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PANORAMA New Mexico State University Alumni & Friends Magazine

Volume 69 Fall 2017 • FREE

FARMING in FOCUS Young alum sees his successful ag operation through a different lens

+ALSO INSIDE: Research project boosts graduate work in computer science

Letter from

the President


here are so many wonderful things happening right now at our great university, it can be hard to keep track of it all. This impressive string of accomplishments is a testament to the quality of the NMSU system and would not be possible without the contributions of everyone, including our employees, alumni and friends of the university. Here are just a few of things our team has put together: § Freshmen enrollment for this fall semester is up more than

11% – the largest increase in 17 years;

§ The Aggie Pathway program has grown from 286 students in

2016 to 753 this year, and branch transfers are up almost 18%;

§ NMSU’s four-year graduation rates have gone from 13% to 22%

§ § § § §

in the past four years. Additionally, our five-year graduation rate is 40%, the highest since 2000, and the six-year rate is now 46%, the highest since 2001; Our fall-to-spring retention rate is the highest in a decade; This past year, NMSU Foundation raised $2 million more in cash and pledges than at any time in our history; We are saving nearly $10 million a year because of our Transforming NMSU into a 21st Century University initiative; We have broken ground on our university hotel project near the NMSU Heritage Farm; NMSU is No. 1 in the nation for science and engineering fund-

This issue of Panorama is produced by the office of Marketing and Communications, New Mexico State University, 575-646-3221. Correspondences may be sent to Marketing and Communications, MSC 3K, New Mexico State University, P.O. Box 30001, Las Cruces, NM 88003-3590 or Panorama is published three times annually. ISSN 2470-0649 New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer and educator. The magazine can be found at Editor Amanda Bradford ’03 Assistant Editor Tiffany Acosta Art Director Gerald Rel Contributors Minerva Baumann ’13, Adriana M. Chávez, Kristie Garcia ’07, Billy Huntsman ’16, Andrés Leighton, Gary Mook, Jane Moorman, Darrell J. Pehr, Alyssa Peters, Darren Phillips, John Vu, Julia Wopata

ing for minority-serving institutions;

§ The Brookings Institution ranks

NMSU No. 2 in the nation for being a leader in research and social mobility that improves lives; § For the past decade, Forbes has ranked NMSU as one of America’s Top Colleges; § NMSU has earned a Carnegie Community Engagement Classification in recognition of our important outreach efforts; and § Now, for the past five years, NMSU has been recognized as a Top Tier university by U.S. News & World Report. Thank you, everyone, for your outstanding contributions.

Garrey Carruthers ’64 ’65 NMSU President and Chancellor of the NMSU System

President and Chancellor Garrey Carruthers ’64 ’65

President, NMSU Foundation Andrea Tawney

Chief Operating Officer, NMSU Foundation Tina Byford ’00 ’11

Associate Vice President for Alumni Engagement and Stewardship Leslie Cervantes ’86

Associate Vice President for Marketing and Communications Justin Bannister ’03 ’13

Director, Alumni Relations Mallory Driggers ’16

NMSU ALUMNI ASSOCIATION INTERNATIONAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS President Tony Martinez ’96 ’98 President-Elect Scott Sponsellet ’96 ’98 Secretary/Treasurer Kay Brilliant ’71 Past President Crystal Lay ’02 ’10 Executive Council Kim Archuleta ’95 ’02, Steve Duran ’90, Connie Lee ’69 ’73, Carol Smallwood ’83, Daniel Sonntag ’14, Andrea Sparkevicius ’91 ’99, Adam Thompson ’08 Copyright 2017 New Mexico State University POSTMASTER: Send address change notifications to Panorama, MSC 3590, New Mexico State University, P.O. Box 30001, Las Cruces, NM, 88003-88001

Contents Fall 2017


Just a click

Local farmer captures the Mesilla Valley in stunning images


A pathway to graduate work

NSF funds NMSU computer-science research program for undergrads


Celebrating a Mesilla Valley heritage


Raise a glass

Successful Aggie-owned brewing company launches Pistol Pete’s 1888 Ale


Library endowment will support local historic collections in honor of family’s enduring legacy

Google makes an impact at NMSU

Computer science majors search for new experiences during Google internships


Also Inside

2 Alumni Connections..............28 Pete’s Corner...........................34 Press Check.............................35 Aggie Pride..............................36 Around Aggieland..................

From the heart Medoff’s play, “Children of a Lesser God,” returns to Broadway this spring


Fall 2017 | New Mexico State University | Panorama



Aggie bragging rights A national leader in equal access to higher education National top tier university ranking

New Mexico State University has been recognized as a top tier university for the past five years according to the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges for 2018 National Universities rankings. NMSU improved more than 20 spots and is tied for 198. The U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings are based on seven factors: assessment of excellence, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, graduation rate performance and alumni giving.

2 Panorama | New Mexico State University | Fall 2017

In a report from the Brookings Institution, NMSU was listed as a leader in equal access to higher education. The report gave NMSU the second-highest score in the nation as a public university that provides opportunities for social mobility to students and produces valuable research. In the Brookings report, “Ladders, labs, or laggards? Which public universities contribute most,” by Dimitrios Halikias and Richard V. Reeves, the pair evaluated 342 of the nation’s selective public four-year universities “using newly-available tax data from the Equality of Opportunity Project at Stanford to gauge mobility and an independent ranking from the Carnegie Foundation to assess research activity – to determine which universities are ladders or labs, and which universities are laggards less deserving of public funding.” Private universities, historically black colleges and universities, public liberal arts colleges and military-oriented institutions were not considered. NMSU ranks second as a leader for acting as both a ladder for social mobility and laboratory for research. Of the universities considered, NMSU, as a leader, is among only 20 percent of the universities accomplished in both categories. NMSU is considered a ladder for promoting social mobility by helping low-income students achieve higher levels on the income ladder following graduation. Nearly 18 percent of NMSU students come from the bottom 20 percent income bracket.

Ranked No. 1 in nation in science, engineering funding for minority-serving institutions

NMSU ranks first in the country for federal obligations for science and engineering activities for minority-serving institutions, according to a report from the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. A high-Hispanic enrollment institution, NMSU led the nation in receiving $48.8 million in federal science and engineering obligations during the 2015 fiscal year. The majority of the funds, 84 percent, were in the research and development category, and 62 percent of the science and engineering total came from the Department of Defense ($11.6 million), NSF ($9.6 million) and NASA ($9 million).

The chief executive officer of Starbucks, Johnson has been on quite the journey since graduating from NMSU with his Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration with a major in business systems. “It was at NMSU where I discovered a passion for technology and business, which became my career,” Johnson says. His passion for software led him into a career that included IBM, Microsoft and serving as chief executive office of Juniper Networks. Johnson served on the National Security Telecommunication Advisory Committee under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. After a successful career in technology, Johnson joined Starbucks in 2009 as a member of its board of directors. In March 2015, he became president and chief operating officer and assumed the role of CEO in April of this year. Through the years, Johnson and his wife, June – also an NMSU graduate – have generously supported NMSU’s Arrowhead Center and the College of Business. “My experience at NMSU taught me the importance of helping others, which June and I have carried forward throughout our lives,” Johnson says. He visited NMSU’s Arrowhead Center in May, where he spoke to students and faculty about the importance of leadership, human connection, storytelling and life-long learning. Kristie Garcia ’07



hen Kevin Johnson ’81 arrived at NMSU in May to receive an honorary doctorate at commencement, he had a much different perspective than when he walked onto campus for the first time as a freshman in 1978.


