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Our Heritage

Historic Photo of Hadley Hall, pre-demolition

A Brief History

New Mexico was still a territory when Las Cruces College opened the doors of its two-room building in the fall of 1888. The organizers of Las Cruces College—led by Hiram Hadley, a respected educator from Indiana—had even bigger plans in mind.

In 1889, the New Mexico territorial legislature authorized the creation of an agricultural college and experiment station in or near Las Cruces. The institution, which was designated as the land-grant college for New Mexico under the Morrill Act, was named the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts.

Las Cruces College merged with N.M.A. & M.A., and the new school opened on January 21, 1890. That first semester there were 35 students in the college level and preparatory classes and six faculty members. Classes met in the old two-room building of Las Cruces College until suitable buildings could be put on the 220-acre campus three miles south of Las Cruces.

By 1960, the school had grown greatly, and its name was changed by state constitutional amendment to New Mexico State University.

Today New Mexico State University sits on a 900-acre campus and enrolls 16,428 students from all 50 states and from 71 nations. Regular faculty members number 694 and staff, 3,113.

Architectural Origins

In 1907, the headline in the Las Cruces newspaper announced “New College to be Work of Art.”

Pioneer southwestern architect Henry C. Trost had been commissioned to design a plan for the fledgling New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, founded only 19 years earlier.

The plan for what was to become New Mexico State University included a horseshoe drive and 13 buildings that were to form the school’s centerpiece.

“With six buildings at each side in the form of a horseshoe and the administration building in the center, the College will present an appearance of unity and harmony rarely found in like institutions,” the article read.

The story of NMSU’s architectural origins is described most fully in the authoritative work on Trost, “Henry C. Trost, Architect of the Southwest,” by Lloyd C. and June-Marie F. Engelbrecht, available in the university’s library.

The campus would have an east-west orientation and be open-ended in the west at its entrance. The buildings were to be executed in what Trost called Spanish Renaissance architectural style, with hipped tile roofs and domed towers. Arches would connect the buildings to form a complex resembling some of the historic California missions.

The one exception was the university president’s home, now the Nason House, on University Avenue. That building shows the influence of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie Style, to which Trost was exposed during his years in Chicago and the Midwest.

Although Trost’s general layout for the university was followed for almost 30 years, it was never carried out in its entirety. Of the seven Trost buildings completed, only five remain. Four have been renovated.

University architect Martin Hoffmeister said the remaining Trost buildings are campus treasures because they are such interesting and original designs. While the NMSU campus has strayed from Trost’s original campus design, most of its buildings retain the Southwestern flavor, he said. The horseshoe continues to be the campus center, as Trost intended.

“There is much variety on this campus,” Hoffmeister said. “Today we are following Southwest designs and moving away from brutal modernistic styles.”

Henry C. Trost Buildings
on the NMSU Campus

Historical photo of Wilson Hall

Wilson Hall, photo from the 1924 NMSU yearbook.

Wilson Hall

The first Trost building on campus was completed in 1909 and used for the study of agriculture. It contained numerous laboratories and classrooms, as well as the offices of the different Agricultural department, irrigation experimentation, and the Agricultural Experiment Station. It was leveled after a destructive fire in 1937.

William Conroy Honors Center at sunset

William Conroy Honors Center

William Conroy Honors Center

The second oldest building on campus is the, William Conroy Honors Center which is at the base of the horseshoe. Known as the YMCA building, today the building houses NMSU’s Honors Program. It is the oldest public structure designed by Trost still standing in New Mexico. The YMCA was brimming with activity soon after its completion as a men’s dormitory in early 1909. It now stands vacant on the northwestern edge of the Horseshoe. The YMCA was one of only three student-owned university buildings west of the Mississippi River when it was built. It was furnished with gifts from donors throughout the then-Territory of New Mexico. Built primarily to provide dormitory facilities for male students, in the 1920s it was a boarding house and a favorite place for many of the faculty members to eat.

