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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Retirement reception scheduled for Arts and Sciences dean

A retirement reception for E. Rene Casillas, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at New Mexico State University for the past 10 years, is scheduled for 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20, in the west ballroom of the university's Corbett Center Student Union.

ceremony will be held at 3:30 p.m.

"Dean Casillas has made outstanding contributions to the College of Arts and Sciences and to the university," Provost William Flores said. "Under his leadership, federally funded research activities within the college have grown substantially, and the college has initiated development and fund-raising efforts. He has worked hard to increase the diversity of the faculty and to ensure an environment for student success within the college and within the university."

Casillas joined the faculty of the chemistry department in 1976 as an associate professor after having worked for six years as a scientist at the Oregon Regional Primate Research Institute. He earned his doctorate in biochemistry at Oregon State University and his bachelor's degree from California State University at Chico.

Promoted to full professor in 1982, he became assistant dean of the college in 1986, associate dean in 1987 and dean in 1992.

During his tenure, successful degree programs were established in English, including the doctorate in rhetoric and technical communication and the Master of Fine Arts in creative writing, "raising the prestige of the department up a notch," Casillas said.

The Women's Studies Program was strengthened by the creation of a supplementary major and a permanent budget for a director and support staff, positioning the program to offer a major someday. The most recent initiatives have been in distance education with the creation of a Web-based master's degree in criminal justice and work under way for an undergraduate degree program to begin in the near future.

Casillas also has guided the college to hiring more faculty with expertise in border studies with the goal of specialized degree programs and a center focusing on border issues. His long-time interest in better teacher preparation has led to collaboration with the NMSU College of Education and to hiring faculty in Arts and Sciences with specialties in how to teach math and science at the elementary, secondary and college level.

Adding a development officer to the staff has increased the college's fund-raising capacity and the size of the permanent endowment for scholarships, library support and faculty development, Casillas said.

Research funding has grown more than fourfold during his administration, he said. Arts and Sciences brings in about $40 million annually in grants and contracts.

Casillas said he also has stressed the importance of hands-on laboratory experience for undergraduate students.

"I was recruited by NMSU because of my interest in providing opportunities for minority students in all disciplines," Casillas said. "One of my great satisfactions was in mentoring students in my laboratory and seeing the success of so many of our students who have gone on to graduate school and medical school."

In recognition of his service to the College of Arts and Sciences, a fund has been created to establish the E. Rene Casillas Endowed Professorship. This fund will be used to attract and retain outstanding faculty through an annual awards program supporting the activities, travel, research and/or salaries of one or more faculty members. Anyone interested in contributing to the fund may contact Cindy Hoffmann, Arts and Sciences development officer, at cyhoffma@nmsu.edu or (505) 646-2773.

Karl Hill
Aug. 12, 2002