NMSU selects four top faculty members as new Regents professors

January 20, 2016 by Darrell J. Pehr, NMSU News Center

Newly named NMSU Regents Professorship recipients David Boje, Martha Desmond, Thomas Dormody and Tom Smith stand for a photo following the 2016 spring convocation ceremony at Atkinson Recital Hall. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Newly named NMSU Regents Professorship recipients David Boje, Martha Desmond, Thomas Dormody and Tom Smith stand for a photo following the 2016 spring convocation ceremony at Atkinson Recital Hall. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

New Mexico State University’s annual spring convocation included the announcement of four new Regents Professorships among the NMSU faculty.

The Regents Professorship, established in 2001 by the NMSU Board of Regents, recognizes faculty who have made outstanding contributions to the university’s mission and honors contributions in areas of education, research, extension education and public service.

“The Regents Professorship honors those among the faculty who have built their careers at New Mexico State and in so doing have distinguished themselves nationally and internationally as scholars, teachers and agents of institutional and societal change,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Dan Howard.

Howard, himself, was selected as a Regents Professor in 2006.

The new Regents Professors are David M. Boje, Department of Management in the College of Business; Martha Desmond, Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences; Thomas J. Dormody, Department of Agricultural and Extension Education in the College of ACES; and Tom Smith, Department of Theatre Arts in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Since coming to NMSU in 1996, Boje has continued work in community development by doing small business consulting courses that put the students in learning relations with mentors in the community. His students have done things like the 2007, 2008 and 2009 “What’s Arts Convention” held at Alma d’Artes Charter School. More than 80 student teams have worked in the arts and in more traditional business doing socioeconomic consulting during Boje’s time teaching at NMSU.

For the past three years, Boje has championed “greening the curriculum” by initiating four new minors in sustainability across campus. He has done diversity outreach to military veterans, and has been volunteering at the Oak Street veteran’s shelter housing for two years.

Boje also partnered with the veterans to establish a fundraising “Veterans Theatre” project with performances four times per year around Las Cruces. A Vietnam veteran himself, Boje has reached out to homeless, sheltered and student veterans on and off campus.

Also in these last two years, Boje has been a principal investigator for an interdisciplinary research project focusing on improving post-deployment veterans’ family communication and reintegration.

Desmond secured a $3.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to train underrepresented minority students from NMSU and other universities in New Mexico and Puerto Rico in natural resources fields. Her training program has become a national model within USDA and has been extended for another four years, receiving an additional $2 million in funding.

In her teaching activities, Desmond has developed 10 new courses for her department and is known as a demanding and rigorous professor with a strong commitment to students as well as a strong adviser to students and mentor to junior faculty.

She is known as the top owl expert in the Southwestern U.S. and creatively integrates students’ experiential learning with her own research interests and expertise. Her research collaborations are of international scope and her field sites reach from South Dakota to Mexico, the entire range of burrowing owls. Her expertise on burrowing owls is in high demand.

Desmond served as interim department head from 2010-2012, where she successfully advocated for the department in areas such as better faculty contracts, recruitment of faculty and a renewed seminar series.

A longtime professor in the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education, Dormody served as director of the Division of Education and dean of the Graduate School at the Center of Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education (CATIE) in Turrialba, Costa Rica, as part of a two-year contract between NMSU and CATIE.

He served as department head for Agricultural and Extension Education from 1994-2008. Dormody received the USDA/NASULGC Western Region Award for Excellence in College and University Teaching in the Food and Agricultural Sciences, the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Teacher Fellow Award, the American Association for Agricultural Education Western Region Distinguished Teaching Award and the Burlington Resources Foundation Faculty Achievement Award for teaching from NMSU.

Working with Miley Gonzalez and Gary Cunningham, Dormody brought Agricultural Experiment Station appointments to the department for the first time. The appointments launched the department into a highly prolific period of research, scholarship and contributions to the knowledge base in the profession.

Dormody also led the department effort to develop a distance education master of arts degree in Agricultural and Extension Education, the first full distance education program offered in the college.

From 2008-2014, Smith was department head of Theatre Arts and managing director of the American Southwest Theatre Company. He has created new permanent course offerings for Theatre Arts’ curriculum and has dramatically redesigned existing courses to be both current and accessible to students. Smith has earned an international reputation as a teacher of improvisation.

While department head, the number of majors more than doubled from 42 to 94, he created an effective recruitment and retention plan and he spent countless hours leading the design process for the new $35 million Center for the Arts.

His work as a playwright has earned him top international recognition, as his plays have been produced across the U.S., Europe and elsewhere. Smith has 12 published plays and has received commissions and national awards as a playwright.

Smith has offered workshops to numerous local groups and served in the Rio Grande Theatre and American Southwest Theatre Company boards. He also has served on the Southern New Mexico Pride’s Board of Directors for five years, was the southern New Mexico liaison for International Pride and has supported campus and community LGBTQ groups.

The new Regents Professors join the ranks of 43 others who have received the designation since 2001. Regents Professors hold the title for as long as they continue to teach at New Mexico State University.

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