Starbucks CEO shares lessons with students, faculty

TOP: Starbucks CEO and New Mexico State University alumnus Kevin Johnson returned to NMSU to receive an honorary doctoral degree and visited with students, faculty and staff of Arrowhead Center and the NMSU College of Business in May. BOTTOM: Johnson greets NMSU alumna and Starbucks store manager Jessica Lyn Robles during his visit to Arrowhead Center, NMSU’s entrepreneurship and innovation hub.

Fall 2017 | New Mexico State University | Panorama



Laree Estes Perez awarded honorary doctorate


ormer NMSU regent Laree Estes Perez returned to campus in May to receive an honorary doctoral degree at commencement. “I want to express my gratitude and appreciation for the honor,” Perez says. “It’s certainly the greatest honor that I’ve ever received.”

Enrico Pontelli, a New Mexico State University Regents Professor with nearly two decades of service to the university, was named dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in May. Pontelli was an interim associate dean in the college for two years prior to being named interim dean in 2016. He served as head of the Department of Computer Science for five years and is also an alumnus, earning his Ph.D. in computer science from NMSU in 1997. “I am a proud Aggie,” Pontelli says. “This institution has given a lot to me, and the reason I want to do this is to give back to NMSU. The college is strong and has incred4 Panorama | New Mexico State University | Fall 2017

ible faculty and staff. I have started a number of initiatives that I want to continue.” Community outreach is important to Pontelli. He is the founder of the university’s Young Women in Computing program, which has reached more than 14,000 students and raised the visibility of NMSU in the computer science education community. Pontelli’s research interests are in the general area of artificial intelligence, high performance computing, assistive technologies and bioinformatics. He has published more than 250 peer-reviewed papers in international venues and secured more than $14 million in funding for his research. Minerva Baumann ’13


Pontelli named College of Arts and Sciences dean


Beginning in 1991, Perez served on the NMSU Board of Regents for six years and was board president from 1994 to 1996. Perez received a Bachelor of Business Administration in finance and economics from Baylor University. She also served on the Baylor University Board of Regents for nine years. In 1996, Perez sold her Medallion Investment Management Company to Loomis, Sayles & Company, one of the largest companies in the country. She joined the investment advisory company DeRoy and Devereaux, where she’s been vice president since 2002 and has helped that business grow to over $1.1 billion in assets. Coming from a ranching family, and with a heart for New Mexico agriculture, Perez named the NMSU College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences – including the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management – in her estate for the purpose of establishing scholarships. Kristie Garcia ’07

Faculty honors, Presidential Medallion presented at fall convocation


leven faculty members were recognized for their excellence in teaching and research and their service to the university during the 2017 fall convocation ceremony.


Kenny Stevens, Department of Engineering Technology and Surveying Engineering, received the Westhafer Award for Excellence in Teaching. The Westhafer is presented in memory of Robert L. Westhafer, professor in the Department of Mathematics from 1946 to 1957. It is given in alternating years for excellence in teaching and for excellence in research and creative activity. Andreas Gross, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and Zachary Toups, Department of Computer Science, received the Patricia Christmore Faculty Teaching Award. Named for Patricia Christmore, former accounting department head, this annual award recognizes and rewards superb junior tenure-track faculty members for excellence in teaching. The University Research Council presents its Award for Excellence to faculty and staff in recognition of exceptional research and/or other creative scholarly efforts at NMSU. The recipients are Salim Bawazir, Nirmala Khandan and Pei Xu of the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center; Catherine E. Brewer, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering; Kenneth C. Carroll, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences; and Tim Wright, Department of Biology. Emma Orta, College of Health and Social Services, and Esther Steiner, College of Arts and Sciences, received the Excellence in Academic Advising Award. This award recognizes faculty and professional academic advisers for their outstanding achievements and service to NMSU students. The candidates are nominated by students. In addition, Chancellor Garrey Carruthers presented the Presidential Medallion to Don Kidd, Western Community Bank chairman and chief executive officer, and his wife, Sarrah, in recognition of their genorosity. Jane Moorman

New Mexico State University Chancellor Garrey Carruthers, fifth from right, Provost Dan Howard, second from left, Presidential Medallion recipient Don Kidd and his wife, Sarrah, both at center, join faculty members for a group photo following the 2017 Fall Convocation ceremony at the Atkinson Recital Hall. Awardees include, left to right, Kenneth Carroll, Catherine Brewer, Zachary Toups, Tim Wright, Andreas Gross, Esther Steiner, Salim Bawazir, Emma Orta and Pei Xu.

Fall 2017 | New Mexico State University | Panorama




NMSU’s College of Arts and Sciences began in 1917. Originally named the School of General Sciences, it was led by Dean John H. Vaughn. Today, the college is the largest in terms of the number of students at NMSU and includes departments in fine arts, humanities, science and social science.

50 years

NMSU first utilized a “computerized” class registration process in 1967. Campus computer center facilities were

used to tabulate student requests for classes. Once all requests were tabulated, the students were then matched with the classes available.

30 years

NMSU’s Business Complex was dedicated during a public ceremony in 1987. The building, which now houses the College of Business, was designed to reflect the older campus buildings it faced, including Guthrie Hall and Kent Hall.

100 years

Ralph W. Goddard first came to NMSU as a professor in 1917. Four years later, he helped construct a 140-foot tower atop the engineering building for a radio station, eventually designated as KOB. In 1929, Goddard died after being electrocuted as he prepared the station for an evening broadcast. Two of the university’s broadcast stations, KRWG-FM and KRWG-TV bear Goddard’s initials.

15 years

NMSU named its first Regents Professors in 2002. Six senior faculty members were selected in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the university’s mission. The original Regents Professors included linguist and author Ricardo Aguilar-Melantzon, futurist Lowell B. Catlett, novelist and creative writing teacher Kevin C. McIlvoy, economist James T. Peach, anthropologist Wenda R. Trevathan and chemist Joseph Wang.

Each Regents Professor receives a chair that symbolizes their contributions to NMSU.

6 Panorama | New Mexico State University | Fall 2017

Million-dollar gift

supports Arrowhead Center’s regional growth in economic development


s part of the Ignite Aggie Discovery fundraising campaign, the New Mexico State University Foundation received a gift of $1 million from Paul and Alejandra de la Vega Foster to support Arrowhead Center, the university’s regional entrepreneurship and innovation hub. Juárez soccer team and CEO of Almacenes Distribudores de la Frontera. She also serves on several boards and commissions in Texas, El Paso, Juárez and Chihuahua. In 2016, she was appointed to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s Commission for Women as the vice-chair. Amanda Bradford ’03 COURTESY PHOTO

Arrowhead Center Director Kathryn Hansen says the transformative gift from the Fosters will be used to drive collaboration between Arrowhead and its many partners in the Borderplex region. “This funding will allow us to continue to build and strengthen our framework for economic development in the region,” Hansen says. “Our goal is to create an environment where those connections can spark greater innovation. This gift really emphasizes how important it is that we work together to build the critical elements of abundant capital, collaboration with industry, student entrepreneurship, risktaking culture, government support and community involvement.” “We are pleased to support initiatives that build and promote our Borderplex region,” Paul Foster says. “Alejandra and I believe the work that Arrowhead Center is doing is tremendous, and we are glad to see the development of regional partnerships, especially in Mexico. Those relationships are critically important to the future of this region.” Paul Foster is the president of Franklin Mountain Management, LLC. He is the founder and former executive chairman of Western Refining, Inc., and currently is a director of Andeavor, a U.S. refining, marketing and logistics company. Foster is chairman of the University of Texas System Board of Regents and serves on numerous boards, including the El Paso Branch of the Dallas Federal Reserve and the Borderplex Regional Economic Alliance. He is also a founding member of MountainStar Sports Group, owners of the El Paso Chihuahuas and the Ciudad Juarez Bravos. Alejandra de la Vega Foster is the Secretary of Innovation and Economic Development for the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, and co-owner of MountainStar Sports Group. She is former president of the FC

Carlos Murguia, a graduate assistant who has participated in several Arrowhead Center programs with his company, KoolArmor, promotes Arrowhead Center’s trademarked Activando Emprendedores entrepreneurship training program at Semana Nacional del Emprendedor, Mexico’s national entrepreneurship week. A gift announced in September from Paul and Alejandra de la Vega Foster will help support Arrowhead Center’s work building partnerships with universities, municipalities and organizations in Mexico and throughout the Borderplex region.

