When Aggie baseball players start the 2020 season, they will have a new facility to help them hone their skills thanks to long-time donors and loyal Aggie fans, Mike and Judy Johnson, who have pledged $900,000 to build a new training facility for the NMSU baseball program.
Aggie players will prepare for next season in the new 4,500 square foot facility, located adjacent to the team dugout along the third base line. Housing three designated hitting locations, along with two dual use batting and pitching areas, the facility will enable more players to practice specific skills at the same time.
While consistent sunshine often makes Las Cruces an ideal climate for baseball, late season temperatures in April and May can limit outdoor practices. The facility’s open air design, including exterior screen walls, a standing seam roof and protected ceiling fans, was crafted by national architecture firm HOK to enable sustained seasonal practices for Aggie athletes despite rising spring temperatures.
In recent years Aggie baseball players and fans benefitted from other projects funded by Mike and Judy, including extensive stadium renovations to Presley Askew Field completed with a $1.4 million gift from the couple in 2013.
The funding for the new training facility is an extension of Mike and Judy’s love for NMSU baseball, and part of a larger goal to assist the
Aggies in becoming a top 25 program in the NCAA with a high quality stadium that can host a regional NCAA tournament.
“We want to make sure the baseball team is taken care of,” Mike explains, “and to be competitive, you not only have to have talented players, you need a place where they can play and improve, where their hard work meets opportunity.”
The Johnsons’ generosity has already shaped the program’s progress in recent years, according to NMSU Director of Athletics, Mario
Moccia. “With Mike and Judy’s original and continued investment in the stadium, our Aggie baseball program has rocketed to success,” says Moccia.
Some recent team successes include a rise from 11 wins in 2015 to four consecutive years with 35 plus victories, a 2018 Western Athletic Conference Tournament title, a NCAA Regional appearance in 2018 and a regular season title in 2019.
Improved facilities often increase the success of college programs. State-of-the-art facilities enhance player skill and preparation, and also play a role in attracting recruits.
“The new training facility will be a tremendous addition to the Aggie baseball program, and another major step in creating one of the premier college baseball stadium complexes in the southwest,” an aspect Moccia says will help in recruitment efforts around the southwest region, where many Aggie players come from.
NMSU Foundation Vice President, Dr. Tina Byford, praised the Johnsons and highlighted their continued support of NMSU. “Long-time supporters of NMSU in many capacities, Mike and Judy’s financial generosity is matched by their service. We are grateful for this exceptional gift to the baseball program and express our sincere thanks for their commitment to NMSU students.”
Mike and Judy’s sustained philanthropy towards NMSU extends to the academic arena as well. The Johnsons established the Michael L. Johnson Endowed Chair in the Department of Geological Sciences, the Daisy Gray Endowed Scholarship for students majoring in Education and the Lionel Haight Endowed Chair in Accounting, among others.
Service has also been a significant part of Mike and Judy’s history with the university. Judy recently joined the NMSU Foundation board and also served as a board member on the College of Education’s Board of Advocates and NMSU’s College of Business Advisory Council. Mike served as an NMSU Foundation board member for many years, including in the role of chairman.
UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry, along with his revamped roster will experience their first Battle of I-10 on Friday (Nov. 9) as UTEP will face NM State for the first time this season.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. in the Pan American Center.
“It’s obviously a great rivalry, one that we have tremendous respect for and respect for their program and what they’ve been able to do,” Terry said. “There’s obvious respect for coach (Chris) Jans and how he gets his guys prepared to compete at a very high level. I think it’s great for both of us to compete at a high level and continue to get better.”
The Miners and Aggies will face each other for the 216th time on Friday night, while the two will square off for a second time this season on Wednesday, November 28 in the Don Haskins Center.
The November 9 date is the earliest that the two programs will meet in the history of the rivalry, while it’s the second time since the 2014-15 season that UTEP will take on NM State in its second game of the season.
The Miners (1-0) are coming off a 90-63 victory over UT Permian Basin on Nov. 6, while Terry chalked up his first win as UTEP’s head coach. Terry started two freshmen in Efe Odigie and Jordan Lathon, while Kaosi Ezeagu played significant minutes off the bench. The trio combined for 39 points, the second-most combined points ever by UTEP freshmen in a season opener.
Odigie impressed in his UTEP debut, scoring 23 points and pulling down nine rebounds in 19 minutes of action. Odigie’s tied the most points ever by a UTEP freshman in a season opener. Terry’s other big man, Ezeagu, made a positive impression, scoring 10 points, tallying nine rebounds and blocking a pair of shots. Lathon led the Miners with 10 rebounds, dished out four assists, blocked two shots and chipped in with six points. Lathon was the first UTEP freshman with 10-plus boards in a season opener since 1978.
As far as UTEP’s returning letterwinners, Paul Thomas energized the Miner faithful and his teammates with a thunderous dunk over a UT Permian Basin defender during the second half. The senior scored 10 points, blocked a shot, tallied a pair of dimes and three rebounds.
