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Role Reversal Leads NMSU Agriculture Professor To Award

The head of New Mexico State University's Agricultural and Extension Education Department has been honored with a national award from his peers, and he has his students to thank for it.



Thomas Dormody, head of New Mexico State University's Agricultural and Extension Education Department, received the Teacher Fellow Award from the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture. (NMSU photo)

Thomas Dormody received the Teacher Fellow Award from the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture, or NACTA. He is the second NMSU professor to ever win the prestigious award. The only other professor to receive the honor, Brenda Seevers, made the initial nomination to NACTA.

Dormody has been at NMSU for the past 17 years, including the last 12 years as a department head. Before his arrival in Las Cruces, he was a high school agricultural education teacher in California, where he also served as FFA adviser.

"(The nomination process) was a complete role reversal because part of the nomination packet was to include letters from current and former students," he said. "They were more than happy to do it. After writing them so many letters of reference over the years, they told me it was about time they got to write one for me."

The nomination also required Dormody to submit a self-evaluation, copies of his most recent classroom evaluations, and letters of recommendation from students, alumni and administrators.

"It feels good because the students are why I keep doing what I'm doing. I believe being an adviser to the students is one of the most important roles we fill. It feels like a dream come true because I've always wanted to have an impact on my students."

In fact, the one-on-one contact with students has Dormody at a crossroads in his career.

"The next step would be administration, but I wouldn't have the day-to-day contact," he said. "I could have an indirect impact as an administrator to the larger group, but I have a more direct impact with the smaller group."

For now, Dormody's only plans are to continue to advise and teach students, and work with his department to maintain a students-first attitude.

"That's the great thing about us here, we're all on the same page. Everyone is here to help the students get where they want to go and fully achieve their potential."

Photo is available at http://ucommphoto.nmsu.edu/newsphoto/dormody.jpg.
CUTLINE: Thomas Dormody, head of New Mexico State University's Agricultural and Extension Education Department, received the Teacher Fellow Award from the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture. (NMSU photo)

Victor Venegas
July 11, 2006