Fall 2017 | New Mexico State University | Panorama



Librarian, phys ed instructor leaves a legacy to benefit NMSU students



ary Helen Lomax, a beloved physical education instructor at New Mexico A&M, now New Mexico State University, made a lasting contribution to the university that will benefit NMSU students for years to come.



When she passed away in 2016, Lomax left behind a substantial gift to NMSU that will be used to fund scholarship endowments and provide matching funds to help drive giving. She also bequeathed her collection of Native American artifacts to the university. Lomax was born in Big Spring, Texas, on May 2, 1928. In 1949, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas Woman’s University in Denton, and later obtained a master’s degree in physical education from the same university. She embarked on a 19-year teaching career that started at a private girl’s school in El Paso. After earning her master’s degree, she taught physical education at New Mexico A&M, San Angelo State University and junior high schools in Albuquerque and Odessa, Texas. While at New Mexico A&M, Lomax, who was nicknamed “Teach” by her students, served as a faculty sponsor of the Rodeo Club and the Four Square Club and adviser to the women’s intramural club. Lomax then discovered library science while attending Northern Arizona University one summer, and later transferred to the University of Oklahoma, where she earned a master’s degree in library science in 1969. She then became a reference librarian at Sul Ross State University, a position she held for 22 years until she retired in 1991. Lomax lived in Alpine, Texas, until her death. Donations in memory of Lomax may be made to the New Mexico State University Foundation. Adriana M. Chávez

After her death in 2016, Mary Helen Lomax left a gift to NMSU to fund scholarships, but she also gave her collection of Native American artifacts to the university. Some of the artifacts are on display in the NMSU American Indian Center.

Mary Helen Lomax, pictured with Vaughn Corley (left) and C. S. Moll, were physical education instructors in the early 1950s. She also was an adviser to the women’s intramural club and faculty sponsor of the Rodeo Club and the Four Square Club.

8 Panorama | New Mexico State University | Fall 2017

A helping hand

New scholarship helps NMSU Carlsbad students bridge an educational gap COURTESY PHOTO



Bill and Jo-Ann Vandergriff established the VIP Self Storage Endowed Scholarship at NMSU Carlsbad for residents of Eddy County.

The VIP Self Storage Endowed Scholarship at NMSU Carlsbad will fund at least four scholarships annually, with at least one award going to a nursing student.

newly endowed scholarship will help non-traditional students at New Mexico State University Carlsbad attain their academic goals.

The VIP Self Storage Endowed Scholarship at NMSU Carlsbad was set up by Bill and Jo-Ann Vandergriff with an initial gift of $26,250. The scholarship will be matched by a generous donor fund at the NMSU Foundation with an additional $25,000. “We believe everyone should follow a dream and develop a skill such that they can be self-sufficient,” say the Vandergriffs. “An endowed scholarship is one way to achieve that goal in perpetuity. An endowed scholarship for students seeking technical skills, including nursing, will help ensure a steady supply of well-trained individuals who are much needed currently and in the near future.” “The generosity of Bill and Jo-Ann Vandergriff will provide a great opportunity for NMSU Carlsbad to provide financial assistance to students with a gap in their educational sequence between high school and college,” says John Gratton, president of NMSU Carlsbad. “NMSU Carlsbad has embarked on a series of initiatives to assist our non-traditional students and these scholarships will be a key part of our strategies. NMSU Carlsbad is extremely grateful for this gift and for the benefits that will be provided for four non-traditional students, and we cannot thank Bill and Jo-Ann Vandergriff enough for their generosity and support of NMSU Carlsbad.” The gift will be invested and the income will enable at least four scholarships to be awarded annually in perpetuity. Awards will be made to full-time students at NMSU Carlsbad who are residents of Eddy County and have a minimum grade-point average of 2.9 at the Carlsbad campus. Preference will be given to students who did not immediately enter college after high school, and so are not eligible for the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship. At least one scholarship will be awarded to a student studying nursing and at least one other scholarship will go to a student in the Manufacturing Sector Development Program, whether vocational, degree or certificate program. The first recipients of the scholarship are Veronica Salazar, associate in business office technology; Dorina Gomez, associate in general studies; Joshua DeLosSantos, associate in science; and Joel Carlton, associate in industrial maintenance. Darrell J. Pehr

Fall 2017 | New Mexico State University | Panorama



RAISE a glass Successful Aggie-owned brewing company launches Pistol Pete’s 1888 Ale


By Adriana M. Chávez

he New Mexico State University Aggies kicked off fall with the help of a celebratory drink developed by three former Aggies with a passion for entrepreneurship and beer. Kevin Jameson and cousins Gabe Jensen and Jotham Michnoviz are the three founding owners of Bosque Brewing Co., which is based in Albuquerque but operates a taproom in Las Cruces, just across the street from NMSU. Michnoviz attended NMSU, while Jensen and Jameson both graduated from NMSU with bachelor’s degrees from the College of Business. Jensen and Jameson met at NMSU through Jensen’s thengirlfriend – now his wife – who suggested the two meet. “I was floundering through college at the time and my girlfriend said her friend was in business computer systems and seemed to really enjoy it and already had a job in the field,” Jensen says. “She introduced us and I thought, ‘what the heck?’ We had many classes together, my grades went up quite a bit because I was doing something I actually enjoyed, and we became great friends.” Both Jensen and Jameson attribute some of their business savvy to their education at NMSU. “Once I became a business major, my eyes were opened to an 10 Panorama | New Mexico State University | Fall 2017

entirely new world,” Jensen says. “I fell in love with both the business side of things and the computer programming side. I think, although nothing you can do in school can prepare you all the way for the ups and downs of business, my studies at NMSU really gave me great tools to navigate the business world.” As Michnoviz describes it, the idea for creating a brewery came up during a party Jensen attended. Jensen voiced his wish to open a brewery, and another party-goer asked, “What’s stopping you?” “We all at the same time had the same idea,” Michnoviz says. “We started figuring out the process and figuring out what we needed to do. It took us two and a half years to make it happen.” Jameson says although his background includes economics, accounting, business computer systems, business law, marketing and management, he developed an appreciation for the quality and flavor of craft beer after realizing that many big-name brands seemed lackluster. “I became interested in trying new craft beers and in the science of the brewing process itself,” Jameson says. “This became a passion that I soon wanted to turn into a business venture. Before ever having brewed a single batch, I found out that my two friends and fellow Aggies, Gabe and Jotham, had this same passion and


Jotham Michnovicz, Bosque Brewing Co. co-founder and director of operations, pours a glass of the new Pistol Pete’s 1888 Ale at its Las Cruces taproom. The ale will be available at all NMSU football and men’s basketball home games, while cans will be available statewide in early 2018.

desire to be craft beer entrepreneurs, so we set out on the journey together.” In October 2012, Bosque Brewing Co. opened its doors in Albuquerque. About two years later, the Las Cruces taproom made its debut. Bosque Brewing Co.’s growing popularity has led to separate collaborations with Samuel Adams beer and NMSU. The NMSU collaboration spawned Pistol Pete’s 1888 Ale, which quickly became a best-seller since its launch in August. “As alumni and most of our ownership having grown up or lived in Las Cruces, NMSU has a special place in our hearts,” Jensen says. “When the call came in for us to consider brewing an NMSU licensed beer, we geeked out. Being able to support our alma mater by having this beer available at Aggie games and around town was a no-brainer for Bosque.” Pistol Pete’s 1888 Ale is named after the Aggie mascot and the year NMSU was founded. It is available on tap at the brewery’s Las Cruces taproom and at all Aggie football and men’s basketball home games. Cans of the ale will be available statewide early next year. Proceeds from each purchase also help NMSU athletic programs become financially independent. NMSU was the fifth university in the country to launch an officially licensed beer. With the two collaborations further establishing Bosque Brewing Co.’s reputation for good beer, its future looks very promising. “I believe our current growth trajectory will see us continue to open more locations in the state and with operations in other states as well,” Jameson says regarding his vision for the company’s future. “Our brewing capacity will have grown in the next 10 years to the point of facilitating massively expanded distribution, which is very exciting, but I also intend to have our employees’ and customers’ experience with Bosque Brewing Company remain consistent to the level of excellence it is today.”