The YMCA was converted to space for the music department in 1929 and was purchased by the university in 1964. The following year it became headquarters for the U.S. Air Force ROTC program, which remained there until the program was moved to the renovated Young Hall in 1982.

Historic photo of Hadley Hall

Old Hadley Hall, Photo from Heritage Advisory Council

Old Hadley Hall

The iron-domed administration building and library also opened in early 1909 as the centerpiece of the Trost plan. It was designed to stand out, much like a church in a mission complex. It had a large dome, suggesting a building of importance, 34 feet in diameter. Old Hadley, which stood at the top of the arc of the horseshoe, was demolished in 1957. Some say the building was deteriorating and could not be rehabilitated. Others believe it marked the end of an architectural era at NMSU. The current administration building was built just west of the old building in 1953.

Southside of the Music Center

The Music Center

The Music Center

The old armory, which served as a gymnasium from 1911 to 1938, became part of the Music Center in 1983. The older building has a circular running track now used to house practice rooms 12 feet above the original gym floor. Faculty offices occupy the first floor.

Tower view of Goddard Hall

Goddard Hall

Goddard Hall

The engineering building with its distinctive bell tower and Spanish Renaissance style was completed in 1913. An annex was added under the auspices of the WPA in 1936-37. The annex was designed and supervised by college faculty and built with student labor.

The building was dedicated in 1934 to the late dean of engineering, Ralph Willis Goddard. Born in Waltham, Mass., in 1887, Goddard was hired by the college as an electrical engineering professor in 1914 and became dean of engineering in 1920. He was a pioneer in radio engineering and his experiments received national attention. He also trained enlisted men to become proficient in sending and receiving wireless messages during World War I.

Goddard died on Dec. 31, 1929, from electrocution inside the transmitter room of radio station KOB on the NMSU campus. Funding for the renovation of Goddard Hall, which was the symbol for NMSU’s Centennial celebration, is under way. Two sections of the building will be remodeled.

The WPA section rehabilitation project, partially funded by the National Science Foundation, will house research support services. The historic Trost section will house registration and student services offices.

Trees in front of the Nason House

The Nason House

The Nason House

The original residence for the college president and family was built on University Avenue in 1918. Today the Nason House is home to the Center for Latin American Studies.

Cannon outside the front of Young Hall

Young Hall

Young Hall

Originally the university library, Young Hall was completed in 1928. The building was occupied in 1958 by the English department. In 1982 it was renovated for the military science and aerospace studies department. The hall is named for Regent R.L. Young. The building’s renovation maintained its exterior shells with a new building inside. Today it is home to the school’s ROTC programs.

Presidents of NMSU


Hiram Hadley, 1888 - 1894

Students dine together at Corbett Center Crossroads

Hiram Hadley was instrumental in founding Las Cruces College in 1888. When the New Mexico territorial legislature established the Agricultural College and Experiment Station in Las Cruces, in 1889, he was named president, and oversaw the opening of New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts.

Samuel P. McCrea, 1894 – 1896

Students dine together at Corbett Center Crossroads

A graduate of Indiana Normal School, President McCrea was a Las Cruces College faculty member before being named to replace President Hadley.

Cornelius T. Jordan, 1896 – 1899

Students dine together at Corbett Center Crossroads

President Jordan was an experienced public school teacher and superintendent in Virginia before moving to New Mexico. He was awarded an A.M. degree by Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia.

Frederic W. Sanders, 1899 – 1901

Students dine together at Corbett Center Crossroads

President Frederic W. Sanders earned his doctorate at the University of Chicago after completing his A.M. degree at Harvard and his A.B. at the College of the City of New York. He implemented the first student government organization at the growing college in 1900.

Luther Foster, 1901 – 1908

Students dine together at Corbett Center Crossroads

Luther Foster held impressive credentials when he arrived in Las Cruces. He had organized the Montana Agricultural college and had served as its president. He also directed experiment stations for agricultural colleges in Utah and Wyoming. Foster held both B.S. and M.S. degrees from Iowa State Agricultural College.

