year for $30,000 scholarships, based on their academic records and commitment to careers in public service.
"I'm looking forward to being involved with student organizations at NMSU, which is one of my priorities," Holley said. "Students' success is where our success lies."
He has experience leading environmental science and preveterinary programs, both of which are offered at NMSU. From 1989 to 2001, he served as coordinator for OSU's general agriculture and veterinary science programs. From 1994 to 2001, he headed the environmental sciences program.
A faculty member since 1980, Holley holds bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in agricultural education, all from OSU. He taught an agricultural orientation class for every new freshman in the college for 12 years.
In 2001, he began a two-year stint as university registrar. "I missed the kind of interaction with students I'd had on the college level," he said. "One reason I'm coming to NMSU is for the opportunity to foster close relationships between faculty and students. When you have that feeling of closeness, it spreads throughout the college."
"Wesley will be a great advocate for our students and for our college," Dean Jerry Schickedanz said. "By building our students' reputations, he will build our college's reputation."
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