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Martin pledges dedication to land-grant mission

During his inaugural ceremony today (Jan. 14), New Mexico State University's 22nd President Michael Martin pledged to remain true to the land-grant mission, embrace diversity and be accountable to the citizens of New Mexico.

New Mexico State University President Michael Martin was inaugurated as the university's 22nd president on Jan. 14. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

"This is a celebration of a great university," Martin said. "We stand on the platform of our founders and we are bound to be true to their commitment and to their dreams, but we have to do it in a 21st Century context ... we will remain true to a commitment to excellence in everything we do."

Martin said NMSU cannot be excellent without a commitment to diversity.

"We will remain committed to diversity in all of its dimensions. It is who we are. We will celebrate diversity," he said.

Diversity played a key part in the inaugural ceremony as Lloyd Tortalita, traditional elder and religious leader of the Pueblo of Acoma, presented Martin with a piece of Acoma pottery filled with seeds that he said represented the students that the pueblo sends to NMSU to grow and be educated.

Martin said the university also must strive to be accountable to the citizens of this state and beyond. "We will continue to be the people's university in this state because that is our mission," he said.

Martin's comments were similar to those offered by Gov. Bill Richardson, who welcomed Martin to the state and the university.

"It is important that we celebrate a new era here at New Mexico State University," Richardson said. "Higher Education will be front and center as one of the top priorities of the (upcoming legislative) session. We've laid out a comprehensive package that is designed to elevate higher education in our state, but also to create opportunities for all New Mexicans to increase accessibility to our colleges and universities.

"We want to make college more affordable through scholarships, widen access to financial assistance and hold our universities more accountable," Richardson said. "Dr. Martin will be a key player throughout New Mexico and nationally because this is one of the flagship institutions with land-grant status in America. I know Dr. Martin is focused, as all of us are, in graduating students and preparing students for the new high-wage economy that we are building in New Mexico."

The ceremony and investiture was led by NMSU Board of Regents President Robert Gallagher and included greetings from NMSU's faculty, staff, students and alumni as well as community leaders including Mayor William Mattiace and Louis Martinez, superintendent of the Las Cruces Public Schools and prayers by Rabbi Gerald Kane and Bishop Ricardo Ramirez.

Close to 100 delegates representing institutions of higher education from across the country and Mexico participated in the ceremony.

Martin's academic career has been dedicated to the land-grant mission of teaching, research and extension service. 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). He received his Ph.D. in applied economics from the University of Minnesota in 1977.