Winfred E. Garrison, 1908 – 1913

Students dine together at Corbett Center Crossroads

Winfred E. Garrison earned his A.B. degree at Yale and his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. He came to Las Cruces after serving as President of New Mexico Normal University in Las Vegas. In 1910, Garrison was elected as a delegate to the State Constitutional Convention in Santa Fe.

George E. Ladd, 1913 – 1917

Students dine together at Corbett Center Crossroads

George E. Ladd came to Las Cruces after serving as President of the School of Mines in Wilburton, Oklahoma. He had earned his A.B., A.M., and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University. Ladd was, perhaps, the first president to be concerned with student recruitment and retention. He tried to determine why many New Mexico high school graduates sought higher education outside the state.

Austin D. Crile, 1917 – 1920

Students dine together at Corbett Center Crossroads

Austin D. Crile was a farmer and a rancher in Roswell, New Mexico. He held an LL.D. from Tusculum College in Greensville, Tennessee and had served as a chaplain at New Mexico Military Institute. During his tenure, the organizational pattern of the college evolved to include all departments within the schools of Agriculture, Engineering, and General Science.

Robert W. Clothier, 1920 – 1921

Students dine together at Corbett Center Crossroads

Formerly with Mississippi Agricultural College, Robert W. Clothier was an experienced agriculturist, with B.S. and M.S. degrees from Kansas State Agricultural College and a Ph.D. from George Washington University. Problems he faced during his brief tenure included a deficit, faculty resignations, and an economically motivated move to consolidate state educational institutions.

Harry L. Kent, 1921 – 1936

Students dine together at Corbett Center Crossroads

Harry L. Kent assumed the college presidency after serving with Kansas State Agricultural College’s Extension Service. He held an M.S. degree from that institute and an A.B. degree from Kansas State Normal School. His tenure saw a growing agricultural emphasis, the Great Depression, and political turmoil.

Ray Fife, 1936 - 1938

Students dine together at Corbett Center Crossroads

State Director of Agricultural Education in Ohio, Ray Fife held B.S. degrees from both Ohio Northern University and Ohio State. His Ph.D. was from Columbia University. Growing enrollments pressed the college’s physical plant to capacity during his tenure. Fife left New Mexico State University to accept a professorship at Ohio State University.

Hugh M. Milton II, 1938 - 1947

Students dine together at Corbett Center Crossroads

Hugh M. Milton II joined the college faculty in 1924 as a Professor of Mechanical Engineering. He held bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Kentucky. Milton was appointed Dean of Engineering in 1926 and became president in 1938. He was recalled to active military duty in 1941 at the rank of colonel, and was promoted to brigadier general in 1945. Milton returned to conclude his tenure as president in 1947. He later headed New Mexico Military Institute and served as Assistant Secretary and Under Secretary of the U.S. Army.

John R. Nichols, 1947 - 1949

Students dine together at Corbett Center Crossroads

Prior to 1947, John Nichols was President of Idaho State College and had served as Educational Advisor to the United States Military Government in Japan. He held a B.S. degree from Oregon State College and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Stanford University.

John W. Branson, 1949 - 1955

Students dine together at Corbett Center Crossroads

John W. Branson brought considerable experience to the President’s Office. He came to New Mexico A & M College in 1927 as head of the Mathematics Department and was appointed Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 1941. His Ph.D. was from the University of Chicago. Branson retired from the presidency in 1955.

Roger B. Corbett, 1955 – 1970

Students dine together at Corbett Center Crossroads

Roger B. Corbett was the Agricultural Advisor for the National Association of Food Chains when he accepted the Presidency of New Mexico A&M College. His B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees were earned at Cornell University. Previous academic positions included Dean of the College of Agriculture at the University of Connecticut and Director of the University of Maryland’s Agricultural Experiment Station. During his tenure, New Mexico A&M formally became New Mexico State University, both physical and academic growth accelerated; the graduate school was organized, and the first doctoral programs were initiated.

