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NMSU honors Carlsbad banker, former Regent with Presidential Medallion

Don Kidd knows the value of an education and he actively supports providing educational opportunities for the people of New Mexico.


Three men and a woman holding an award
Don Kidd, left, chief executive officer of Western Commerce Bank, and his wife, Sarrah, pose with Chancellor Garrey Carruthers and Provost Dan Howard, right, after receiving a Donor Recognition for their generosity and visionary leadership in philanthropy and service to New Mexico State University, during the 2017 fall convocation ceremony at the Atkinson Recital Hall. Don Kidd was also decorated with the NMSU Presidential Medallion. (NMSU photo by Andres Leighton)

New Mexico State University honored the Carlsbad banker, former New Mexico Senator and former NMSU Regent with the Presidential Medallion during the 2017 fall convocation Aug. 15.

“We are honoring Don Kidd for his advocacy for higher education, for his service to NMSU as a supporter and former Regent, for his service in the New Mexico Legislature and for the many years of mentoring he has provided to students and his colleagues,” said NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers.

This is the third NMSU recognition Don Kidd has received. He received an honorary doctorate in 2006 and the College of Business Traders Award in 2009.

Kidd and his wife, Sarrah, also were honored with a special Donor Recognition during convocation “in honor of their unwavering generosity and visionary leadership in philanthropy and service that has impacted countless New Mexicans.”

While Don Kidd’s profession is banking, the Western Commerce Bank chief executive officer’s service to New Mexico goes beyond the financial world.

“Being associated with the university has provided the opportunity to affect people’s lives,” Kidd said. “I appreciate having the opportunity to be a factor in their lives at a very important time.”

Those opportunities have come in the form of co-sponsoring the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship bill as a state senator, establishing a transfer scholarship for NMSU-Carlsbad students to attend NMSU’s Las Cruces campus, and establishing the Don and Sarrah Kidd Endowed Chair in Literacy in the College of Education.

“Education is a little like money; it’s not important unless you do not have any,” Kidd said.

Kidd began his association with NMSU by working with the Carlsbad branch beginning in 1972. He served as an NMSU Regent from 1985-1991 before representing Eddy, Lea and Otero counties as the District 34 Senator from 1993 to 2005.

Co-sponsoring the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship is one of his most memorable accomplishments during his tenure in the legislature.

“The state has given out 114,000 scholarships,” he said. “I’m sure a good portion of those students would not have had a chance to go to college without the lottery scholarship.”

Another way Kidd and his wife, Sarrah, have encouraged students to continue their education is with the Don and Sarrah Kidd NMSU Scholarship Fund.

“I wanted to do something that would last,” he said. “We started the transfer scholarship program for Carlsbad students. We give two scholarships a year to students transferring to the Las Cruces campus.”

Kidd has a list of the recipients of the scholarship and has kept track of their accomplishments.

“I believe we have given 58 scholarships and have a 90-percent graduation rate,” he said. “The key to this high graduation rate is that they have to show signs that they can succeed. They have to have 47 hours at the branch and a 3.2 grade point average to be eligible for the scholarship.”

In addition, a separate scholarship endowment in the College of Business is geared to non-traditional students who do not qualify for the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship, those who are single parents with a dependent child, those who have a financial need and those who are majoring in accounting or finance in the College of Business.

Kidd realizes that reading is the key to education. He is a past chairman of the Carlsbad Literacy Program.

The Don and Sarrah Kidd Endowment Chair in Literacy in the NMSU College of Education was established in 2008 to attract and reward high quality teaching, research, service and outreach to New Mexico’s public schools. The chair also collaborates with the New Mexico Coalition for Literacy whose focus is adult literacy.

Besides being on the NMSU Board of Regents, Kidd has been a supporter of the NMSU Art Gallery and KRWG-TV. He has been an NMSU Foundation Board member and a member of the NMSU Crimson Society. He is a member of the NMSU Pioneers and President’s Associates.

Kidd’s support of higher education also includes being a past president of the New Mexico Education Assistance Foundation, and serving on the New Mexico Roundtable on the Future of Higher Education.

Kidd encourages professional continuing education. He is one of the founding directors and past chairman of the Western States School of Business housed at the University of New Mexico, and is a past president of the New Mexico Bankers Association and a member of the American Bankers Association and the Independent Community Bankers Association.

He has also been involved with the New Mexico Appleseed, which strives to correct structural barriers to opportunity by designing and advocating for effective solutions through policy, legislative and market-based reform of issues like hunger, education and homelessness.