Bosque Brewing Co. recognized for Brewing the American Dream

Bosque Brewing Co. was one of six breweries selected nationwide to be featured in a limited edition variety pack distributed by Sam Adams under the beer company’s Brewing the American Dream program. The program is in partnership with small business lender Accion to offer loans up to $50,000 for emerging food and beverage companies. Jotham Michnovicz, co-founding owner and director of operations for Bosque Brewing Co., says Bosque relied on a loan from Accion to help open its doors. The limited edition variety pack is now sold out in New Mexico. Adriana M. Chávez

Fall 2017 | New Mexico State University | Panorama



New Mexico State University Chancellor Garrey Carruthers, left, Director of Athletics Mario Moccia, right, and Gabe Jensen, managing director of Bosque Brewing Co., offer a toast with the Pistol Pete’s 1888 Ale during its launch event in Las Cruces. NMSU is only the fifth university in the country to launch an officially licensed beer. It’s named after the Aggie mascot and the year NMSU was founded.


Pistol Pete’s 1888 Ale features striking can designed at NMSU Named for our Aggie mascot The year NMSU was founded A blonde ale with a light malt sweetness Can designed at NMSU by Aggie graduate Randle Dominguez ’17 Lyrics of our Aggie fight song Boxes containing the ale were also designed at NMSU and are adorned with the Aggie and Bosque Brewing logos in crimson and white, along with the Pistol Pete icon. Cans of Pistol Pete’s 1888 Ale will be available for sale statewide beginning early next year.

12 Panorama | New Mexico State University | Fall 2017


What’s brewing on campus

NMSU’s collaboration with Bosque Brewing Co. isn’t the university’s first connection to beer. The College of Engineering’s Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering offers a brewing science and technology course that focuses on brewing operations such as milling, extraction, fermentation, cooling and filtration, which are all modeled by the fundamentals found in the chemical engineering curriculum. Last year, Frank and Jennifer Seidel gave $45,500 in support of equipment, operational funds, furnishings and related expenses for the brew lab located in the newly renovated Jett Hall. The department’s Brewing Engineering program is offering a brewery engineering education minor for the first time beginning this fall, and is in the process of designing an international brewery studies course that will take students around the globe to study the history of brewing. In the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences, food science offers a hands-on brewing class, which teaches students how to brew beer on a small scale. Adriana M. Chávez

Fall 2017 | New Mexico State University | Panorama


Just a CLICK Young local farmer captures the Mesilla Valley in stunning images By Kristie Garcia ’07

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Fall 2017 | New Mexico State University | Panorama


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t age 16, Jay Hill told his dad, Jim, he wanted to take over the 10-acre family farm to grow onions. Jim agreed to co-sign on the loan if Jay created a business plan and if he agreed to do all the work. The onion market was very profitable, and Jay leased the neighbor’s farm the following year. “I’ve gone from 10 acres to the 3,500 acres we have now,” Hill says. “We hope to be at 4,000 acres very soon and at 10,000 acres by the time I’m 40.” At age 33, Hill grows more than onions. The co-owner of Wholesome Valley Farms, Hill Farms, The Fresh Chile Company and Organ Mountain Produce, Hill and his team produce 63 crop varieties, including chile, pecans, squash, beans and alfalfa. Hill recently invested in an abandoned egg processing plant in Berino, New Mexico. The 270-acre property will have traditional farming operations, greenhouses, seed drying rooms and cottonseed milling. His first challenge was finding a solution to the contaminated groundwater. “Being the Aggie that I am, I remember professor Frank Ward saying that the solution to pollution is dilution,” Hill says. “I suggested we pump out the high-nitrate water at a slow rate, mix it with clean deep well water, and use that nitrate as a crop fertilizer.” So Hill had a $1.2 million state-of-the-art drip system installed on the farm. “We’re able to use that high-nitrate water to grow crops,” he says. “At the same time, we’re cleaning the drinking water for the community.” Not only does Hill have a special place in his heart for the community, but for his employees as well. “Everybody that works for us has a job to do, but it’s a labor of love,” he says. “I work with people who are invested – maybe not financially – but they are physically and emotionally attached to this farm.” Of his 27 full-time employees, five are NMSU alumni under age 30. And four of those are managers. He enjoys watching them grow and learn about the industry. Educating people about agriculture comes naturally to Hill. While pursuing a bachelor’s degree in individualized studies at NMSU, he realized that many people didn’t know much about agriculture. “Being out of the ag college really helped me develop the heart and the love to educate people about agriculture,” he says. “There’s one thing that brought us all together – we all eat every day.” Hill has continued to educate others, even on the national level. The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance selected him as one of America’s Faces of Farming & Ranching for 2015-2016. “I went coast to coast about 13 times, talking to people about what farmers and ranchers do,” Hill says. “I recently testified in front of Congress. When something important is going on in agriculture, they want somebody to speak who’s comfortable in their own skin.” Hill is also comfortable with a camera in his hands. In 2008, he borrowed his parents’ basic camera to take a photo of the sunrise. He was hooked. Nine years later, he owns a professional camera and a large photo collection. “I wanted to show agriculture in a professional photography light,” he says. “I’m colorblind, so shapes and emotions come out really well for me in clouds.” Although he is mostly self-taught, Hill is highly influenced by Las Cruces photographer Wayne Suggs. “Wayne has the most incredible eye, and I feel emotion in his photos,” Hill says. “When I shoot something on the farm, I want people to understand the emotion that goes into that picture.” The emotion felt in his photography may also be heard in his voice, whether he’s speaking about his employees or the community. “It doesn’t matter if you dig ditches or you’re a manager, everybody in the company has the same voice,” he says. “And as we’ve grown, the community has grabbed on to our idea, and we’re all growing together.”

Fall 2017 | New Mexico State University | Panorama



Abdel-Hameed Badawy, right, assistant professor in the Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, discusses a graphic with students Ian Goetting, center, and Strahinja Trecakov. For the past two summers, New Mexico State University has hosted a National Science Foundation funded project called a Research Experience for Undergraduates to encourage students to pursue graduate degrees in computer science before entering the workforce.

