Last weekend was Move-In Day, one of my favorite Aggie traditions (2018, 2019). After being on campus for a few months, students tell us New Mexico State University feels like home, and it was good to welcome them back. Incoming students were welcomed not just by residence hall staff but by an amazing and energetic group of Aggie volunteers representing our faculty and staff, sororities and fraternities, athletics teams, ASNMSU and several student clubs. It is an emotional time of letting go and looking forward, especially for our newest Aggies, and during a time when uncertainty is all around us, causing pessimism to battle optimism for preeminence.
My recommendation is optimism. A year ago, we faced Move-In Day (2020) with masks and personal protective equipment. This year, we might still be in masks, but we know vaccines provide strong protection against severe disease from the coronavirus, including the delta variant. Members of the NMSU community can call the Aggie Health and Wellness Center at 575-646-1512 to talk about vaccines with a health care provider or get vaccinated.
On Tuesday, Provost Parker welcomed back faculty and staff at the fall convocation. There could have been no better way to end that ceremony than by recognizing Aggies Without Limits. These inspiring students work with faculty and community members and had just arrived back from El Potrero, Nicaragua. Faculty adviser Kenny Stevens reported that the community now has access to potable water because of the group’s work. He added, “The local primary school, damaged in hurricanes last year, now has a new roof and a new door that actually works. If the school gets damaged in a future hurricane, the building might fall down, but the roof and door will still be there.” Other years, they have traveled to Mexico, Guatemala, Bolivia and Puerto Rico to build and repair bridges, water systems and other infrastructure.
On Wednesday, classes started, mostly in person, and some online or hybrid. As we welcomed our students back, their parents, family and friends reminded us Aggies are everywhere. Our alumni tell us that no matter where we might find ourselves, Aggies build connections, sometimes literally, and support our communities around the region, state, nation and globe. The start of the semester always feels like a homecoming, and this year the welcome is more emotional and touching because of our long time apart.
Another Aggie who came home in May, and again this week, gave us one more milestone to celebrate. Randy Brown, an NBA draft pick and three-time NBA champion as a member of the Chicago Bulls, became an Aggie graduate! In May, Brown talked about his delayed return to classes at NMSU: “I wanted to be able to give some of my knowledge back to the collegiate athletes, and I wasn’t able to do that because I didn’t have a degree. So, coming back and getting my degree at 52 years old — it’s been really rewarding, and it opens up more options for me.”
Finally, NMSU was founded in 1888 and became the state’s land-grant institution with a tripartite mission to: educate the wider population, research solutions to local and global challenges, and extend that knowledge beyond the boundaries of the university into our communities and industries. Yesterday, we broke ground for the first phase of our Agricultural Modernization Project, an important milestone in updating our ag facilities where faculty and students learn together. The Ag Modernization Project will not only support agriculture, but the facilities will also promote interdisciplinary collaboration across colleges. The funding for this project came from general obligation bonds approved by New Mexico voters, and their investment in NMSU will benefit the entire state for many years to come. These new facilities will strengthen our mission and improve our teaching, research and extension well into the future.
Feedback is always welcomed at President.Floros@nmsu.edu.
Be Bold. Be Kind. Be Safe.