Evan Gilyard led the Miners with 24 points on 6-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc. The sophomore sensation scored 16 of his points during the second half, while connecting on 5-of-7 three-point buckets. Gilyard tied for the team lead with fellow sophomore Kobe Magee as each dished out five assists. Magee was the first Miner to play the full 40 minutes in season opener since Nov. 21, 2000.
After heading to the locker room up four points (38-34), Terry’s squad came out with more intensity during the second half and outscored the Falcons, 52-29, after hitting on more than 65 percent of their field goals. Overall, UTEP connected on over 52 percent of its field goals, while going 11-for-23 from three-point range. The Miners also dished out 19 assists, combined for six blocks and outrebounded their opponent, 42-40. UTEP’s 42 free throw attempts were its third-most in a season opener.
The Aggies (1-0) also won on opening night, defeating North Dakota State, 73-56. Redshirt senior JoJo Zamora led the team with 16 points in 19 minutes, while junior Terrell Brown scored 13 points off the bench. Junior Clayton Henry led NM State with seven rebounds and chipped in with eight points. The Aggies recorded eight assists and outrebounded NDSU 47-31.
UTEP and NM State is the longest-running series in school history, as the Aggies lead the series 112-103.
Last season during the first meeting on Nov. 25 in Las Cruces, Thomas (30 minutes) and Gilyard (33 minutes) tied for the team lead with 14 points each and registered five rebounds apiece.
During the second meeting in El Paso, Thomas recorded nine points and three rebounds, while Magee, after only playing one minute in the first meeting, upped his minutes to eight in the second game.
The UTEP Soccer (6-4-1) team beat rival team NM State Aggies (1-9) 4-1 to win the Battle of I-10 Sunday night at University Field.
Natalie Valentine, Anna Jimmerson, Vic Bohdan and Hayley Vaughan all contributed to Sunday night’s win with a goal each. The sole goal for the Aggies came from a penalty kick taken by Katie Martinez.
“It was good response after a tough loss on Thursday,” said UTEP head coach Kevin Cross. “This was a big win for us especially for it being a rivalry game. The crowd was phenomenal, the American Outlaws came out banging their drums giving the team motivation tonight.”
The Miners wasted no time with Valentine scoring the 10th-fastest goal in program history at the 1:58 minute mark.
The first half was action packed with both teams playing hard and strong. The Miners outshot the Aggies 11-9, but it was a battle between the teams with a total of 14 fouls in the first half. The Miner defense blocked many of the shots taken by NM State.
Bohdan scored her fourth goal (39’) of the season by dribbling past the defenders into the box and putting the ball away.
Shortly after, a hand ball was called inside the Miner box that resulted in a penalty kick for the Aggies.
The third goal for the Miners came just seconds before the end of the first half. Jojo Ngongo chased a ball to the end line. She then passed it back into the box for Vaughan (45’) to tap it into the goal.
The second half was another hard-fought half. The Miners took 10 shots to the Aggies’ six. The UTEP defense was not letting anything get by them. In the 75th minute, Kori Lewis chased down an Aggie forward and made a big tackle inside the box.
Late into the second half, in the 80th minute there was a thrilling moment when Valentine put the ball in the back of the net and the crowd went wild. Unfortunately, the goal was disallowed when the play was called offside. Moments later she was hungry to get that goal back but shot the ball over the net.
Jimmerson put the icing on the cake with a goal of her own in the 88th minute. A UTEP defender cleared the ball over the Aggie defense for Jimmerson to chase down and put it past the keeper.
The Orange and Blue will continue Conference USA play at home against UAB on Thursday night at 7 p.m. at University Field. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for kids and may be purchased by calling 915-747-5234.
Royce Caldwell scored the go-ahead touchdown on a long pass play late in the third quarter, and NM State held on for a 27-20 victory over UTEP on Saturday in the Sun Bowl.
On a third-and-five play near midfield, Aggie quarterback Josh Adkins hooked up with Caldwell for the 53-yard score with 2:46 remaining in the period, breaking a 17-17 deadlock.
The Miners (0-4) closed the gap to 24-20 on a 34-yard field goal by Jason Filley with 8:20 to go in the final period.
UTEP held the Aggies (1-4) to a field goal and got the ball back with 3:24 remaining, but Kai Locksley’s desperation pass on fourth and long was intercepted by NMSU’s Austin Perkins to seal the outcome.
“A lot of positives,” UTEP coach Dana Dimel said. “You look at the game and how it played out. The way we ran the football, the way we controlled the line of scrimmage, the way we executed statistically, if you looked at the game we won the statistics but that doesn’t mean anything. You’ve got to win points, and that’s the thing we didn’t do.”
UTEP racked up 64 rushing attempts, its most in a game since 1997, as Quardraiz Wadley picked up his second career 100-yard night with 111 yards on 20 carries.
