2015-08-05, NMSU Provost Daniel Howard

Denton leads the singingPresident Alex Keatts rang the bell at 12:10 p.m. to open the meeting which started with a prayer for safety by Mary Ellen McKay.  Alex then led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.   A lively meet and greet followed a remarkable version of “There Is Nothin’ Like a Dame” led by Denton Holmes.  Kristi Granados was the mystery greeter. 

We had two visiting Rotarians – Peter Krebs from the Rio Grande Club and William Baker from the Socorro Club.  William exchanged club banners with Alex.  Our guests were Eddy Binder (Janet Green’s husband), Mona Menking (Cornell Menking’s wife) and Glenn Duff (guest of Dinus Briggs).  We are really encouraging Glenn to join our band of mischief makers. 

Alex announced the birthdays, wedding anniversaries, and club anniversaries then led us in an acapella version of Happy Birthday.

Happy Dollars

John Hernandez & Paul ComeauJohn Hernandez was mighty glad to be here and Blaine Goss was mighty glad that John was here!  John Pickett was happy to announce that Kids Kindness Day 2015 was a huge success.  Over 1,000 backpacks were filled with school supplies and handed out.  Earl Phillips was happy about the wedding of his one and only granddaughter.  Eddie Binder was happy that the Dona Ana Community College’s nursing program regained its accreditation after 3 years.  Socorro Rotarian William Baker was just happy he wasn’t late!!

The Program

Greg Fant introduced our speaker, Dr. Dan Howard, NMSU’s Executive Vice President and Provost.  Dr. Howard returned to NMSU in 2013 after spending five years at the University of Colorado-Denver as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  Dr. Howard first arrived at NMSU 25 years ago as an Assistant Professor of Biology.  He also served as Head of the NMSU Department of Biology.

Dr. Howard was very excited to be we us, especially since his favorite musical is South Pacific and our song is his favorite from that musical.  Hm…Denton, did you plan this?

NMSU Provost Dan HowardDr. Howard brought us up-to-date on many of the changes happening at NMSU.  As for facilities, the long awaited new Hardman and Jacobs Undergraduate Learning Center should be open in time for the fall semester.  Greg Fant heads up this project so if it isn’t open in time, Dr. Howard jokingly said we can refer all complaints to Greg!!   Chemical and Materials Engineering at NMSU has evacuated Jett Hall and renovations will begin soon.  Jett Hall was built in the 1950s and is in need of renovations to improve labs and classrooms for the chemical, mechanical, and aerospace engineering programs.  The renovation will turn the buildings into a safer, top-notch facility for teaching and learning.  Rentfrow Gym is also scheduled for renovations and administration is looking to get funding for new animal science buildings.

Dr. Howard also told us that NMSU’s 6-year graduation rate is 44%.  So in addition to the many facility projects, NMSU is launching a new freshman retention program, Student Success Navigators.  At the heart of the program will be thirteen year-round graduate assistants serving as peer mentors.  They will be available to answer questions and connect freshman to resources.  Part of this will be monitoring attendance.  Research has found that the biggest factor to student graduation success is attending class.

Dr. Howard also introduced us to the Aggie Pathway to the Baccalaureate program.  This is a path to a baccalaureate degree from NMSU for students who do not meet NMSU’s higher admission requirements, or who simply prefer to begin their studies at one of NMSU’s community colleges.  These students follow a prescriptive plan and are placed into learning communities.  Students who complete at least 36 credit hours with at least a 2.00 GPS may enroll in the University’s Las Cruces campus.  This sounds like a fabulous bridge program for many students.  NMSU’s administration is looking at ways to reward the Community Colleges for providing the starting point for these students.

NMSU is also looking at opportunities for students to become more actively involved in faculty research projects and ways to recruit a wide variety of potential students.  This fall, five National Merit Scholars will be among the new freshmen.

While NMSU recently lost its biggest and one of its most long-standing technical contracts when NASA awarded management of its Scientific Balloon Program to Orbital Sciences Corp of Maryland, the Physical Science Laboratory isn’t closing the doors.  They continue to bring in new, yet undisclosed, contracts.

And don’t forget about Aggie Sports!  Buy your tickets soon to fill the stadium on Saturday, September 12.  The game is a conference game against the Georgia State Panthers.  Our team is determined to play Division 1 football this year. 

Many Rotarians had questions for Dr. Howard ranging from the decommissioning of Monagle Hall to the University’s relationship with the Arrowhead Center’s Early College High School.  Charles Townley asked about the percentage of NMSU’s courses that are web-based and the impact they have on facilities and professors.  The University is forming a workgroup to look into distance education issues.

After the Program

The can collected $64 for Mesilla Valley Hospice. Again, Jay Jordan won the raffle.  The meeting was closed with the 4-way test.

<prior week   following week>

Guests of Rotarians



Eddie Binder

Janet Green

Glenn Duff

Dinus Briggs

Mona Menking

Cornell Menking

Visiting Rotarians


Home Club

William Baker

Socorro, NM

Peter Krebs

Rio Grande

Student Guests-none for the summer





David Yaryan


Rio Grande

Earl Phillips


Rio Grande

Submitted by Kristi GranadosKristi Granados