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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Michael V. Martin takes reins as president at New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University's new president says he plans to do a lot of listening and learning over the next few weeks.

to get out and about and learn as much as I can about the university, the community and the state," Michael V. Martin said Thursday on his first official day as NMSU president. "I want to get well acquainted with the institution and with people's expectations and aspirations for it."

Among his immediate priorities, he said, are to accelerate the university's private fund raising activities, to demonstrate a commitment to diversity, to promote the university's role in economic development and to learn the state's legislative process.

Martin comes to New Mexico's land-grant university with nearly three decades of experience at other land-grant institutions. He was vice president for agriculture and natural resources at the University of Florida for six years, leading the university's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences with more than 3,000 employees statewide.

He previously was vice president for agricultural policy at the University of Minnesota. He began his academic career as a faculty member at Oregon State University.

Land-grant universities "are by definition and by tradition the people's universities," Martin said in a news interview during his first day in office.

"I feel incredibly honored, and moderately challenged, to be given the privilege of serving as president of New Mexico State University," he said. "This is an excellent university and my job will be to work with others to figure out how to make it better. It isn't broken, but I don't believe in the old saying 'If it ain't broke don't fix it.' I believe if it ain't broke, make it better."

The university's diversity was evident throughout the new president's first day, which began with a traditional Native American welcome from a dancer-drummer duo and included an informal lunch with students at the Aggie Underground club punctuated by NMSU's Mariachi Cuerdas de Oro.

"The community wants this institution to embrace diversity in all its aspects," Martin said. He described his own commitment to diversity as "primary, not secondary."

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, now known as Minnesota State University. He received his Ph.D. in applied economics from the University of Minnesota in 1977.

He and his wife Jan have two children, both adopted from Korea. Amanda, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Clair, is a graphic artist in St. Paul, Minn. Sam, with a bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota, is a graduate student at Sarah Lawrence College in New York.