New Mexico State University names first Regents Professors

Jan. 9, 2002 by Karl Hill NMSU News Center

Six senior faculty members have been selected as New Mexico State University’s first Regents Professors in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the university’s mission.

They are linguist and author Ricardo Aguilar-Melantzon, futurist Lowell B. Catlett, novelist and creative writing teacher Kevin C. McIlvoy, economist James T. Peach, anthropologist Wenda R. Trevathan and chemist Joseph Wang.

The Regents Professorships were announced Jan. 3 at a convocation to begin the spring semester. Also recognized was engineering Professor William Kersting, the university’s first PNM Professor of Utility Management.

“New Mexico State University has exceptional faculty who elect to spend their careers at this institution, even though more lucrative or prestigious opportunities may exist elsewhere,” said Provost William Flores. “The university and those it serves are fortunate to have these distinguished scholars on the NMSU faculty and the Regents Professorship is conferred on the recipients with profound appreciation for their contributions.”

Regents Professors hold the title as long as they continue teaching at New Mexico State. The honor carries with it an annual stipend of $12,500 to supplement the recipient’s salary.

Aguilar, a professor in the Department of Languages and Linguistics for more than a decade, is known internationally for his research in Chicano literature and his own creative writing. He received the Book of the Year Award from the Southwest Regional Library Association in 1984 for “Palabra nueva: cuentos chicanos” and his creative works have been included in several anthologies of Chicano writing.

Catlett, a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics for more than 20 years, is internationally recognized for his expertise in commodity futures markets and he also is widely respected as a futurist in the broader sense. His views of what the world is likely to look like in the near- and long-term future have been sought by hundreds of people and organizations.

McIlvoy was instrumental in establishing a Master of Fine Arts degree program in creative writing at New Mexico State. He also leads creative writing workshops at the Munson Senior Center in Las Cruces, established similar writing programs across the state, and edits a literary magazine called Serape that showcases the writings of New Mexicans over 55. His latest novel, “Hyssop,” is set in southern New Mexico.

Peach, a faculty member in the Department of Economics for 21 years, is regularly sought by the media, government agencies and private organizations for his expertise on trends in population, voting and economics along the United States-Mexico border. He was a founder of the Journal of Borderland Studies.

Trevathan was identified by the Chronicle of Higher Education in 1997 as one of the top anthropologists working today. She received the Margaret Mead Award from the Society for Applied Anthropology and the American Anthropological Association in 1990 for her work on the evolution of human birth. In 1994 she was named New Mexico Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Wang’s contributions to the field of analytical chemistry have been prolific, especially in the development of sensors for monitoring blood glucose, detecting water pollutants and other important applications. During his two decades as a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, he has produced 530 papers in leading journals, authored six books and obtained six patents.

Kersting’s appointment as the university’s first PNM Professor of Utility Management was announced at last October’s Homecoming. The PNM Professorship was established with a $750,000 endowment from the Public Service Company of New Mexico.

University President Jay Gogue said the university hopes to have 20 chairs and professorships by the end of the year to recognize and reward outstanding faculty members. The ultimate goal is 75 to 100 — the average for universities similar in size and scope to New Mexico State, he said.

Nominations for Regents Professorships are evaluated by a committee under the direction of the provost. The provost makes recommendations to the president, who selects candidates to present to the Board of Regents for approval. To be eligible, a faculty member must have served at New Mexico State University for at least 10 years.

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