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Early childhood educator receives J. Paul Taylor Professorship

Early childhood educator Betsy Cahill has been selected to receive the J. Paul Taylor Endowed Professorship in Education at New Mexico State University.

Betsy Cahill, an early childhood educator at New Mexico State University, has been selected to receive the J. Paul Taylor Endowed Professorship in Education. (NMSU Photo by Darren Phillips)

Cahill, co-department head in the College of Education's curriculum and instruction department and an associate professor of early childhood education, is the first recipient of the professorship. She will hold the designation as long as she remains a full-time faculty member in the College of Education.

The professorship has been established by family and friends of J. Paul Taylor through the NMSU Foundation and matched by the university. The endowment is now at $250,000.

Taylor, a retiring state representative, received three degrees from NMSU, a bachelor's in 1942, a master's in 1954 and a Specialist in Education in 1963. He has been a lifelong advocate for K-12 education, most notably early childhood and bilingual education.

"He is greatly admired and respected across the state and has done so much for New Mexico," said Eula Fern Thompson, a member of the NMSU President's Associates Board. "As a former educator, he has been instrumental in providing funding for education in New Mexico, so it seemed that establishing an endowment in his honor would guarantee we could raise all of the needed funds."

College of Education Dean Robert Moulton agreed. "Shortly after I became dean of the College of Education, J. Paul Taylor came to my office and asked how he could help me. I didn't know him and I had no idea then of his years of service to New Mexico's public schools, but it didn't take me long to sense that this quiet, unassuming man deserved my attention. I think of him as a role model and mentor, a wise senior statesman, and a benefactor," Moulton said.

"J. Paul has devoted his life to serving his alma mater, the teaching profession, and all of New Mexico. He has a passion for early childhood and it is fitting that Dr. Betsy Cahill was chosen as the first J. Paul Taylor Endowed Professor. Like J. Paul, Dr. Cahill is respected as a leader and advocate for early childhood education. In many ways, Dr. Cahill reminds me of J. Paul Taylor. There is in both of them such depth, such wisdom, and such caring for children."

Cahill joined NMSU in 1994 as the program area coordinator for the university's early childhood program. She has a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Wilmington College in Ohio and a master's degree and doctorate in early childhood education from Kent State University.

Prior to her career in higher education, Cahill was a preschool teacher for more than 17 years. She has published many articles on issues related to young children and has secured grants that have allowed for the development of new programs in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, including an Early Childhood Professional Development Initiative Project to research, design and develop educational standards for a variety of specializations, endorsements and certifications. She was a co-author of Gov. Bill Richardson's Early Learning Plan that the governor announced at New Mexico State in October.

Thompson, Olivia Olgas, a local educator and NMSU graduate, and Pat Conn, assistant dean for advancement for the College of Education, were instrumental in the establishment of the endowment.

For more information or to donate to the endowment, call Conn at (505) 646-2130.