A pathway to



National Science Foundation funds NMSU computer-science research program fo

National Science Foundation-funded dataanalytics project in New Mexico State University’s Department of Computer Science held its second summer program to allow undergraduate students to participate in research and spark interest in graduate work in computer science. Funded in February 2016, the grant’s co-principal investigators are Huiping Cao and Jay Misra, both associate professors in the College of Arts and Sciences. “This project is called a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site,” Cao says. “Its main focus is to involve undergraduate students and encourage them to pursue graduate studies 18 Panorama | New Mexico State University | Fall 2017

rather than immediately going into the industry upon graduation. We also attempt to expose the students to the diverse applicability of big data analytics.” Cao says the research of data mining has gradually matured in the past 20 years, but recently it has started to attract more attention to create a broader interdisciplinary research field. “About seven years ago, the issue of big data emerged,” she says. “People realized that discovering useful knowledge from the big data has become more and more challenging. With sensing and monitoring becoming more pervasive, more and more fields like manufacturing, agriculture and climate monitoring are generating large amounts of data. There is a need for a new interdisciplinary


or undergrads

By Billy Huntsman ’16

workforce to meet the needs of data analytics in these diverse fields.” In her independent research, as well as for the undergraduate research program, Cao studies and teaches her students to design data-mining algorithms and machine learning models that analyze data more effectively and efficiently. Misra works in the areas of cybersecurity and cyber physical systems, where large amounts of data are generated and require use of existing data-analysis technologies and creation of new ones. This REU site was part of the first NMSU REU site grant. Cao says many computer science majors finish their education at the undergraduate level and go directly into the industry – and for good reason: Computer science jobs are among the highest in demand in the country, as well as some of the best paid. But computer science is a field that needs more academic research to enable more innovations in the industry, Cao said.

For the next year, Karen Mabry, associate professor in the Department of Biology in New Mexico State University’s College of Arts and Sciences, has accepted a temporary position as a program officer for the National Science Foundation’s Behavioral Systems Cluster in the Washington, D.C. area. The Behavioral Systems Cluster consists of the Animal Behavior Program, which supports research in the area of integrative animal behavior to understand how and why individuals and groups of animals do what they do in nature. Mabry’s research and that of the participants in her lab explores questions at the intersection of behavior and ecology, focusing on animal movement and social behavior. Mabry’s lab members work with several different animal species, including mice, kangaroo rats, dragonflies and songbirds. Her appointment was facilitated under the federal Intergovernmental Personnel Act. Such personnel assignments made under the act facilitate the beneficial sharing of personnel resources among government and universities by providing for the temporary assignments of personnel to and from the NSF and various state and local government agencies or institutions of higher education in instances where such assignments would be of mutual benefit to the organizations involved. For more about Mabry’s research, visit her lab website at site/mabrylab/home.

Fall 2017 | New Mexico State University | Panorama



NMSU biology professor selected to serve on special assignment at NSF

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“It is important for students at undergraduate levels to see the truly interdisciplinary nature of learning and research in computer science,” she says. “We want the students to embrace it as early as possible. That will make them better computer scientists and engineers tomorrow. With this project, we are trying to create an environment for such an understanding.” Cao says she and Misra were encouraged by computer science professor and now dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Enrico Pontelli, and were supported by about 10 professors in the Computer Science department and Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering to write the NSF grant. The first research program took place in summer 2016. The second took place this summer, and the third – and the grant’s final – will take place next summer. “We get applications from all over the country,” Cao says. “We accept 10 students and we choose them mainly based on their GPAs, but we also try to guarantee diversity. In computer science, we tend to have more men.” Applicants to the program do not need to be computer science majors already, but need to be enrolled undergraduate students. “This is totally a team effort,” Cao says. The 10 students stay at NMSU for 10 weeks and are guided by usually five volunteer professors, who specialize in different areas of big data research, including big data storage, analysis, transmission and visualization. Two NMSU students participated in the program’s first year: Ray A. Stubbs, computer science major, and Jacob Lee Fong-Mancha, electrical engineering major. Ian Getting, computer science major, represented NMSU in the summer of 2017. These volunteer professors guide the undergraduate students through the process of finding research topics, conducting literature review, implementing their research ideas, collecting research results and writing research papers to report their findings. The REU program also holds workshops related to writing research manuscripts, giving presentations on research topics and applying for fellowships – all key components to graduate school education. “In particular, if students are first-generation college students, they really have no idea where to go to get this information,” Cao says. “So we provide all that information for them.” The 10 students are provided with their own computers for the 10-week research, housing on the NMSU campus, meals, stipends and round-trip airfare or other travel costs. Cao said before the grant ends next year, the team plans to write a renewal grant in the hopes of continuing the summer REU site. “More than anything, I hope the students who participate in the REU research come away from it with the mindset that continuing to learn and grow is important,” Cao says.

Huiping Cao (pictured) and Jay Misra, associate professors in the Department of Computer Science, are co-principal investigators for a National Science Foundation funded dataanalytics project called a Research Experience for Undergraduates. The project hosts 10 undergraduate students from across the country for 10 weeks during the summer.

Some notable National Science Foundation awards at NMSU

Towards Ubiquitous Adoption of Wireless Sensor Networks in Experimental Biology Research, $832,000 Satyajayant Misra, computer science professor, principal investigator; Graciela Unguez, biology professor, coprincipal investigator; Hong Huang, engineering professor, co-principal investigator This project will enable experimental researchers in labs and in the field to stimulate and monitor animals/specimens wirelessly in real-time and without human intervention, which will significantly improve understanding of animal responses to diverse stimuli. Undergraduate Research in Immigration Policy, $373,256 Neil Harvey, government professor, principal investigator The Undergraduate Research on Immigration Policy REU Site will provide undergraduate researchers with training in social science research methods related to issues facing the U.S.-Mexico border region, particularly in the El Paso/Las Cruces area. Sediment Recycling in Southern Cascadia: Insights from Seafloor Sediment and Mafic Volcanic Rock Geochemistry, $136,691 Emily Johnson, assistant professor, geological sciences; Frank Ramos, associate professor, geological sciences This project studies the chemical composition of lavas erupted from volcanoes in the southern Cascade mountains in Oregon and California to better understand the physical processes affecting the molten rock gathering beneath the volcanoes. Variation in erupted material composition influences the nature of an eruption, with very gas-rich magmas tending to make very explosive eruptions, whereas gas-poor magmas have more docile, effusive eruptions. Results of this work will aid understanding of the style of anticipated future volcanism within the Cascades.

Fall 2017 | New Mexico State University | Panorama


Celebratin a Mesilla Valley heritage Library endowment will support local historic collections in honor of family’s enduring legacy


By Tiffany Acosta ith family roots in the Mesilla Valley that can be traced back to the 1870s, Humboldt Mandell Jr. was searching for a way to honor his parents, Humboldt Casad Mandell and Evangeline Smith Mandell, after their lifetimes. “My family’s roots are in the Mesilla Valley. We are all descended from Thomas and Sarah (Sallie) Casad,” says Mandell. “For several years, I searched Mesilla bookshops and looked online for records on the family and was frustrated that there was little or no information.” Mandell then approached New Mexico State University about penning a book about his family’s history that resulted in “The Casads: A Pioneer Family of the Mesilla Valley,” written by Rick Hendricks in 2012. The initial association has led to a new creation, the Humboldt Casad Mandell and Evangeline Smith Mandell Endowment to honor the couple, who are both NMSU alumni. A $100,000 gift from Mandell will support the Rio Grande Historical Collections in the Branson Library, and the acquiring of collections and processing costs such as supplies, labor, shelving and transportation. “After a number of years, when the relationship with the NMSU Library developed, thanks to Dean Elizabeth Titus and Rick Hendricks, and the family archive was established, we saw a need to provide some assistance to assure its future,” Mandell says. “So the two needs converged: the need to memorialize my parents, with the need to support the living memorial to them and our ancestors, which is the archive.” One of Thomas and Sarah Casad’s grandsons, Humboldt married Evangeline in 1930, and he owned and farmed land west of Canutillo, which Mandell says the family still thinks of as home. The Casads arrived in Mesilla on Christmas eve in 1874. They played a vital role in both the agricultural and social development of the region. One of their daughters, Jessie Casad, was the only graduate in the second graduating class from then New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts in 1895. The Casad family also cared for and helped educate Fabian Garcia, who became not only a leading faculty member and administrator at NMSU, but also one of the most significant agriculturalists from the state of New Mexico. In late September, the Humboldt Casad Mandell and Evangeline Smith Mandell Exhibit Gallery on the fourth floor of the Branson Library was unveiled.

