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New Mexico State University to hold higher education forums

The future of higher education in New Mexico and across the country will be the focus of two separate discussions at New Mexico State University Jan. 13 and 14.

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

The academic symposia and events hosted as part of the inauguration of President Michael Martin will start at 3 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 13, with an open forum featuring visiting dignitaries in the Corbett Center East Ballroom.

Forum participants will include John V. Lombardi, chancellor and professor of history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst; Robert J. Jones, senior vice president for system administration at the University of Minnesota; Graham Spanier, president at Penn State University; and retired Air Force Four-Star Gen. Lester Lyles, an NMSU alumnus who is currently serving as a consultant to NASA.

Lombardi will address the educational ranking system. He is a specialist in Latin America with a special interest in Venezuelan history. Lombardi has served as dean of international programs and dean of arts and sciences at Indiana University, provost at The Johns Hopkins University and president at the University of Florida. He received his master's and doctoral degrees from Columbia University and his bachelor's from Pomona College.

Jones leads institutional strategic planning, improvement and accountability for the University of Minnesota system. He is also a professor of Agronomy and Plant Genetics and an internationally recognized authority on corn physiology. Jones has been a strong leader for diversity issues at the University of Minnesota and across the globe. He worked for Archbishop Desmond Tutu for 10 years to provide black South African students with opportunities to attend U.S. colleges and universities.

Spanier has been described as an unconventional university president. He is a magician and faculty adviser to the Penn State Performing Magicians and has performed with many groups at Penn State. He was appointed Penn State's 16th president in 1995 and has been the guiding force behind several initiatives including the creation of the Schreyer Honors College, the Penn State World Campus and the School of Information Sciences and Technology. Previously he was chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and provost and vice president for academic affairs at Oregon State University. He is a family sociologist, marriage and family therapist and the founding editor of the Journal of Family Issues. He earned his PhD. from Northwestern University.

Lyles retired from the Air Force in 2003 after 35 years of service. He serves on the board of directors for the General Dynamics Corp. and the USAA Insurance and Finance Corp. In addition to his consulting work with NASA, Lyles recently served on the President's Commission on Implementation of the U.S. Space Exploration Policy. He earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Howard University in 1968 and graduated from the Air Force Institute of Technology at NMSU with a master's in mechanical and nuclear engineering in 1969.

The second discussion will start at 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 14, and feature New Mexico's higher education leaders in the Corbett Center East Ballroom. The panel will be led by Dan Lopez, president of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology who also serves as president of the New Mexico Council of University Presidents. Other participants include President Steven Gamble, Eastern New Mexico University, and President John Counts, Western New Mexico University.

Martin's inauguration ceremony will celebrate "The Land-Grant Mission: Doing What Counts" at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 14, in the Pan American Center. The ceremony will be followed by an Aggie barbecue and public reception in the east parking lot of the Pan American Center.

For ongoing inauguration updates visit www.nmsu.edu/president/inauguration.