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Geological sciences professor selected for 2002 Dennis W. Darnall award

Nancy J. McMillan, an associate professor of geological sciences, has been selected to receive the 2002 Dennis W. Darnall Faculty Achievement Award.



Nancy McMillan, an associate professor of geological sciences at New Mexico State University, will receive the university's Dennis W. Darnall Award, given each year to a faculty member for service to the university, the community and her or his professi..

The award ceremony is scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday, April 22, in Dove Hall. The award, named in honor of a former associate dean, is presented each year to a faculty member for service to the university, her or his profession and the community.

Katherine A. Giles, an associate professor of geological sciences, and Grace La Torra, computer support manager of the Office of Facilities and Services, said McMillan has performed above and beyond her "job" description, both as a member of the university faculty and as a citizen of Las Cruces.

She is a co-founder of the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope and Hacienda del Sol, non-profit agencies that provide services to families and individuals dealing with poverty and homelessness.

In a nomination letter, Las Cruces Mayor Ruben Smith praised McMillan and those who worked with her to develop the two entities, noting that they persevered through several years of political and financial battles.

At the dedication of the Community of Hope and Hacienda del Sol, officials from the Department of Housing and Urban Development said the Community of Hope is the best service delivery organization in the state and stands as an example for the nation, Smith said.

At the university, students have consistently ranked McMillan's teaching as "superior" in their teacher evaluations.

"She avoids the teaching method of daily lectures and monthly exams whenever possible," wrote Bridget McCollam, a former student. "The Igneous Petrology class she teaches is organized around a series of projects that students work through as they would an original research project. She teaches students not only the required information, but about being a scientist."

McMillan conceived and developed the Undergraduate Research for Geologic Experience (URGE) program, which provides group training and support for undergraduates doing research projects with professors in the geological sciences department.

She has published numerous papers in peer reviewed journals and received grants from such agencies as the National Science Foundation.

As a faculty member, she has chaired the University Appeals Board and served on the University Research Council and the University Honors Council. She has served on the College of Arts and Sciences' Long-Range Planning and Research Affairs committees and its College Council.

McMillan received her doctorate in geology from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, in 1986. She earned a bachelor's degree in geology and a bachelor's degree in Russian from New Mexico State in 1979.

Dennis W. Darnall was head of New Mexico State's chemistry and biochemistry department, associate dean and director of the Research Center of the College of Arts and Sciences, the founder of Bio Recovery, a company based on his research, and an award-winning teacher and researcher.

Photo is available at http://ucommphoto.nmsu.edu/newsphoto/mcmillan_nancy.jpg.
CUTLINE: Nancy McMillan, an associate professor of geological sciences at New Mexico State University, will receive the university's Dennis W. Darnall Award, given each year to a faculty member for service to the university, the community and her or his profession. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Jack King
April 8, 2002