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Top: The Humboldt Casad Mandell and Evangeline Smith Mandell Exhibit Gallery on the fourth floor of Branson Library was unveiled in September at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Bottom: The exhibit features materials such as photos, family papers, letters, legal papers, business and financial records of the descendants of Thomas and Sarah (Sallie) Casad, who settled in the Mesilla Valley in the 1870s.



Fall 2017 | New Mexico State University | Panorama


makes an impact at NMSU Computer science majors search for new experiences during Google internships


ew Mexico State University computer science majors Elena Davidson and Nicole Price got the opportunity of a lifetime when they interned at Google this summer. Davidson was an engineering practicum intern at the Mountain View, California, location. She worked on an open-source technical interview preparation tool for college students created by Google’s EngEDU team. “Interning at Google was an incredible experience, and I am so grateful I had this opportunity,” Davidson says. “It definitely gave me the knowledge and skills necessary to participate in more internships and to pursue a career in the tech industry.” Price was an information technology intern at the Ann Arbor, Michigan, and New York City offices, where she maintained, monitored and fixed Google’s corporate computer systems and networks. She worked on many other projects, including one for which she designed multiple break-and-fix networking labs to help employees learn about networking and to enhance their troubleshooting skills in preparation for various certification exams. “The experience I gained has prepared me and further inspired me to pursue a career in technology,” Price says. “In fact, the internship led to an interview for a full-time position after graduation in December.”

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By Kristie Garcia ’07



Educators bring computational thinking to other disciplines through Google grant

Elena Davidson, left, and Nicole Price, right, New Mexico State University computer science majors, spent their summer interning at Google. Davidson, an engineering practicum intern, worked on a interview preparation tool for college students, while Price, an information technology intern, focused on Google’s corporate computer systems and networks.

A grant from Google allowed high school teachers to receive innovative trainings and helped undergraduate students provide after-school educational activities for K-12 students. Google awarded $25,000 to the computer science department in NMSU’s College of Arts and Sciences to continue the Computer Science for High School (CS4HS) program. NMSU CompThink! – through the Google CS4HS program – infuses computational thinking into non-computer science courses and allows computer science education experts to provide professional development opportunities for up to 25 high school teachers. Raena Cota, a program specialist in the computer science department, coordinates NMSU CompThink!. The original 2016 grant proposal was a collaboration among Cota, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Enrico Pontelli and Elisa Cundiff, a local high school computer science teacher. “We are big into what Google refers to as ‘creating a community of practice’: bringing high school teachers together from Las Cruces Public Schools and Gadsden Independent School District to start talking about using computational thinking and computer science in their classrooms,” Cota says. “There is definitely excitement all around this program, and we see the greatest level of excitement with our humanities teachers. “The teachers begin to think about what they are teaching in their English, literature or Spanish classes more as a sequence of steps, which is an algorithm. When students are asked to take a paragraph and write an essay based on that text, that’s abstraction, which is a concept of computational thinking. When chemistry teachers explain how to balance a chemical equation, they’re teaching an algorithm.” Training includes an online course created by program leaders through Google Classroom. Cota says technology used in the classrooms features some type of programming element. For example, Ozobots – small programmable robots that may be coded using colored markers and block-based programming – have been used in many of the classrooms. This is the second consecutive year Google has funded a CS4HS program at NMSU. Google also supported two undergraduate computer science programs last spring. Young Women in Computing and Discover Science through Computational Thinking received more than $8,000 from the igniteCS Google program to lead after school activities for 85 students in grades K-12. Kristie Garcia ’07

Fall 2017 | New Mexico State University | Panorama



Mark Medoff, emeritus professor, works with deaf actress Phyllis Frelich (left), and two other members of the cast for the premier of “The Hands of Its Enemy” in 1984 at NMSU. The production of the play about a deaf playwright followed Medoff’s 1980 Tony award winning “Children of a Lesser God,” which also starred Frelich.

From the Heart Award-winning playwright still teaching after 50 years Medoff’s play, “Children of a Lesser God,” returns to Broadway this spring


By Minerva Baumann ’13

hen Mark Medoff arrived in Las Cruces in 1966 to teach at New Mexico State University, at age 26 and fresh from Stanford University, he didn’t think he’d stay longer than a year. “I’ve just started my 51st year at NMSU and in Las Cruces,” Medoff says. “As a young English instructor, I broke out in sweats before each of my classes every day for the first few months: part excitement that I was responsible for facilitating 26 Panorama | New Mexico State University | Fall 2017

the education of several hundred students a year and part terror that one of those 18-year-olds or returning Vietnam vets would realize I was a poseur who really didn’t know much about anything.” Writer Denise Chavez remembers the Tony Award-winning playwright, Oscar-nominated screenwriter and award-winning director as a young professor who allowed students to dream. “My first class with him was a Modern American Literature course in the late 1960s,” Chavez says. “I wasn’t a very good student, but I loved reading, and that is what we did in the class.


and had been sold for distribution. In 1974, Medoff received NMSU’s highest faculty honor, the Westhafer Award. In 1980, he was honored with the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, which is New Mexico’s most prestigious lifetime artistic honor. In 2005, he received the Kennedy Center Medallion for Excellence in Education and Artistic Achievement, an award given periodically to a practicing artist who is also a career teacher. “I still love going to the classroom,” Medoff says. “At this time in my life, I feel I actually know a few things worth passing on to my students. The thing I love most about going to class harkens back 51 years to professors Tom Erhard, John Hadsell and Felipe Ortego, who showed me over and over the power of compassion, of collaboration, of strength in the face of lunacy. I can’t teach students to write, to direct, to act, but I can create an atmosphere in which they can teach themselves.” MICHAEL BUNCHMAN

This course was a great awakening and a wake-up call. Mark was already then a very good teacher.” Medoff says he learned much about teaching from a fellow professor. “Professor Tom Erhard, one of my earliest mentors at NMSU, a veteran teacher and playwright, answered the question of a novice teacher this way: ‘The best classroom situation is the one where the teacher teaches the students and the students teach the teacher.’” A Distinguished Achievement Professor at NMSU, Medoff has written more than 30 plays, many of which premiered in Las Cruces. He’s garnered numerous awards for his work, including a Tony Award for his play “Children of a Lesser God,” which will star Joshua Jackson in a Broadway revival next spring. “When I spent a week this summer at rehearsals for the revival of ‘Children,’ I thought, ‘Wow, this is a good play.’ It’s humbling, rewarding, and a little bit hilarious that this particular creature that was birthed in Las Cruces at NMSU is doing well out in the ‘big world.’” After 12 years in NMSU’s English Department in the College of Arts and Sciences, Medoff headed the Department of Theatre Arts for nine years. He also cofounded with Bruce Streett the American Southwest Theatre Company in 1984 and helped form the Creative Media Institute at NMSU in 2005, where he continues to teach as a senior fellow. Amy Lanasa, CMI department head, was also his student and calls Medoff a non-traditional teacher. “He teaches without teaching, and inspires his students to have a stake in each other’s work,” says Lanasa. “He is a great, empathetic listener, which makes him a wonderful teacher of writing, where, inevitably, students need a listening ear as they struggle through the work. I have learned and continue to learn a lot from him.” Earlier this year, “The Heart Outright,” a film Medoff wrote as a sequel to his play “When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder?” premiered in Las Cruces. The film was shot in Las Cruces with a student crew guided by Medoff’s son-in-law, CMI assistant professor Ross Marks, and produced by CMI graduate Dave Witt. The film has been screened at film festivals

Top: Scene from “The Heart Outright” in which screen writer Mark Medoff (left), who also acts in the film, argues with actor Brad Makarowski (right), who plays the role of Stephen “Red” Ryder, while Jessica Medoff, who plays the role of Angel Childress, watches the two men. Bottom: Workshop for the Mark Medoff play “Time and Chance” in New York City in the summer of 2017. From back left, Abigail Wahl, actor; Medoff, writer-director; Bob Steinberg, set designer/dramaturg; Emma Grimsley, actor; and Jessica Medoff, assistant director. From front left, Morgana Shaw, actor; Alicia Thompson, stage manager; Lena Georgas, actor; and Henry Bunchman, Medoff’s grandson.