Locksley added 27 carries for 64 yards as UTEP gained 235 yards on the ground. But the Miners were caught running backwards a little too often, as the Aggies registered eight sacks.
The game got off to a rough start for the Miners as Mitchell Crawford’s punt on the first possession of the game was blocked by the Aggies’ Christian Gibson and returned 19 yards for a TD by Izaiah Lottie.
UTEP responded nicely with a nine-play, 75-yard drive, as Locksley ran into the end zone from one yard out to knot the game at 7.
After the teams exchanged field goals, things took a turn for the worse for UTEP late in the second half. First, driving for the go-ahead score, the Miners coughed up the football inside the red zone. Then, after UTEP’s A.J. Hotchkins sacked Adkins and Jamar Smith recovered his fumble near midfield, Locksley was sacked himself by Cedric Wilcots II, fumbled and Malik Demby returned the miscue 55 yards for a 17-10 NMSU lead.
“Too many mistakes,” Dimel said. “It starts off with a blocked punt to start a game. When you get a punt blocked, I think the percentage of winning, they’ve done surveys on that, I think the chance of winning is 18 percent. We get a punt blocked, and then we had the turnover there in the second quarter, and then the turnover late in the second quarter, that was big too. It took points off the board and gave them points. We gave them 14 points with the blocked punt and the turnover, and took some off the board with the fumble going in. So those obviously were costly mistakes for us.”
The second half began on a high note for the Miners as they forced a three-and-out, the Aggies punted and Locksley connected with Terry Juniel for a 76-yard touchdown pass to tie it up once again at 17.
“I thought the fight was there, and I saw some really positive body language when we tied it up at 17-17,” Dimel said. “I saw that spark that I’d like for our team to continue to develop and have throughout the games, where we can really get to that point where we’re learning how to win football games when they’re close.”
The Miners missed a chance to take their first lead when Filley’s 44-yard field goal was wide right with 4:07 left in the third quarter. A minute and a half later, the Aggies got the lead back for good.
Making his first career start, redshirt freshman Adkins completed 9-of-18 passes for 156 yards for the Aggies. Gibson rushed for 103 yards on 10 carries.
Locksley threw for 194 yards for the Miners, completing 10-of-16 passes.
UTEP piled up 429 yards of offense to NMSU’s 311 and dominated the time of possession line (40:48 to 19:12), but the Miners had three turnovers to the Aggies’ one.
Javahn Fergurson turned in a dominating performance on defense for NMSU with 17 tackles. He was one of three Aggies with double-figure stops as Leon McQuaker and Ron LaForce had 11 and 10 tackles, respectively.
Hotchkins led the Miners in tackles for the third time in four games with eight stops.
“I said every week you’ll find improvement in this football team, and tonight they [NMSU] had one of their starters back who has been out all year at the defensive end position,” Dimel said. “They’ve got a good defensive football team and we played pretty well against them offensively. We just need to finish better.”
UTEP will kick off Conference USA play at UTSA next Saturday (Sept. 29) at 5 p.m. MT. The game can be seen on ESPN+.
Gallery by Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta, Chief Photographer, El Paso Herald-Post
New Mexico State University Professor of Horticulture Christopher Cramer is one of 15 participants in a regional multistate research working group to receive the 2018 Western Region Award of Excellence in multistate research.
The multistate research covered the managing of onion pests and diseases and included the help and research of numerous universities, Cornell University, Texas A&M University and Colorado State University to name a few.
Cramer’s research aimed to identify onion germplasm that could be used to breed onions with resistance to onion thrips. Onion thrips are insects that feed on plant leaves, damaging onion bulbs and spreading disease that could take a toll on onion yield, quality and seed production.
“We evaluated some onion germplasm and selected plants that thrips did not prefer as much as other plants and as a result those plants suffered less damage from thrips,” said Cramer, professor in the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences. “We also evaluated the same germplasm for damage from a viral disease, iris yellow spot. We identified plants that exhibit fewer disease symptoms than other plants. The virus that causes this disease is spread by thrips.”
Professors from the working group meet on an annual basis to discuss the research they are doing and see how they can coordinate their efforts. Multistate research projects can help to make sure many different issues are being researched at once.
“It is helpful to have multiple research projects happening at once because there might be pest and disease issues that are important here in New Mexico that we might not have time to work on but maybe in another state they are working on it currently, whether it would benefit them to also work on it or not. So, it helps to make progress in research that can be applied in different places,” Cramer said.
By participating in multistate research projects, NMSU has been put on the map as a productive contributor to needed research.
“By being able to contribute what we’re doing to other states and seeing what other states are doing, it’s building a great partnership for future projects,” Cramer said.
In just its second year of operation, the Hunt Center for Entrepreneurship, housed at New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center, has made significant strides in strengthening the region’s entrepreneurial pipeline by focusing on the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs, developing exciting new technologies, and forging partnerships that benefit the Borderland.
“We’re so pleased with the progress made through the Hunt Center thus far and look forward to continuing the key initiatives underway, while continuing to seek avenues for expansion,” said Arrowhead Center Director Kathy Hansen.
