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N.M. Lt. Gov. Denish teams with former journalist to teach NMSU class this fall

Leaders in public service and the journalists who cover them will be the topic for a class this fall at New Mexico State University.

Diane Denish, New Mexico lieutenant governor, will co-teach a class at NMSU this fall. (Courtesy photo)

New Mexico's Lt. Gov. Diane Denish will join former reporter and editor Mary Benanti to explore that subject in a unique class titled "Women, Politics and the Media." The Tuesday evening class will expose students firsthand to role of women in politics.

"This is a timely and important class," said Lisa Bond-Maupin, Director of Women's Studies. "We'll be exposing students to a wide variety of state, regional and local leaders in politics and in journalism."

"We have an outstanding opportunity before us. As more young people consider public service, it's important that they understand the political arena and the significance of 24/7 media coverage in shaping the debate," Denish said. "As elected officials work to take on the challenges of the 21st century - and for us, that means making New Mexico safer, expanding access to health care, and bringing opportunity to every community - this class will provide budding public servants with the ability to analyze media coverage of women in office and better prepare their own messages on issues important to them."

The country now has its first woman Speaker of the House and a woman is running a full-fledged campaign for the presidency, Benanti noted.

"The issues women face in public life are becoming increasingly intertwined with fundamental shape of politics. We have a woman secretary of state. In New Mexico, we have a woman lieutenant governor standing in for a governor running for president. The United States clearly is poised to join other nations in the world that have overcome the gender barrier in politics," said Benanti, who reported on politics from Washington, D.C. for seven years during parts of the Reagan, George H.W. Bush. and Bill Clinton administrations.

Denish serves as acting governor when Gov. Bill Richardson is out of state, which has become more frequent as he takes on the duties of running for president. Denish has listed developing leadership among young people as one of her goals in office, and hopes that sharing her insights with them will inspire some to make a difference though public service.

Denish will focus on policy-making and the issues in which she has been involved; Benanti will emphasize the need for solid and clear political reporting that is gender neutral and encourages transparency and accountability in government.

"This is not a class for women students only," Benanti said. "Anyone interested in public service will get an insider's view of all the issues involved in service in today's world, and a key perspective on the dynamics that women leaders face and create."

"This is an outstanding opportunity for our students, and we're grateful that Lieutenant Governor Denish could join us" said Waded Cruzado-Salas, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "Bringing individuals such as Lieutenant. Governor Denish to campus to share their knowledge with our students will help prepare them for their own careers."

A speaker series featuring high-profile political leaders is planned in conjunction with the class. The speaker series will run one evening a month and will be open to the public, while members of the class will have the added advantage of in-depth discussion surrounding the topics with the speakers themselves.

Students interested in taking the class should contact Mary Benanti at 646-3223 or Dr. Lisa Bond-Maupin at 646-5386. The special topics class is sponsored through Women's Studies -WS 450/WS 550 and cross-listed for government majors (Gov. 350.) There are still spaces available. The first class is Aug. 28.