Fall 2017 | New Mexico State University | Panorama



DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI Congratulations to all of our Distinguished Alumni and our James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service recipient. We’re proud of your outstanding achievements and service, and grateful for Esteban Hererra ’74

College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences

Retired from a career of research in horticulture specializing in pecans

your commitment to New Mexico State University.

Del Esparza ’91

Irene Oliver Lewis ’75, ’78

College of Arts and Sciences

Retired from a career in theater arts

MaryLou Davis ’69

College of Business

College of Education

Founder and CEO of Esparza Advertising

Retired from a career in education

Eloy Torrez ’70

College of Engineering

Founder, owner and president of SEI Group, Inc.

28 Panorama | New Mexico State University | Fall 2017

Sue Gerber ’84

James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service Frank Seidel ’82

Senior Program Officer of the polio team at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

President and founder of Seidel Technologies

College of Health and Social Services

College of Engineering

Social Media Corner

Are you following NMSU Alumni and Friends on your favorite social media platforms?

Find us at: NMSU Alumni and Friends @NMSUAlumFriends @NMSU Alumni and Friends @nmsualumfriends NMSU Alumni and Friends

Fall 2017 | New Mexico State University | Panorama



On behalf of the NMSU system and its students, thank you! With your generosity, our Ignite Aggie Discovery campaign has raised more than $81 million so far toward our goal of $125 million.
















Your support makes it possible to Ignite Aggie Discovery across the entire NMSU system.

thank you! @nmsualumfriends

Find out how you can make a difference. Visit us at Questions or comments? We’d love to hear from you! Send us an email at 30 Panorama | New Mexico State University | Fall 2017

TURNING TRAGEDY INTO TRIUMPH Memorial scholarship created for Giving Tuesday boosts students and their families



ew Mexico State University’s first-ever Giving Tuesday event on Dec. 1, 2015, was a huge fundraising success, but that occasion was tinged with sadness for many at the university who had lost their friend, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences graduate Hannah Farbo, just the week before following a tragic auto accident. Farbo’s parents and her best friend, Colleen Payne, took some comfort in establishing a scholarship in her honor to benefit students who shared her passion for horses and New Mexico agriculture. They created the Hannah Farbo Memorial Endowed Scholarship with an initial $13,000 in funds gathered from friends and family for Giving Tuesday, and matched dollar-for-dollar by the NMSU Foundation to create an endowed fund. The scholarship is already making an impact in the lives of three students in the College of ACES who have received it so far. The first recipient, Alexandria Claycomb, a junior from Albuquerque majoring in animal science, said receiving the scholarship meant the world to her and her mother. “I was honored to receive such a special scholarship created in loving memory of a successful, admirable, beautiful girl who was taken too soon,” Claycomb says. The scholarship helped Claycomb’s family by offsetting tuition costs at a crucial time, when her mother, Giovanna Eisberg, was in school herself, working toward her Ph.D. “I am now proud to call my mom Dr. Eisberg,” Claycomb says. “Thank you for not only granting me a scholarship, but one that truly touched my heart.” Amanda Bradford ’03

Best friends Colleen Payne, left, and Hannah Farbo celebrate their NMSU graduation. Farbo passed away in 2015, and Payne worked with Farbo’s parents to established an endowed scholarship in her memory.

Giving Tuesday returns November 28, 2017! Make an impact at

Fall 2017 | New Mexico State University | Panorama





fixture at New Mexico State University games, Betty Meerscheidt was known to Aggie fans for waving her giant NMSU flag, which included a pair of red bloomers with black lacy fringe, from her seat behind the scorer’s table at the Pan American Center. In the beginning, Meerscheidt would wave the flag frequently at both basketball and football games, but things changed, and she became very selective. The flag also made appearances at rivalry games in Albuquerque, despite glares from opposing fans. “Our mom was such a grinner and had such an infectious smile – who was going to take that away from her?” says Marilynn Morris, Meerscheidt’s daughter. “She would smile her way out of anything.” Janette Brunt, another of Meerscheidt’s daughters, recalls even the smallest fans enjoyed the Aggie emblem. “Little kids would visit mom and wave the flag, and she had a marker and they got to sign the flag.” Morris admits that, as a teenager, her reaction to her mother’s spirited display was more of a cringe. “For me growing up, I didn’t like the flag,” she says. “When you’re in school and your mom is waving bloomers … I stayed as far away from her as I could. It was too much attention for a kid.” Tiffany Acosta

Betty Meerscheidt, seated with her husband, Stuart, waves her well-known Aggie flag at a New Mexico State University basketball game in the Pan American Center. Meerscheidt cheered on decades of Aggies until her death in 2004. Stuart passed away earlier this year. 32 Panorama | New Mexico State University | Fall 2017


Super-fan Betty Meerscheidt let her fun flag fly – bloomers and all

NO LIMITS. NO BOUNDARIES. NMSU rolls out bold new marketing effort



ew Mexico State University is hitting the region hard, looking for the next generation of Aggie students while also connecting with Aggie alumni. NMSU’s Marketing and Communications office launched an updated marketing campaign earlier this year to target potential students in New Mexico, El Paso, Arizona, Colorado and Southern California while also building Aggie pride with alumni. The campaign involves advertisements on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, television, radio and billboards. It also includes promotions in Google search results as well as in movie theaters, malls and airports around the region. The advertisements feature bold crimson and white elements, large text and the mountainous desert landscape that surrounds Las Cruces. A special promotion, “I am an Aggie,” will also feature successful alumni as well as current NMSU students preparing to be future leaders. This fall, enrollment of first-time freshmen at NMSU is up 11.3 percent from the same time last year. That marks the university’s largest increase in first-time freshmen in more than 17 years. Additionally, community college transfers at NMSU are up more than 17 percent. Justin Bannister ’03 ’13

Fall 2017 | New Mexico State University | Panorama



Pistol Pete invades social media


rior to the 2017-18 athletic season, New Mexico State University athletics and MyWeb GP, LLC announced a partnership allowing Aggie fans to spread their love of the Crimson and White with Aggie-centric emojis.


NMSU fans can now show their Aggie pride with customized Pistol Pete emojis on social media, texts and other messaging apps as they cheer on the Aggies. The customized emojis were designed by renowned artists from Marvel, DC Comics, Universal Studios, Disney and Blue Sky. “While emojis have been around for a while, they remain very popular and this innovative new vehicle is one more way to spread the Aggie brand nationwide,” NMSU Director of Athletics Mario Moccia says. “We are excited to join over 30 schools in participating with MyWeb on this unique program.” The Pistol Pete emojis are available in the Apple Store, and can be found by searching “Ree Stickers.” A portion of the emoji set will be available for free while the remainder of the set can be purchased for a onetime nominal fee of $1.99. An Android version was expected to be available this fall. John Vu

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Recent books by NMSU alumni Compiled by Jane Moorman

Michele Companion, Miriam S. Chaiken CRC PRESS

Miriam Chaiken, dean of New Mexico State University’s William Conroy Honor College, has co-authored this book with Michele Companion. As an applied nutritional anthropologist, Chaiken has lived throughout the world and has collaborated with humanitarian organizations, such as Save the Children and UNICEF, to help create effective and culturally sensitive programs to address hunger, malnutrition, food security and gender equity in developing countries. This book uses case studies from around the globe to demonstrate ways that communities have fostered resilience to mitigate the impacts of climate change. As the global climate shifts, communities are faced with myriad mitigation and adaptation challenges. These highlight the political, cultural, economic, social and physical vulnerability of social groups, communities, families and individuals. They also foster resilience and creative responses.