The Hunt Center was created through a $2.5 million gift provided by the Hunt Family Foundation as part of NMSU’s Ignite Aggie Discovery $125 million comprehensive fundraising campaign.
The funding has helped advance three key programs at Arrowhead Center: the Hunt Student Startup Sponsorships, the Innoventure youth entrepreneurship program for K-12 students, and the LAUNCH technology and business development accelerator and competition.
Hunt Student Startup Sponsorships provide semester-long employment to allow selected student entrepreneurs time to work on their ventures during the academic semesters. Sponsored students receive entrepreneurial training and business development services through Studio G, Arrowhead Center’s student business accelerator program.
“Hunt Sponsorships provide a tremendous opportunity to accelerate student entrepreneurs in our Studio G program,” said Kramer Winingham, director of Studio G. “The program gives students the support and guidance to move their business forward rapidly in just one semester.”
Hunt-sponsored students have focused on a range of products and services, from gyroscope technology to retail fashion to a mobile app helping university students learn to navigate their campuses.
“Thanks to the Hunt Startup Sponsorship, I was able to turn my idea into a minimum viable product,” said Alexis Cornidez, an NMSU senior majoring in individualized studies with a concentration in engineering, economics and management. Cornidez received a sponsorship to work on his business, Maslow, a mobile application that connects college students and supports local economies. “It allowed me to focus not only my time, but my effort toward accomplishing my goals,” he added.
The Innoventure suite of K-12 entrepreneurship education programs from Arrowhead Center has also enjoyed new opportunities through Arrowhead’s relationship with the Hunt Family Foundation, for the first time delivering programming outside of New Mexico.
Camp Innoventure, a week-long camp where middle school students get to brainstorm business ideas, put together a business model and create a product to sell at a local market, partnered with the El Paso-based Success Through Technology Education Foundation to bring sessions to schools in El Paso and Tornillo, Texas.
“We had 22 students participate in three camps across El Paso, which we couldn’t have done without the generous financial support from the STTE Foundation and the Hunt Center,” said Innoventure Deputy Director Lydia Hammond, who leads the Camp Innoventure program. “We’re also extremely grateful to our amazing teachers, who led the program at each location and made these camp experiences even more special for our students.”
LAUNCH, Arrowhead Center’s annual accelerator and competition in which teams take NMSU-developed innovations through an intensive four-month program of technology and market validation, is also reaping the benefits of affiliation with the Hunt Center. With Hunt Center support, both the initial investments in participants’ ventures and the award to the overall winner have been bolstered, allowing teams to push the envelope on the new businesses based on the technologies they explore.
“The Hunt Center sponsorship of LAUNCH has been a game-changer, in terms of the amount of resources we’re able to provide promising teams,” Hansen said. “It also allows our winning team the funds they need to take the next steps after the competition.”
Three of the five finalist teams from the most recent round of LAUNCH are in talks with potential industry partners who may license team technologies or determine other ways to collaborate on development.
This year’s winning team, which is seeking to commercialize a novel liner for prosthetic limbs that increase comfort and safety for wearers, has continued to move forward on their project.
“LAUNCH helped me to break the ice, get out of the building, and talk to people,” said team member Neda Sanatkaran, a post-doctoral researcher in NMSU’s Chemical Engineering Department.
These and other Hunt Center programs are also bolstered by a partnership with the CoWork Oasis, an El Paso-based community workspace that provides local entrepreneurs access to tools, mentorship and funding opportunities. CoWork Oasis stages workshops and events to educate entrepreneurs and provide them opportunities to network with fellow creators and others in the community.
With 85 community members at CoWork, the network is growing and the program’s model is being validated. The CoWork Oasis-Hunt Center collaboration is ensuring that Arrowhead Center programs have a regional reach, as well as bringing to each organization the best assets its respective city has to offer.
“Our commitment to Arrowhead Center demonstrates the critical role we know entrepreneurship plays as an economic driver in the Borderplex region,” said Josh Hunt, president of the Hunt Family Foundation. “We are proud to see our investment hard at work to move initiatives forward in support of programs, innovation and successful partnerships. We applaud the ongoing efforts of the team at the Hunt Center for Entrepreneurship.”
Hansen notes that Arrowhead Center will continue to find new ways to expand existing programs, and to explore others that will help clients continue to advance their entrepreneurial journeys.
“We’re not done yet,” Hansen said. “One of the greatest strengths of the Hunt Center is its ability to leverage collaboration among regional players. We have so many great people and groups working on economic development in the Borderplex, and the Hunt Center is a perfect venue to collaborate on that endeavor.”
Last summer, New Mexico State University professors in the College of Arts and Sciences: Immo Hansen, associate professor in biology and principle investigator of NMSU’s Hansen Lab, and Mary Alice Scott, associate professor of anthropology, released a survey seeking homemade mosquito repellent methods and strategies.
