NMSU honorary committee chosen as part of presidential inauguration celebration

July 12, 2010 by Audry Olmsted NMSU News Center

New Mexico State University’s 25th President Barbara Couture. (NMSU Photo by Darren Phillips)

LAS CRUCES – New Mexico State University’s growth and development over the years can be attributed to the dedication and commitment of many people. A small fraction of those committed to the betterment of the university have been selected to serve on an honorary committee to help NMSU President Barbara Couture usher in “A New Era of Excellence through Partnership” at her inauguration ceremony.

The inauguration of Couture as the 25th president of NMSU will take place Aug. 17 at 9 a.m. in the Corbett Center Ballrooms and will be held in conjunction with convocation.

“The membership of the committee includes individuals who have been crucial and essential to the development and growth of NMSU,” said NMSU Board of Regents Chair Isaac Pino, who has been selected to serve on the committee. “Some have achieved legendary status in their endeavors on behalf of the university.”

Pino has a bachelor’s from NMSU in civil engineering and serves the City of Santa Fe as director of both the Department of Public Works and the Community Services Department.

Along with Pino, the others who serve on the Board of Regents have been chosen to serve on the honorary committee. Chris Anaya serves as the student regent and is pursuing a major in government. Anaya is currently a member of the New Mexico Student Loans Board and has served the Associated Students of New Mexico State University Senate from the College of Arts and Sciences. Anaya is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

Blake Curtis is a Clovis businessman and is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the American Seed Trade Association, Leadership New Mexico, and the Association of Commerce and Industry.

Javier Gonzales has 15 years experience as a leader in a broad range of projects in the public and private arena. He earned a bachelor’s in accounting from NMSU.

Laura Conniff is a qualifying broker and co-owner of Mathers Realty Inc. and co-owner of Leveldale Farms and Conniff F Cross Farm.

Several members of the committee have earned honorary degrees from NMSU. Alumna Carla Aragón received an honorary degree for her dedication to New Mexico as an outstanding community member and as a television journalist.

Adelmo “Del” Archuleta has a bachelor’s and a master’s from NMSU in civil engineering and served on the NMSU Board of Regents from 1996-2002, including two years as chair of the board. Archuleta received an honorary doctorate in May. He also chaired the last presidential search committee.

Lou Henson and his wife, Mary, received honorary doctorates in 2005. Henson is regarded as a top basketball coach. He earned his bachelor’s degree in secondary education and his master’s in educational administration from NMSU.

Michael Johnson has a bachelor’s in geological sciences from NMSU. He serves on the NMSU Foundation Board of Directors and the NMSU Dean’s Council of Excellence in Sciences. He was chosen as an NMSU Distinguished Alumnus in 1997 and received an honorary doctorate from NMSU in 2006. Michael and his wife, Judy, established the first endowed chair in the NMSU College of Arts and Sciences with a $1 million gift to the Department of Geological Sciences.

Paulina Salopek received an honorary doctorate in 2007. She is recognized for her contributions to New Mexico business and to agricultural research at NMSU. Salopek graduated from NMSU in 1955 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Rama and Ammu Devasthali, who are also on the honorary committee, have pledged $500,000 for first phase of the Center for the Arts.

The honorary committee includes Max Best, an attorney who has served as a member of the Business Advisory Council for the NMSU College of Business. He earned bachelor’s and master’s in agricultural economics from NMSU.

Sam Bone Jr. has served as acting director for NMSU Black Programs. He is the former supervisor electronic engineer for the Department of Defense at White Sands Missile Range and has received the NMSU Racial Harmony Award for his ongoing efforts to enhance diversity across communities.

Steve Chavira has been elected to serve as the alumni president for 2010-2011.

William B. Conroy served as interim president of NMSU from July 1994 to July 1995 and served as president from June 1997 to June 2000. He has also served as executive vice president.

Travis Dulany is president of ASNMSU.

Chris Erickson is a professor in the Department of Economics and International Business and is the immediate past chair of the NMSU Faculty Senate.

Thomas Esparza served as 2009-2010 president of the NMSU Alumni Association. An elementary physical education teacher with the Las Cruces Public Schools, Esparza earned his bachelor’s in health and physical education from NMSU in 1989.

Delano Lewis is a Senior Fellow at NMSU and the director of the International Relations Institute. He also served on the presidential search committee. He is interim dean of International Programs.

Mary Skeen is the wife of former U.S. Rep. Joe Skeen. She is New Mexico’s longest-serving delegate to the national Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching.

Jerry Smith is the president of the Laguna Development Corporation. Smith earned a bachelor’s of business administration degree in management from NMSU.

Gordon Steel is the nephew of Sam Steel, who would have been the first person to graduate from NMSU if he had not been killed in 1893.

Gerald Thomas served as president of NMSU from 1970 to 1984. After his retirement, Thomas held a variety of consultancies in the areas of food production and range conservation.

All members selected to serve on the honorary committee were chosen for their service and dedication to the university.

“I am humbled to join the people who have agreed to serve on the honorary committee for the inauguration of President Barbara Couture,” Pino said. “It is a privilege to be mentioned with people who have contributed immeasurably to the success of the institution. If we are indeed ‘judged by the company we keep,’ I can only get high marks for serving on this committee. Being a part of a group that will work toward ushering in a new era for the university is a distinction I am honored to accept.”

Faculty, staff, students and the public are invited to attend the free induction and convocation ceremonies when the new president will share her vision for the university’s future.

For more information on the inauguration, contact Jolie Tixier, director of Presidential Events, at 575-646-7737 or jolie@nmsu.edu.

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