Silicon Blood

Arlan Andrews Sr. ’64,’66 ’69 HYDRA PUBLICATIONS

Hydra Publications of Goshen, Kentucky, has purchased four books by Arlan Andrews Sr., a New Mexico State University mechanical engineering alumnus. “Silicon Blood” and “Future Flash” are the latest science fiction novels of the founder and director of SIGMA, the science fiction think tank, as well as a former Hugo Award nominee. “Silicon Blood” is a near-future tale of nanotech-based crime and punishment. “Future Flash” is a collection of some of Andrews’ short science fiction stories. Andrews is a registered professional engineer and a former ASME White House Fellow in the White House Science Office (Office of Science and Technology Policy). While at the White House, he wrote the first government endorsement of nanotechnology in 1993. Andrews founded SIGMA, the science

fiction think tank, to provide the federal government with pro bono futurism of the type that only science fiction writers can provide while serving in the White House Science Office.


Responses to Disasters and Climate Change: Understanding Vulnerability and Fostering Resilience

Foxtrot in Kandahar: A Memoir of a CIA Officer in Afghanistan at the Inception of America’s Longest War Duane Evans ’78 SAVAS BEATIE, LLC

Kandahar. The ancient desert crossroads and, as of fall of 2001, ground zero for the Taliban and alQaeda in southern Afghanistan. In the northern part of the country, the United States-supported Northern Alliance (the Afghan organization opposed to the Taliban regime) has made progress on the battlefield, but in the south, the country is still under the Taliban’s bloody hold and alQaeda continues to operate there. With no “Southern Alliance” for the U.S. to support, a new strategy is needed if victory is to be achieved. Veteran CIA officer Duane Evans is dispatched to Pakistan to “get something going in the South.” “Foxtrot in Kandahar” is his story. Evans’s unexpected journey from the pristine halls of Langley to the badlands of southern Afghanistan began within hours after watching the horrors of 9/11 unfold during a chance visit to FBI Headquarters. It was then he decided to begin a personal and relentless quest to become part of the U.S. response against al-Qaeda. Evans’s gripping memoir tracks his efforts to join one of CIA’s elite teams bound for Afghanistan, a journey that eventually takes him to the front lines in Pakistan, first as part of the advanced element of CIA’s Echo team supporting Hamid Karzai, and finally as leader of the under-resourced and often overlooked Foxtrot team. Brilliantly crafted and fast-paced, “Foxtrot in Kandahar: A Memoir of a CIA Officer in Afghanistan at the Inception of

America’s Longest War” fills a major gap in the literature of the war’s critical and complex early months.

The Lizard in a Blizzard Stephen Evans ’09, Mic Ru ’08 2ND TOUR PUBLISHING

“The Lizard in a Blizzard” is the third children’s book from Stephen Evans and Mic Ru. The duo published “The Bee Who Sneezed” and “The Rat Who Loved Math” in 2016. In “The Lizard in a Blizzard,” an unlikely pair crosses the Rocky Mountains during a tumultuous winter storm. The Sheep Dog and his herd of cows are forced to take cover when a blizzard blows through, but the coldblooded lizard feels the effects of the storm and may not survive the temperatures. A great friendship is formed during the turbulent times and Sheep Dog saves the day. Evans, who is currently the head chef for the University of Missouri Athletic Dining, found his hidden talent for writing children’s stories after he earned a bachelor’s degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management at NMSU. Evans’ partner, illustrator Ru, earned a fine arts bachelor’s degree at NMSU. The pair of military veterans – Evans served in the U.S. Navy and Ru served in the U.S. Army – also created 2nd Tour Publishing together. Fall 2017 | New Mexico State University | Panorama



An Aggie home

Three generations of the DeMund family are pursuing degrees at NMSU


instruction, and Sulieman is pursuing his government and international relations master’s degree. Sulieman says he hopes to recruit more family and friends to NMSU. “When you are in this school, this school takes care of you,” he says. “I can’t ask for a better university. I brag to everybody about this gem.” Alchesay, who graduated from Las Cruces High School in 2017, is a freshman and Harold, a retiree who will be 75 in October, audits courses. The pair is taking a government course together. “I’m taking courses I never would have taken when I was in school,” Harold says. “I’ll probably go to school until they throw the dirt on top of me. My mother says continue to learn something new every day – keep your brains in gear. She’s 98 years old.” Tiffany Acosta


cross-country road trip to California in 2002 started the DeMund family’s journey to New Mexico State University. When the family was looking to relocate from the United States Virgin Islands and continue their academic studies, the DeMunds remembered travelling through Las Cruces. Norma DeMund, her son, Sulieman, her daughter, Ilé, and Ilé’s son, Alchesay, visited NMSU’s campus in 2010. Three years later, Norma, her husband, Harold, Ilé and Alchesay moved to Las Cruces, and Sulieman, an U.S. Navy and Air Force veteran, followed in 2014. Since arriving at NMSU, Norma has completed the course work for her Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction. “Being in the College of Education, it feels like home,” says Norma, who dreams of starting a school. “They make you feel very, very comfortable.” Ilé is working on her master’s degree in curriculum and

Three generations of the DeMund family moved to Las Cruces to continue their academic careers. From left to right: Alchesay DeMund, freshman, Ilé DeMund, graduate student, Harold DeMund, audits courses, Norma DeMund, doctoral student, and Sulieman DeMund, gradute student, found the right fit at New Mexico State University.

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Become a rePETE giver to make a lasting impact

Steady contributions of any amount help the New Mexico State University system create a strong foundation on which to build our great institution and campuses across the state. As the mascot for NMSU, Pistol Pete is proud of the school he gets to call home – from the sheep barns to the theaters, to seeing Aggie alumni make their way into the world. Making a monthly or quarterly gift of any amount is a simple and sustainable way to make an impact, and we’re calling these important donors our “rePETE” givers in honor of Pistol Pete. A rePETE gift may be created, adjusted or stopped at any time by contacting the NMSU Foundation.

Right now, we’re extending a special opportunity for our rePETE givers to double their impact. If you sign up by Dec. 31, 2017, we’ll match your rePETE gift dollar for dollar for a full year.

To learn more about becoming a rePETE giver, visit

PANORAMA New Mexico State University Alumni & Friends Magazine





The 1888 Society Key – what does it mean?

New Mexico State University’s 1888 Society recognizes individuals who have notified us that New Mexico State University is included in their estate plans as the beneficiary of a will, trust, life income gift, life insurance policy, retirement plan or other planned gifts. To celebrate and honor their generosity, we give each member their own 1888 Society Key. We think of it as a key to our university’s future, and point of Aggie pride. A careful look at the design reveals Aggie history and symbolism, including the Miller Field Gate that appears as the key’s teeth and is the logo of the 1888 Society. We ask our 1888 Society members to display it proudly, and hope that this conversation piece will encourage them to share their Aggie story, and inspire others to consider philanthropy at NMSU.To learn more about becoming a member of the 1888 Society, visit, send an email to or call 800-342-6678.

NMSU Panorama Fall 2017  
NMSU Panorama Fall 2017  

Panorama is the New Mexico State University Alumni & Friends magazine.