The goal was to discover cheaper and more easily available repellents beyond commercial products to test them in a future study against traditional repellents such as DEET.
The survey was available in English, Spanish and Portuguese and was distributed in countries in which residents were likely to speak one these languages. In addition to open-ended questions about repellents, there was a multiple-choice question listing 13 repellent control methods.
As a precursor to this research, Scott previously observed residents of Veracruz, Mexico, using three different methods to repel mosquitoes.
“These were burning mosquito coils that were commercially produced, though I did not learn what the ingredients of these coils were, sprinkling small amounts of gasoline around the perimeter of an area to be protected from mosquitoes, although this was probably the least common method, and burning bundles of dried herbs, which I believe was to produce smoke to keep mosquitoes away since different herbs were used at different times,” she said. “I did not test the effectiveness of any of these techniques, so I can’t say how effective they are.”
“From the responses, we compiled a table of more than 200 techniques people use, from stuff they eat or drink – such as garlic or gin and tonics – to burning various herbs, plants, and even animal dung, to stuff they rub on their skin – again, like garlic – to spatial repellents,” said Hansen.
“For me the most surprising answer was the use of dryer sheets,” said Scott. “I had not heard of dryer sheets being used before, although some other members of our research team were familiar with that method.”
As an anthropologist, Scott’s expertise is in qualitative research.
“My role on this project was to develop the qualitative components of the survey used to collect the data that were analyzed for this project,” Scott said.
The majority of respondents to the survey resided in the United States, 67 percent of whom were female, 81 percent of whom had a university degree, and 50 percent of whom were 18 to 37 years old.
“The most commonly used repellent was DEET spray, which made up 48 percent of the responses,” Hansen said. “This also corresponds
with our research that says DEET spray is the most effective repellent.”
The DEET spray particles adhere to mosquitoes’ odor receptors, which prevent them from locating a human with DEET particles around him. From Hansen’s research, mosquitoes have not developed any kind of resistance to DEET, as they have to large-scale insecticides used by public-health agencies to control populations.
Interestingly, the second most-used method of repelling mosquitoes involved citronella candles, which made up 43 percent of the survey’s responses. Citronella is an essential oil obtained from lemongrass.
Based on their previous research, Hansen says citronella has no effect as a repellent.
“We tested citronella-based repellents in two different assays,” Hansen said, referring to a clear enclosure used to observe behavior and actions within. “We used a Y-tube assay, where we inserted the mosquitoes at the bottom, then put a hand with citronella repellent on it at one end and a hand with no repellent at the other. If citronella were an effective repellent, the mosquito would fly to the hand with no repellent but that’s not what happened.”
The second assay experiment his lab conducted involved a wind tunnel in which a fan blew around someone with citronella-based repellent on, blowing his scent in the direction of the mosquitoes, and this also failed to prevent the mosquitoes from going near the human.
“To be clear, we only ran these experiments on Yellow Fever mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti, which are the ones we’re most concerned with here in southern New Mexico,” Hansen said. “They’re the carriers of viral diseases like Chikungunya, Dengue fever and Zika. There’s nothing to say that citronella isn’t an effective repellent for other types of mosquitoes, such as albopictus, rusticus, or any of the other species.”
Hansen described citronella as having a placebo effect, which, coupled with the oil’s pleasant aroma, could explain why it’s used so much as a mosquito repellent even when it doesn’t work.
“With these responses, we want to start testing some of the methods, like various types of smoke that some people used as a repellent, as well as some of the topically applied methods,” Hansen said.
Hansen and Scott’s study lays the foundation for future research in alternative methods to repel mosquitoes that may be culturally acceptable and more affordable for people.
After approximately 10,000 work hours, New Mexico State University’s Aggies Without Limits student organization – with a bit of help from UTEP students – built a suspended pedestrian bridge in Utuado, Puerto Rico, this summer.
Aggies Without Limits, a student nonprofit organization in the College of Engineering founded in 2007, chooses a local project and international project each year. The group’s mission is to help developing communities with sustainable engineering projects.
While Aggies Without Limits have constructed projects in international locations such as Nicaragua, Bolivia and Mexico, the group selected Puerto Rico, a United States territory, this year after the island was devasted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in fall 2017, according to Kenny Stevens, Engineering Technology professor and Aggies Without Limits co-adviser.
The project ran from May 14 to June 12 with 55 volunteers including 39 NMSU students and alumni and 16 University of Texas-El Paso students and faculty with the Engineers for a Sustainable World organization.
The bridge reached 237 feet and cost around $40,000 in materials.
Stevens also mentioned Sonya Cooper, associate dean in the College of Engineering and Aggies Without Limits co-adviser, “is the MacGyver of the organization. She can take a waste piece of metal and turn it into the one bolt that we need to finish the bridge.”
This year’s collaboration with UTEP was a first for the group. Stevens credited Ivonne Santiago, UTEP Civil Engineering clinical professor, Puerto Rico native and a professional engineer licensed in the territory, with making connections with the community organizer and mayor from Utuado.
