December 23, 2015 by Minerva Baumann, NMSU News Center
With more than two years at the helm of New Mexico State University, Chancellor Garrey Carruthers continued to lead the NMSU system in an era of transformation and discovery in 2015.
“This is the most exciting year since I’ve been at New Mexico State University, especially for our students,” Carruthers said. “Through a number of new initiatives, we believe we can better guide our students through their time at the university and deliver them to the workforce as well trained and well educated college graduates. We are betting on our students’ success and we are betting big.”
Each of NMSU’s 1,993 freshmen started the 2015 fall semester paired with a student success navigator. The new program provides graduate student mentors who give one-on-one support to freshmen throughout their first year in college as part of the university’s retention efforts.
This year, NMSU’s Board of Regents took a step to support students when they approved reducing the number of credits needed to earn a bachelor’s degree from 128 to 120. The move better aligns NMSU with other universities across the country.
“There’s a lot of information that students need to learn to be successful in college, and one semester maybe two semesters isn’t enough to learn all of that,” said Marissa Macias, cross-campus adviser and program director of the student success navigators. “The hope is we’ve given them all of the foundational skills they need to be really successful in college.”
The renovated Hardman and Jacobs Undergraduate Learning Center welcomed NMSU students in the fall semester. The building, which was funded through general obligation bonds, includes six classrooms of various sizes as well as the Student Success Center, which houses TRiO Student Support Services and TRiO Upward Bound, among other areas.
“It’s a better environment to learn,” said Tony Marin, director of student affairs. “The space we have here is innovative, and the technology has been enhanced tremendously. We have more space to work with students, and students have an additional on-campus option to print their papers and work on projects. It allows us to better serve our students both in and outside of the classroom.”
A number of other new and renovated facilities opened on campus during the year including an updated Corbett Center Student Union, a spiritual center and a skybox at Aggie Memorial Stadium.
Supporting a diverse student population, NMSU achieved a number of top rankings throughout the year.
Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education listed the university in the top 100 Colleges and Universities for Hispanics and for the seventh consecutive year, NMSU was recognized as a top military-friendly institution by G.I. Jobs and Military Spouse magazines.
“Over the last few years we have worked hard to live up to that title and improve our services and programs for our military and veteran students,” said Jacobo Varela, Military and Veterans Programs director at NMSU.
NMSU was also ranked in the top tier of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges while Forbes ranked NMSU among America’s Top Colleges. The university also was named among the 50 most underrated colleges in America by Business Insider, a business technology news website.
While NMSU’s goal is to help students while they are earning their degree, the Brookings Institute in 2015 ranked NMSU in the top 10 percent for value-added mid-career salaries of its alumni. The actual mid-career salary is listed as $85,200, which ranks first among NMSU’s peer institutions.
Another recognition this year comes from the Association of Public and Land Grant University’s Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness and Economic Prosperity. NMSU is among 18 universities designated as an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University by the APLU commission, which acknowledges universities working with public and private sector partners in their states and regions to support economic development through a variety of activities.
NMSU is considered a Research University-High Research Activity Institution by the Carnegie Foundation, and in 2015, the campus received a Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a result of its outreach efforts across the state.
“New Mexico State University is a caring community, and that community extends well beyond our campus,” Carruthers said. “We’re conducting research with significant real-world impact, providing training opportunities to everyone from working ranchers to newly elected government officials, and partnering with our public schools, the health care industry, our Native American population, entrepreneurs and many others.
“We’re listening to and working with New Mexicans in communities across the state,” he added.
An agreement with the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine will pave the way for NMSU students to attend the school, which is under construction on the NMSU campus and scheduled to open in fall 2016. The program not only will enhance the availability of medical degrees for students graduating from NMSU but also will increase the number of health care providers in New Mexico.
“The Osteopathic Medicine Pathway Program is an exciting opportunity for students interested in a medical career and should be attractive to many high school graduates from New Mexico and surrounding states,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Dan Howard. “I appreciate the strong support this program has received from the leadership of the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine and I look forward to working with them to ensure that the program helps to meet the health care needs of New Mexico.”
As a way to celebrate NMSU’s heritage and strengthen pride in the university, Carruthers spearheaded the university’s first Founder’s Day event in April. The day included a picnic for employees, spouses and retirees as well as a series of guest lectures and a historic carriage ride across campus with Carruthers portraying NMSU’s first president Hiram Hadley.
Aggie pride was reflected on the playing field in 2015 with eight Western Athletic Conference wins. Top WAC honors went to the men’s and women’s basketball teams, men’s and women’s tennis teams and men’s and women’s golf teams. Volleyball and softball also took WAC championships this year.
NMSU celebrated the close of the year by bringing in more than $4.5 million in new scholarship funds during its first-ever 24-hour marathon GivingTuesday fundraising event on Dec. 1. More than 2,300 donors contributed online or in-person gifts, including more than 500 who made their first gift to the university. In addition to making gifts supporting existing scholarships, donors established 82 new scholarships.
“I’m extremely proud, not only of the additional money to support deserving students throughout the NMSU system at this event, but even more so of the level of participation we’ve seen,” said Carruthers. “NMSU is truly a caring community, and the waves of donors coming in to show their support are further evidence of that.”
Look back at some of NMSU’s memorable images of 2015 at https://youtu.be/2OPuUxjAs1c.