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NMSU CONVOCATION AWARDS

NMSU kicks off year with convocation awards for faculty, staff

Posted

For the first time since 2019, New Mexico State University hosted an in-person convocation to kick off a new academic year.

More than 120 faculty and staff members from NMSU gathered on the Las Cruces campus Aug. 17 to mark the start of the fall 2021 semester and celebrate a group of fellow Aggies honored for their accomplishments and contributions to the university. The ceremony also was streamed online for those unable to join in person.

 “Convocation is an important occasion when we pause to set the course for the start of the academic year,” NMSU Provost Carol Parker said. “This fall, I am especially proud to focus our attention on faculty who are exemplars in terms of teaching as well as community engagement, extension and outreach.”

The ceremony marked the start of a new initiative to align faculty awards with each of the four strategic goals in NMSU LEADS 2025 – a change Parker announced in January.

 Parker, who presided over the ceremony with Tara Gray, associate provost for faculty development, director of the NMSU Teaching Academy and convocation coordinator, also introduced a new award to honor outstanding work in extension, outreach and community engagement.

 The cohort of award recipients included a half-dozen faculty members and a campuswide organization.

 NMSU’s most distinguished teaching honor – the Robert L. Westhafer Award – went to Mary Ballyk, professor of mathematical sciences, for excellence in teaching. The award recognizes work that enhances student success and social mobility – the first goal in NMSU LEADS 2025. Ballyk has taught at NMSU since 2000.

Aggies Without Limits, which brings together students, faculty and community members to assist with the development of local and international communities through sustainable infrastructure and educational opportunities, received the first-ever Extension, Outreach and Community Engagement Award. The new honor recognizes work that amplifies extension and outreach – the third goal in NMSU LEADS 2025.

 Since its founding in the mid-2000s, Aggies Without Limits (AWL) has performed annual service projects in several Latin American countries and New Mexico, building infrastructure to better the lives of those in need. This summer, members of the group traveled to Nicaragua to complete a project they were unable to finish last year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

AWL adviser and emeritus professor of engineering technology Kenny Stevens was recognized during the ceremony. He co-founded the organization with former NMSU student Dorothy Lanphere.

Recipients of Donald C. Roush awards were: Martha Desmond, regents professor of fishery and wildlife sciences; Avis James, college associate professor of biology; and Anne Semrau, assistant professor of biology at NMSU Grants.

NMSU bestows the Roush awards – named after a former NMSU executive vice president in recognition of his efforts to improve teaching in New Mexico – based on information from students, department heads, deans and community campus directors.

Recipients of the Christmore awards were: David Clements, assistant professor of finance; and Steven Sandoval, assistant professor of electrical engineering.

The Christmore awards, named after former accounting department head Patricia Christmore, honor junior tenure-track faculty members for excellence in teaching. The Associated Students of NMSU oversee the selection process.

All award winners received a plaque and a stipend.