“With her help we were able to find a project and bring in a whole new dynamic to our group,” he said.
NMSU mechanical engineering senior David Castellanos said he enjoyed helping others and personally learned a great deal as project manager.
“It was a beautiful experience,” he said. “It’s crazy how a project like this brings people together.”
While the Aggies Without Limits began as an engineering organization about half of the group’s members are from other disciplines. Communication disorders senior and Aggies Without Limits president Molly Williams joined to volunteer for international service.
“You don’t have to be an engineering student to move rocks or to help pour concrete or help build a form,” she said. “If you have a basic understanding you can help.”
Retired Las Cruces businessman and engineer, Orlando Cervantes, recently gifted the New Mexico State University Foundation $50,000 to create the Orlando Cervantes Endowed Scholarship.
The scholarship is special in that it specifically bridges the El Paso and Las Cruces communities by awarding graduates of El Paso High School with scholarship dollars to complete a degree in engineering from NMSU.
Cervantes proudly explained his idea behind the scholarship, “I’m an Aggie,” he said. “And, I’m a Tiger.”
A native El Pasoan and graduate of El Paso High School, Cervantes’ life is a culmination of opportunity, perseverance and hard work. In high school, he served as captain of the EPHS football, basketball and baseball teams, lettered in both football and baseball and was inducted into the EPHS Hall of Fame.
He earned a football scholarship to play at NMSU and after his freshman year, Cervantes voluntarily joined the military. He was stationed in Korea for two years where he honed his passion for engineering by working on building and engineering projects for the army.
Following his service, Cervantes returned to El Paso, completing his degree in engineering from NMSU in 1960.
Opportunity immediately came knocking, and after a one-year appointment with Robert McKee General Contractors in El Paso, Cervantes moved to the West Coast where he was able to build his engineering portfolio alongside some of the area’s top engineers.
Nine years later, Cervantes returned to Las Cruces to his wife’s family farm where he would face new career challenges, “I didn’t have a lot of experience in farming,” he said, “So I started looking for things to do.”
Using knowledge and skills from his background in engineering, Cervantes worked with companies in Louisiana to introduce a new Tabasco crop ¬- and processing method – to Mesilla Valley. His initial talks were met with speculation about the probability of success in the desert. “They thought I was nuts,” Cervantes said. “Especially because it was a new crop and process foreign to the area.”
His perseverance and unique innovation in crop production and chile processing – along with a little luck, “I just happened to pick the right crop,” he added – resulted in the growth of the farm from 10 acres to several thousand, which now produces millions of pounds of mash distributed worldwide.
Notwithstanding the farm’s success, Cervantes maintained a second career as a plan-review engineer. He has served on the boards of a variety of civic and community organizations and has played instrumental roles in numerous projects across southern New Mexico, including the development of the Planning and Inspection Departments for Doña Ana County and the city of Sunland Park, the creation of the performance zoning ordinance for Doña Ana County and the construction planning and design of NMSU’s Zuhl Library.
Cervantes hopes his scholarship opens doors for new generations of fellow Tigers and Aggies. He wants them to understand that it will take a lot of hard work to achieve their goals. “Each student will have a different situation and story when they come to study at NMSU,” Cervantes said. “To be successful, however, you have to be the first one in the morning to open the office and the last person to close the office at night. You have to remember that a degree is not a pass to success. You have to make the effort.”
Looking back, Cervantes admits that of all his accomplishments, he is most proud of his three children, Joseph, Dino and Tina – who now run the family farm – and his six granddaughters. With regard to his career, Cervantes remains humble about his successes. “You can find examples of achievements much greater than mine,” he said. “But, I’m happy with what I’ve done.”
An associate professor of English at New Mexico State University recently published his fourth book telling the true story of Shawn Harrington, a former Aggie basketball star who was shot and paralyzed in Chicago in 2014.
Rus Bradburd started work on “All the Dreams We’ve Dreamed: A Story of Hoops and Handguns on Chicago’s West Side’ in 2015.
“Shawn was working as a high-school basketball coach in Chicago at the time,” Bradburd said. “He was driving his daughter to school in a rental car. It was a case of mistaken identity, these guys ran up to his car and opened fire on him and he dove on top of his daughter and saved her life but he took a bullet in the back.”
Bradburd, who coached basketball at the University of Texas-El Paso and at NMSU for a combined 14 years and who coached Harrington during his 1995-1996 season with the Aggies, had lost touch with Harrington by the time of the shooting.
“To me it was such a remarkable act of heroism and it drove me crazy that this guy wasn’t being treated like a hero,” Bradburd said.
Shortly after the shooting, when Bradburd learned about the shooting, he started advocating for Harrington by contacting media in and around Chicago.
“Finally a writer I’d been irritating said to me, “Why don’t you write something about Shawn yourself?” Bradburd said.
So he started work on ‘All the Dreams We’ve Dreamed.’