Gerald W. Thomas, 1970 – 1984

Students dine together at Corbett Center Crossroads

Gerald W. Thomas was Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Texas Tech University prior to his appointment to President of NMSU. Physical and academic growth of the University continued under Thomas. In 1970 the main campus enrollment was 8,155 students, but by his retirement, enrollment had grown to more than 12,500 students. An additional 3,000 students were enrolled at NMSU’s four branch campuses. Sixty-eight percent of all the graduates from 1888 to 1984 earned degrees during his tenure. Thomas retired in 1984 and has held a variety of consultancies in the areas of food production and range conservation.

James E. Halligan, 1984 - 1994

Students dine together at Corbett Center Crossroads

When appointed as NMSU’s 17th president, James E. Halligan held the posts of Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Interim Chancellor at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville. A native of Iowa, he earned his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Chemical Engineering at Iowa State University. His years as president are remembered for rapid growth in student enrollment and in research and development. Halligan resigned from NMSU in July of 1994, to assume the Presidency of Oklahoma State University.

J. Michael Orenduff, 1995 – 1997

Students dine together at Corbett Center Crossroads

Before returning to his native Southwest in July 1995 to become president of NMSU, J. Michael Orenduff was chancellor of the seven-campus University of Maine System for two years. He previously had been president of the University of Maine at Farmington, 1988-93, and interim president of the American University in Bulgaria during 1992-93. Orenduff earned his doctorate in philosophy at Tulane University.

William B. Conroy, 1994 - 1995, 1997 -2000

Students dine together at Corbett Center Crossroads

William B. Conroy was named Executive Vice President in 1985. Dr. Conroy was appointed Interim President in July 1994 and served until July 1995, when he returned to the position of Executive Vice President. In June 1997, Dr. Conroy was appointed President of New Mexico State University. He served until June 30, 2000. Dr. Conroy has an extensive background in liberal arts and education. He received a B.A. in History from the University of Notre Dame and obtained his M.A. in Education and his Ph.D. in Social Science from Syracuse University. Dr. Conroy held teaching positions at the University of Texas and at the University of Washington before joining the faculty at Texas Tech University, where he served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

G. Jay Gogue, 2000-2003

Students dine together at Corbett Center Crossroads

Dr. Jay Gogue became New Mexico State University’s 20th president on July 1, 2000. He came to New Mexico’s land-grant university from Utah State University, where he had been provost since 1995, responsible for all of the university’s academic and nonacademic units on the main campus and at branch locations. Gogue was vice president for research at Clemson University in South Carolina from 1988 to 1995, and also served as vice president and vice provost for agriculture and natural resources at Clemson. A native of Waycross, Ga., he received a doctorate in horticulture from Michigan State University in 1973 and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in horticulture from Auburn University in 1969 and 1970.

William V. Flores, Aug. 2003 - June 2004

Students dine together at Corbett Center Crossroads

Dr. William V. Flores joined New Mexico State University in August 2001 as provost and chief academic officer. As such he was responsible for providing day-to-day leadership to the entire university and its community college campuses. He was appointed by the Board of Regents to serve as interim president in July 2003 and served as both interim president and provost. Before coming to New Mexico State University, he taught at California State University in Fresno and in Hayward, Santa Clara University, and Stanford University where he also served as associate director of the Inter-University Program for Latino Research. He came to NMSU from Cal State Northridge where he served as dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Flores attended the University of California in Los Angeles where he graduated with a bachelor’s in political science in 1970. He received his master’s in political science from Stanford University in 1971 and his Ph.D. in 1987 also from Stanford University in social theory and public policy, with a focus on organizational behavior and health care policy.

