Published on Aug 9, 2013
For 20 years, Pat Gavin has been connecting with New Mexico State University marketing students and growing the PGA Golf Management program from about 40 participants to 300 with a waiting list. While that might be enough of a legacy for many, Gavin feels he has more to give NMSU, so he took on another role in July — as department head for marketing in the College of Business.
August 9, 2013 by Amanda Bradford NMSU@WORK
For 20 years, Pat Gavin has been connecting with New Mexico State University marketing students and growing the PGA Golf Management program from about 40 participants to 300 with a waiting list. While that might be enough of a legacy for many, Gavin feels he has more to give NMSU, so he took on another role in July – as department head for marketing in the College of Business.
Gavin, who grew up in Las Cruces and earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at NMSU, was living in Phoenix in July 1993 when the opportunity to return to his alma mater presented itself. He said that proved to be a month full of changes.
“I accepted the job at NMSU, got married and bought a new house, all in July,” he said, shaking his head. “That month was a big life changer.”
He joined the faculty as assistant director of the golf management program, taking over the reins as director in 1994. The program, brought to NMSU by coaching legend Herb Wimberly, has seen steady growth under Gavin’s stewardship – during which time Gavin also became a college full professor.
He’ll retain his role as director of the PGA Golf Management program, in addition to his new duties as department head. Gavin said he’s learned a lot already in his first weeks in the new leadership role, with help from colleagues he respects. For Gavin, the most important part of his work is the relationships he builds with the students he guides.
“That’s my strong point and it always has been – dealing with students,” he said. “I enjoy coming to work. I love my job.”
Elise “Pookie” Sautter, a former marketing department head who returned to NMSU this fall after a sabbatical, credited the program’s success to Gavin’s student-centered approach.
“For years, I have been amazed at his ability to advise personally over one hundred PGA Golf Management majors,” Sautter said. “He knows them all by name and is interested in their progress.
“Our graduates stay in contact with Pat for many years after graduating,” she added. “He has a very positive influence on their lives.”
Jerry Hampton, a marketing professor and another previous department head, agreed.
“And to think I hired this guy!” Hampton said. “What did he do? Just turned the NMSU Golf Management program into the best one in the country, if not the world.”
The PGA has recognized Gavin’s contributions to golf management education with the Horton Smith Award for the Sun Country Section – New Mexico and West Texas – a dozen times during his tenure, and he’s a finalist this year for the award at the national level. Gavin serves as secretary on the Sun Country Section’s board of directors and is also the education chairman for the region. He’s been a PGA member since 1997.
College of Business Interim Dean Kathy Brook said Gavin has kept the NMSU program – one of the nation’s first – in the spotlight, even as the number of schools offering the curriculum has grown from three to 20.
“Pat is highly respected within the college and his department for his dedication to the golf program and his success in maintaining its national prominence even as the number of competitors has grown,” Brook said. “He represents NMSU well as a faculty member and as an alumnus.”
Gavin said he’s enjoyed teaching and working in the community where he grew up.
“I love Las Cruces – it’s been crazy to see it grow,” he said. “It’s so laid back and relaxing, and it’s a great golfing community.”
Many of the golf management programs’ students are employed by area golf courses, and Gavin is proud of the program’s record – 100 percent job placement in the golf industry after graduation.
Gavin and his wife, Tamara, recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary. The couple has three children – Courtney, 18, who starts in the pre-pharmacy program at NMSU this month; Gage, 16; and Patrick, 14.