“As a player Shawn did everything a coach would want him to do,” Bradburd said. “He graduated from college, he was a good parent, he went back to his high school to try to make a difference by teaching. The more he got ignored, the more obsessed I got with the story.”
The biggest challenge Bradburd faced in writing the story was approaching the inherent emotionality of the story. Bradburd also expanded the story beyond Harrington and included stories of other people, mothers whose children had been shot.
“I think a lot of people know these shootings and murders go on but we tune them out,” Bradburd said. “I hope by telling this particular story and the story of Marshall High School, which since Shawn was shot has had seven people shot over three years, it brings a focus and
empathy to what these people are going through and what life is like on a daily basis on Chicago’s west side.”
Bradburd retired from coaching basketball in 2000, working at the time for the famed Lou Henson, and enrolled in NMSU’s creative writing MFA program. Currently he teaches fiction at NMSU. Two of Bradburd’s previous books are nonfiction and the third is fiction. He is currently at work on a satirical novel.
“What fascinates me about writing and reading is the same thing that fascinates me about basketball,” Bradburd said. “It’s the stories behind the game, the personalities, the interactions. I was always more interested in the stories behind the games rather than the statistical or analytical parts.”
According to the 2018/19 Center for World University Rankings, New Mexico State University has been ranked in the top 4.3 percent of institutions of higher education worldwide.
With 18,000 degree-granting institutions of higher education worldwide evaluated, NMSU ranked 770th and earned a national rank of 184th this year.
The Center for World University Rankings distributes the only global university performance tables that gauge both the quality of education and training of students along with prestige of faculty members and the quality of their research without the use of surveys and university data submissions.
Seven factors are used to base the Center for World University Rankings, including quality of education (15 percent), measured by the number of a university’s alumni who have won major international awards, prizes and medals relative to the university’s size.
Other factors include alumni employment (15 percent), measured by the number of a university’s alumni who have held CEO positions at the world’s top companies relative to the university’s size; quality of faculty (15 percent), measured by the number of academics who have won major international awards, prizes and medals; research output (15 percent), measured by the total number of research papers; quality publications (15 percent), measured by the number of research papers appearing in top-tier journals; influence (15 percent), measured by the number of research papers appearing in highly influential journals; and citations (10 percent), measured by the number of highly cited research papers.
An assistant professor of anthropology and her students at New Mexico State University are conducting archaeological research on El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, a Spanish-Colonial period trade route extending from Mexico City to Santa Fe.
Kelly Jenks, her research assistant Shannon Cowell, and students enrolled in her Cultural Resource Management classes are doing the work as part of a cooperative grant with the New Mexico Bureau of Land Management.
“We got the grant in the fall of 2015 and did our first field research in 2016,” Jenks said.
Last spring, Jenks and her students worked at the site of Paraje San Diego, a popular campsite along the Camino located south of Hatch. Students mapped the locations of all artifacts and features and brought the artifacts back to NMSU for further study.
Cowell was a student in that class and studied the pottery fragments recovered from the site. She found that they came from four distinct areas, each of which was probably a campsite. By looking at the different types of pottery in each cluster, she was able to figure out when each campsite was used and where the travelers were coming from.
“We can learn a lot by looking at where artifacts are found,” Jenks said. “That’s why it’s so important for people not to pick them up.”
This spring, the class traveled north to record La Parida, a 19th-century Hispanic village site located along the Camino just north of Socorro. The village was described by soldiers who marched through it during the Mexican-American War, but most of the residents left after severe floods in the 1850s and the houses eventually melted away.
“All of the structures were adobe and when we went there, you couldn’t even see the outlines of the walls anymore,” Cowell said.
The students relocated the old homesteads by finding scatters of artifacts and faint traces of adobe walls.
“We also used historic documents and photographs to help us figure out where things should be,” said Jenks. “We’re putting together a map of the village now, and trying to learn more about each household by looking at the kinds of artifacts we recorded nearby. At the end of the project, we’ll turn in a report to the BLM so that they can share the information with the public.”
Jenks’ team consists of herself, a research assistant, and students in her CRM classes (nine this semester) who receive academic credit for their work in the field. The students, mostly graduate students in anthropology and history, get ‘real world experience’ working on public land.
“It helps our students get the experience they need to get jobs,” said Jenks. “And the federal agencies really value the expertise we have to offer. It’s a win-win!”
The New Mexico State University Fire Department has upgraded its rating by the Insurance Services Office from a 3/3X to a 2/2X rating, which is among the top 3 percent in the country.
“The ISO is really the report card for a fire department,” said NMSU Fire Chief Johnny Carrillo. “It rates our response capabilities, our water distribution system and also emergency communication systems.”
The classification by ISO, known as the Public Protection Classification program, assesses the fire-protection efforts in a particular community. ISO collects information on municipal fire-protection efforts in communities throughout the United States. In each of those communities, ISO analyzes the department’s ability to suppress fires.
