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Carruthers builds momentum in first year as dean of business

The past 12 months have been a dream come true for Garrey Carruthers, dean of the College of Business Administration and Economics at New Mexico State University.

Garrey Carruthers, middle, dean of the NMSU College of Business Administration and Economics, talks business with Alejandra Montes, far left, a recent business graduate; Ryan Anderson, a graduate student; Cynthia Ordonez, a senior psychology and forensic

years I talked about returning to the university to bring back the kinds of experiences that I've had in life and share them with the university, students, faculty and administrators," he said. "The dream I had for 25 years has come true as far as I'm concerned because I'm able to do that, and I hope everyone else is enjoying it as much as I am."

The former businessman and New Mexico governor, who recently completed his first year as dean, said the vision of the college is to be recognized as one of the premier business colleges in the Southwest.

"I think we have an opportunity with this very fine faculty to really build a powerful and prestigious College of Business Administration and Economics," he said. "My aspiration before I retire is to make that a reality."

To be considered one of the best, people have to know who you are and what you are all about. And that is what Carruthers, his faculty and staff have been working to accomplish.

"The university told me that they wanted someone to connect the college to the greater community and the state," he said. "They wanted someone who can raise funds and do more quality development and we are doing that."

A month after Carruthers became dean, a $1 million gift was received to endow the first chair ever in the college. The initiative was due largely to the efforts of former dean Danny Arnold, NMSU alumnus Edward Lujan and faculty member Barry Smith, and Carruthers has built on the momentum.

"We are making giant strides in bringing our alumni back to the college to contribute and getting donations from people who are supportive of our program," Carruthers said. He added that a second million-dollar chair is expected to be announced in the near future.

Reaching out to the community and the state at large is another priority. Carruthers said faculty members are volunteering for committees and participating in activities such as researching background information for the most recent New Mexico First report and creating the monthly New Mexico Business Outlook newsletter, a useful tool for businesses.

"Dean Carruthers has been a breath of fresh air," said Chris Erickson, associate professor of economics and editor of the newsletter. "From little things like putting a magazine rack in the college lobby for students to the big issues like alumni relations and funded research, he has changed the tone of the college for the better."

Before taking the helm of the business college, Carruthers was president and CEO of the Cimarron Health Plan. He served as governor of New Mexico from 1987 to 1990. He was an assistant U.S. secretary of the interior from 1981 to 1984 and during 1974 and 1975 he served as special assistant to the U.S. secretary of agriculture.

In addition to his responsibilities as dean, Carruthers serves on boards, commissions and committees such as the New Mexico Business Roundtable for Educational Excellence, the New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry and the Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

"We are trying to be a much bigger player than we have been in the past," he said. "As dean, I will continue to spend 30 percent to 40 percent of my time connecting the college with the state of New Mexico and all its communities."

Partnerships, within the university and outside in the community, are another priority.

"Before, I didn't detect as much of an opportunity to collaborate with other colleges (on campus)," he said. "Each college seemed to be an island."

But times have changed. Recently, the College of Business Administration and Economics and the College of Agriculture and Home Economics developed a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program with a specialization in agribusiness, and a similar partnership is in the works with the College of Engineering.

One of the biggest successes for the college and the university since Carruthers has been on board was the creation of the Arrowhead Center Inc.

"This is our attempt to form alliances such that we can commercialize the intellectual property that is around New Mexico State, New Mexico Tech, Los Alamos and Sandia," he said. "The thesis here is, as we develop patents and copyrights around the campus, they bring those ideas to the Arrowhead Center. We are using our MBA and doctoral students to develop business plans, a marketing analysis and then connect those that we think are good ideas to the venture capital community so that we can see if we can generate new high tech companies in New Mexico."

At the day's end, the biggest highlight Carruthers recalls over the past year is simply being back on campus.

"I think the greatest pleasure I have is being among the students," he said. "Talking with the students and mentoring the students; that is what really holds me to this job."

Laura Beltran and Alejandra Montes appreciate Carruthers' energy and spirit.

"He provides an enthusiastic and optimistic work environment for his staff including all the students," said Beltran, a senior accounting major and student worker at the college.

"In addition to exuding professionalism throughout his daily activities, he also takes the time to approach and interact with students around the business college, not only those who work in his office, but all students roaming the lobby and halls," said Montes, a recent graduate who majored in accounting and international business.

His love for education stems from his own college days at NMSU and the support he received from the faculty.

"I was really successful as a student at NMSU because I had faculty members who cared about me," he said. "I always felt that the most important aspect of both my undergraduate and graduate education was contact with faculty -- being mentored, guided and encouraged by them."

Carruthers doesn't plan to slow down any time soon, and said that the future of the college looks bright.

"I want to expand the amount of research we do here," he continued, "and drive hard for more creative activity." He also said he would like to reward and justly compensate faculty who do public service and who attract funds that support students.

Carruthers earned his bachelor's and master's degrees at New Mexico State and got his Ph.D. in economics from Iowa State University in 1968. Carruthers was part of the NMSU faculty from 1968 to 1985, with interruptions for governmental appointments.