April 10, 2015 by Darrell J. Pehr, NMSU News Center
An event this spring will celebrate the heritage of New Mexico State University April 10 with guest lectures, a historic carriage ride across campus, a portrayal of NMSU’s first president, Hiram Hadley, by current President Garrey Carruthers, and a picnic lunch on Traders Plaza for employees, spouses and retirees.
“The concept of Founders Day grew from an effort led by President Carruthers to celebrate our heritage and strengthen pride in our university,” said Ben Woods, president and CEO of Aggie Development and special adviser to the president, who is leading the planning group for the event. “We recognize that we owe a debt to those who preceded us. Our institution reflects the faces that passed through its doors, whether for a few short years or a lifetime.”
Woods noted that Hadley had the greatest influence on the establishment and beginnings of the university in 1889. As a recognized educational pioneer and lifelong reformer, Hadley brought exceptional knowledge and skills in public education to the New Mexico Territory when he arrived in Las Cruces in 1887.
Hadley will be portrayed by Carruthers, who will arrive at the picnic in a horse-drawn carriage along with his wife, Katherine, after surveying the campus. Acting as Hadley, Carruthers will offer remarks and present awards at the picnic, set for 11 a.m.-1 p.m., which is the “cornerstone” event of Founders Day. Lunch will be provided by the NMSU Employee Council.
The cornerstone theme of Founders Day refers to the cornerstone of the first building built on campus, McFie Hall, which was laid on Sept. 9, 1890. John R. McFie of Las Cruces was president of the inaugural Board of Regents, who served from 1889-1893. The board also included Secretary Treasurer William L. Rynerson of Las Cruces and members Numa Reymond of Las Cruces, Robert Black of Silver City and Jayno Whitmore of San Marcial.
The 1,000-pound cornerstone, hand-hewn from the Organ Mountains 125 years ago, still remains on the NMSU Horseshoe, in front of Hadley Hall.
The first Cornerstone Awards will be given as a way to celebrate faculty who have provided a strong foundation for their college’s success. The award will recognize faculty who are experimenting with teaching methods that will improve learning in the classroom; researching issues that hold promise for the future of citizens in New Mexico and beyond; and leading service projects that will improve lives.
Each college will select one faculty member to receive the Cornerstone Award.
Also to be presented will be the NMSU Employee Council’s “A” Mountain Staff Award, which will recognize an exemplary NMSU staff member who represents qualities of integrity, dedication, skill, endurance, resilience, determination and passion in performance of his or her duties. The recipient will be presented with a commemorative NMSU plaque.
A third recognition during the event will be the announcement of the newest addition to the Aggie Legends recognition series.
Phillip J. Leyendecker, the namesake of the NMSU Leyendecker Plant Science Center, will be the 12th honoree to be included in NMSU’s Aggie Legends recognition series.
Aggie Legends is a tradition that pays tribute to deceased alumni who achieved great success in their lives and supported NMSU in multiple ways.
Leyendecker graduated from the College of Agriculture and Home Economics in 1938. He was an NMSU scientist who did extensive research in the late 1940s and early 1950s at NMSU agricultural science centers and cooperating private farms, studying a fungus, Verticillium wilt, and its effects on cotton. Some inventive cultivation practices came out of Leyendecker’s research, which was shared with New Mexico’s cotton growers. He went on to serve in leadership roles in the college, including dean and director of agriculture.
In 1962, the college began an annual award, the Leyendecker Agriculturalist of Distinction, in his honor. It recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to agriculture in New Mexico. In 1963, he was recognized as a distinguished alumnus of the university.
An exhibit is underway that is the first activity for the Founders Day event. Entitled “New Mexico and World War I: Documents, Photographs and Artifacts” from the de Bremond Collection (Rio Grande Historical Collections) and the Ralph Willis Goddard Papers from the records of the College of Engineering (Hobson-Huntsinger University Archives), it is on display in the Milton Gallery on the fourth floor of the Branson Library through Oct. 1, 2015.
A series of lectures also will take place during the week leading up to the lunch that will be presented by the NMSU Library. Each lecture will be from 2-3 p.m. in the Milton Gallery.
On Monday, April 6, State Historian Rick Hendricks will present “Politics and Higher Education in Post-Statehood New Mexico.”
On Tuesday, April 7, Kelly Allred, retired NMSU professor of Range Sciences, will present “Early New Mexico Biologists Elmer O. Wooton and Paul Standley.”
On Wednesday, April 8, NMSU University Archivist Martha Shipman Andrews will speak on “Brains, Integrity and Ambition: Recruiting Faculty to New Mexico’s Land-grant College.”
On Thursday, April 9, Walter G. Hines, NMSU alumnus from the Class of 1966, will present “Early Athletics Programs at New Mexico State College.”