The program provides a nationally- accepted standard, which means residential, commercial and industrial properties may qualify for lower insurance rates.
NMSU’s rating went from a 5/9 to a 3/3X in 2014 the year after Carrillo was named chief of the unit. This is the second upgrade for NMSU’s Fire Department in four years.
“We’ve made huge progress in our response capability,” Carrillo said. “We went from a five-minute response time to a four-minute response time. We made upgrades to our fire prevention programs. We’ve also improved our building inspections. We inspected more than 300 buildings on campus within a two-year period.”
The NMSU Fire Department began in 1921 as a group of volunteers who worked for the university’s Physical Plant. Today the department has 20 firefighters; it is one of the few departments in the nation with student firefighters.
Currently, NMSU has 14 student firefighters that work shifts from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. with two full-time firefighters that cover the day shift while students attend classes. NMSU has both a truck company and an engine company.
Because of NMSU’s training, the student firefighters meet the national standards, which would allow them to work for any department across the county.
New Mexico State University has been ranked in the top 20 as one of the most affordable online universities according to College Choice.
With 50 universities nationwide being recognized, NMSU ranked 19th and is the only university in the Southwest to be recognized in the top 20.
“We’re always excited when the rest of the nation learns about what we know, that NMSU has a great education at an affordable price. That’s one of our key strengths,’ said Greg Fant, NMSUs deputy provost. “It shows that NMSUs recent efforts collaborating with the NMSU Alamogordo Community College to better align 100 percent 2+2 bachelor’s degrees are paying off.”
College Choice is a national voice on university rankings and resources. They used their own proprietary methodology based on combined stats from reliable national databases with metadata aggregation from a wide array of other university ranking and review sites. College Choice does not accept payment to bump up a university or change a ranking.
College Choice looked at the average net price for schools along with program features and attention-grabbing features.
NMSU’s average net price was listed at $10,213. College Choice discussed the university’s 2+2 online bachelor’s degree, along with master’s and doctorate programs as well as several graduate certificate programs.
NMSU offers over 35 programs such as online bachelor’s degrees in Sociology, Business Administration, Criminal Justice; online master’s degrees in Education Administration and Agriculture and Extension Education as well as several graduate certificate and K-12 educator licensure and endorsement programs.
Susie Bussmann, director of Distance Education, said when people are planning to go to school cost factors a lot into what school they are choosing.
“When people are searching for an online degree one of the things they consider is affordability. They want to get the most value for their dollar,” Bussmann said.
On Monday the New Mexico State University Board of Regents met in special session to announce the names of five finalists for the NMSU chancellor search.
“I think we should all take great pride in the caliber of candidates who applied to be our university’s next chancellor,” said NMSU Regent Chair Debra Hicks. “It speaks to the great work done each day at NMSU that we attracted this talented group of individuals. The Chancellor Search Committee has performed excellent work representing the broad array of stakeholders. I want to personally thank Mike Cheney as chair of the Search Committee for his time and dedication.”
By statute, the Board of Regents must select a minimum of five finalists for consideration in the final selection process. The five final candidates will visit the main campus and meet with numerous university stakeholders between April 22 and May 4, including the NMSU Foundation Board, NMSU Alumni Board, Aggie Athletics and other key stakeholders.
The NMSU Board of Regents anticipate making their final decision by May 11.
The finalists are:
Arvizu presently serves as senior adviser to the Emerson Elemental practice of Emerson Collective. In 2015, he retired as director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Damron is cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Higher Education Department and is the State Higher Education executive officer for New Mexico, with oversight of the state’s public institutions of higher education.
John D. Floros
Floros is dean of the College of Agriculture and director of K-State Research and Extension at Kansas State University. He has led the development of the college’s strategic plan, guided the college to record student enrollments, retention and graduation.
Robert J. Marley
Marley currently serves as the provost and executive vice chancellor at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. He is a professor of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering.
Brian J. R. Stevenson
Stevenson is the former president of Lakehead University in Ontario, Canada. While in that role, he led the university through an intense period of growth, internationalization and a greatly enhanced national and global profile.
“I also want to comment on the Search Committee’s enthusiasm for the candidates to lead NMSU,” Hicks said. “They were impressed with the professionalism in the process itself under the direction of Wheless Partners, including Michael Wheless, Michael Ballew, Scott Watson and Dr. Robert Witt, chancellor emeritus. Witt is the retired chancellor at the University of Alabama and UT-Arlington. His expertise in personally recruiting and vetting candidates against our unique needs made a significant difference in the quality of our finalists. Under his leadership, Alabama grew enrollment 65 percent, advanced academically, as well as in their athletics programs.”
Hicks continued, “All of the finalists are highly accomplished with proven track records of successful outcomes that were of most interest to the Search Committee and the Board. We were impressed with their diversity and varied backgrounds from both inside and outside academia.”
Additional information on the finalists will be available on the chancellor search website. Full interview schedules for each of the finalists will be placed on the site shortly thereafter.