New NMSU professorships, chairs celebrated

Jan. 11, 2005 by Julie M. Hughes NMSU News Center

New Mexico State University professorship and chair recipients celebrated at the Spring Convocation Jan. 11 were, left to right, Bernie McNamara, Kenneth White, Thomas Schmugge, Betsy Cahill, Nirmala Khandan, Glenn Kuehn, Mary Teresa Brandon, Barry Smith, Herman Garcia and Larry Mays. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

New Mexico State University professorship and chair recipients celebrated at the Spring Convocation Jan. 11 were, left to right, Bernie McNamara, Kenneth White, Thomas Schmugge, Betsy Cahill, Nirmala Khandan, Glenn Kuehn, Mary Teresa Brandon, Barry Smith, Herman Garcia and Larry Mays. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Ten new professorships and chairs were celebrated at New Mexico State University’s Spring Convocation Tuesday, Jan. 11.

The Regents Professorship, established in 2001 by the New Mexico State University Board of Regents, recognizes faculty who have made outstanding contributions to the university’s mission and to honor contributions in the areas of education, research, extension education and public service. This year’s Regents Professors join 20 current holders of the professorship.

The 2005 Regents Professors are Herman S. Garcia, curriculum and instruction; Glenn D. Kuehn, chemistry and biochemistry; G. Larry Mays, criminal justice; Bernard McNamara, astronomy; and Kenneth R. White, civil engineering. Mary Teresa Brandon, Doña Ana Branch Community College, was named a Regents Professorship Master Teacher.

Garcia has worked to promote diversity on local, national and international levels. He served as department head of curriculum and instruction from 1997 to 2003 and has served on committees such as the National Association for Bilingual Education and the American Educational Research Association. He also serves as adviser to the Hispanic Educators Association and the social service Latino student fraternity Omega Delta Phi.

Kuehn is nationally recognized in the area of polyamine metabolism. He has helped many faculty members secure funding for various research projects including funding from the Centers for Disease Control for supplemental education and the Sloan grant for underrepresented groups in molecular biology.

Mays is a national expert on jails and prisons. His work in juvenile justice is widely acclaimed by juvenile justice academics and professionals in the field. He has authored several books on courts and the justice system, the U.S. prison system, jails and detention centers, and his involvement in the development of proposals has resulted in more than $200,000 in funded research.

McNamara has been involved with countless research activities that go beyond the boundaries of Earth, including research using two of NASA’s “great observatories,” the Hubble Space Telescope and the Compton Gamma Ray Astronomy Satellite. He also was the co-principal investigator on the National Science Foundation (NSF) proposal establishing New Mexico as a participant in the NSF Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research.

White is an international expert in bridge design. He has served as head of the civil and geological engineering department and as interim dean of the College of Engineering. As director of the Bridge Inspection Program at NMSU, White and his team of NMSU instructors offer bridge inspection courses throughout the United States and abroad. Together, they have had an impact on about 5,000 engineers in the past 24 years.

Brandon became the first coordinator of the Health Occupations Program at DABCC in 1997, and now serves as director. Under her resourceful leadership, enrollment in the program has more than doubled in six years. She also is credited with developing the associate in applied science degree in public health, which fully articulates with NMSU’s bachelor’s in community health and bachelor’s of human and community services.

The Gerald W. Thomas Chair in Food Production and Natural Resources was established in honor of President Emeritus Thomas. When Thomas retired in 1984, the College of Agriculture and Home Economics endowed the $1 million chair – the first in university history.

Thomas Schmugge will begin work in March as the new Gerald Thomas Chair. Trained as a physicist, Schmugge spent 15 years with NASA and 17 years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Hydrology Lab, from which he recently retired. His expertise includes using satellite data, such as microwave and thermal infrared images, to estimate snowmelt, measure soil moisture and to determine water losses from evaporation and transpiration in plants.

The Mountain States Insurance Group Endowed Chair for the Study of Insurance and Financial Services was established in 2003 by Albuquerque-based Mountain States Insurance Group. It will help the College of Business Administration and Economics to provide an insurance and financial services program, an insurance center and an insurance scholarship endowment.

Barry Smith, who holds the chair, has been a faculty member in the finance department since 1986 and served as department head for eight years. He has lectured on various insurance topics in 32 states, and has authored three books and numerous articles on insurance and risk management.

The J. Paul Taylor Professorship has been established in honor of J. Paul Taylor, a retired state representative who received three degrees from NMSU. Taylor has been a lifelong advocate for K-12 education, most notably early childhood and bilingual education.

Betsy Cahill, curriculum and instruction, is the first recipient of the J. Paul Taylor Professorship. She has published many articles on issues related to young children and has secured grants that have allowed for the development of new programs, including an Early Childhood Professional Development Initiative Project to research, design and develop educational standards for a variety of specializations, endorsements and certifications. Cahill co-authored Gov. Bill Richardson’s Early Learning Plan, which was announced at New Mexico State last October.

The John Clark Endowed Professorship is named for John W. Clark, professor of civil engineering from 1953 to 1978. Recognized for his expertise in water and water treatment, he directed the NSF Summer Conference on water resources and served as director of the Water Resources Research Institute from 1971 to 1976.

Nirmala Khandan, civil engineering, is the first holder of the John Clark Endowed Professorship. He has published more than 50 journal papers and a book, “Modeling Tools for Environmental Engineers and Scientists.” Three of his papers are among the top 1 percent of all papers published in engineering worldwide in terms of peer citation. With funding from the National Science Foundation, he researches educational materials development.

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