Michael V. Martin, 2004 - 2008

Students dine together at Corbett Center Crossroads

Dr. Michael V. Martin became president of New Mexico State University on July 1, 2004. An academic leader dedicated to the land-grant mission of teaching, research and extension service, Martin was named the recipient of the Justin Smith Morrill Memorial Award in 2007. This national award, named after the author of the bill creating land-grant universities, honors and recognizes outstanding service on behalf of the land-grant mission. Martin was only the sixth person to receive this award since it was first given in 1980. Before coming to NMSU, he served for six years as vice president for agriculture and natural resources at the University of Florida, leading the university’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences with more than 3,000 employees statewide. He was elevated to senior vice president of the University of Florida shortly before being selected as NMSU’s president. Previously, he was vice president for agricultural policy and the dean of the college of agricultural, food and environmental sciences at the University of Minnesota. He began his academic career at Oregon State University as a faculty member in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. A native of Crosby, Minn., Martin completed a bachelor’s degree in business and economics and a master’s degree in economics at Mankato State College (Minnesota State University) in Minnesota. He received his Ph.D. in applied economics from the University of Minnesota in 1977.

Waded Cruzado, Aug 2008 – May 2009

Students dine together at Corbett Center Crossroads

Dr. Waded Cruzado was appointed interim president at New Mexico State University in August 2008. She was appointed as executive vice president and provost in 2007 and, previously, she served a four-year term as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, providing oversight and leadership to the largest academic unit at NMSU. As executive vice president and provost, Cruzado provided leadership for the accreditation visit by the Higher Learning Commission in 2008, which resulted in the institution receiving full accreditation for a 10-year term. During her tenure as Dean at NMSU, the College of Arts and Sciences obtained a $4.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation for the establishment of the Center for Excellence in Bioinformatics and received the first two endowed chairs in its history. Prior to coming to NMSU, Cruzado-Salas served four years as arts and sciences dean at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. She earned her Ph.D. in humanities at the University of Texas-Arlington in 1990, having also earned her master’s in Spanish there. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Puerto Rico in 1982 with a bachelor’s in comparative literature.

Manuel T. Pacheco, June 2009 – Dec 2009, Oct 2012 – May 2013

Students dine together at Corbett Center Crossroads

Dr. Manuel T. Pacheco was appointed interim president at New Mexico State University in June 2009 and again in October 2012. Pacheco, a New Mexico native and former president of the University of Arizona and the University of Missouri, led the university for six months while a national search was under way for a permanent president. He previously acted in a similar capacity at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, N.M. Pacheco, whose long list of honors includes everything from Father of the Year in Tucson, Ariz., to being named one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics in America by Hispanic Business Magazine, is a former Fulbright Fellow and the winner of the Hispanic Achievement Trailblazer Award from Hispanic Magazine. He also was the president of the University of Houston-Downtown and Laredo State University, and is a Distinguished Alumnus of The Ohio State University. Pacheco earned his Ph.D. in foreign language education in 1969 and a master’s in Spanish in 1966, both from The Ohio State University. He has a bachelor’s from New Mexico Highlands University and also studied at Universite de Montpellier, France.

Barbara Couture, 2010 – 2012

Students dine together at Corbett Center Crossroads

Dr. Barbara Couture took office as president of New Mexico State University in January 2010. She came to NMSU from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she was senior vice chancellor for academic affairs and a professor of English. Prior to that, she served as the dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Washington State University in Pullman. An award-winning writer, she was named a fellow of the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing in 2010. Couture completed her undergraduate studies with high distinction at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. She attended graduate school there, earning her Master of Arts and doctorate in English language and literature.

Garrey Carruthers, 2013 - Present

Students dine together at Corbett Center Crossroads

Dr. Garrey Carruthers became the 27th president of New Mexico State University in 2013, and the only graduate to date to hold this position. Raised in Aztec, N.M., Carruthers earned his bachelor’s degree in agriculture and a master’s in agricultural economics from NMSU. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Iowa State University. Carruthers joined the NMSU faculty in 1968 in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business. He has served as a White House fellow, assigned to the Secretary of Agriculture, and as assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior during the Reagan Administration. He served as the governor of New Mexico from 1987-1991 — the last constitutionally limited, single-term governor. He was cofounder, president, and chief executive officer of Cimarron Health Plan, a managed care company. The company was sold in 2004. He returned to his roots in July 2003 to become the dean of the College of Business at NMSU, where he also served concurrently as the vice president for economic development and, beginning in 2009, as the director of the Pete V. Domenici Institute for Public Policy.