December 14, 2012 by Julie M. Hughes, NMSU News Center
The New Mexico State University Board of Regents presented alumna and former regent Laura Mathers Conniff with the Regent’s Medal Dec. 14.
According to NMSU policy, “The Regent’s Medal shall be awarded on suitable occasions and with appropriate ceremonies to persons who have made outstanding contributions to the university, to the State of New Mexico, or to the United States.” Since the inception of this medal 40 years ago there have only been eight individuals bestowed this honor.
Conniff joins the ranks of former presidents Hugh Milton II and Roger Corbett; former academic vice president William O’Donnell; Las Cruces realtor and former regent Seaborn Collins; astronomy professor Clyde Tombaugh; biology professor Maude Tully Guthrie; former presidential spouse Jean Thomas; and former NMSU student athlete, professional football player and professor Charles Johnson.
In presenting the medal, Regent’s Chair Mike Cheney said, “Laura epitomizes the very best that New Mexico State has to offer – success in the classroom, success in business, success in life. Her service to New Mexico State University and the citizens of our state has been distinguished by remarkable vision and a constant commitment to the highest standards of ethics and excellence in all that she undertakes.”
Conniff was born in Illinois to L.E. “Gene” and Mary Mathers, moving to Las Cruces in 1965. A 1974 graduate of NMSU, she earned a bachelor’s in business administration with honors in just three years. After a brief career in banking, Conniff joined the family-owned Mathers Real Estate. She also is active in agriculture in New Mexico and Illinois as co-owner of Leveldale farms and Cross X farms.
Conniff served with distinction as a member of the NMSU Board of Regents for more than 10 years, including three terms as chair of the board, two terms as vice chair and three terms as secretary/treasurer.
Her honors include the College of Business Outstanding Centennial Alumni in 1988, the NMSU Alumni Association James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service in 1995, the NMSU Foundation’s Branding Iron Award in 1997, the College of Business Distinguished Alumna in 1999, and induction into the College of Business Hall of Fame in 2004.
She has served as president of the NMSU Foundation Board and currently is co-chair of the Aggies Are Tough Enough to Wear Pink Breast Cancer Awareness effort. Conniff was diagnosed with cancer in January 1997. She already had a role model in whose steps she would follow as her mother had been diagnosed with cancer several years before. Both survived their illness and their survival brings hope to all those who may face this same disease at some point in their own lives, Cheney said.
Laura’s husband, John, is a pediatric dentist. She has two children and two grandchildren.