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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Higbie selected as interim dean for NMSU's College of Health and Social Services

New Mexico State University today announced that College of Health and Social Services former dean Dr. Virginia C. Higbie has accepted an invitation to serve as interim dean of the college following Dean Jeffrey Brandon's recent decision to return to the faculty from his administrative post. Higbie will take office effective July 1.

Virginia Higbie has been named interim dean of New Mexico State University's College of Health and Social Services. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

University officials met with college faculty members on June 25 to inform them of the move and encourage them to assist Higbie toward ensuring a smooth transition in advance of the next academic year.

"Dr. Higbie's willingness to step in as interim dean of the College of Health and Social Services gave us an opportunity to accelerate this process," Cruzado said. "Interim Dean Higbie will focus her energies on rebuilding a positive educational climate for our students and faculty. We are honored to have her experience and insights during this critically important period."

Higbie, a resident of New Mexico since 1973, served as the second dean of the College of Health and Social Services from 1988-2000. During her 12 years as dean, the college experienced considerable realignment of its units which then included the undergraduate degree programs in nursing, social work, and health science as well as the administration of NMSU's four branch community colleges, initial graduate off-campus delivery of courses to White Sands Missile Range and to Kirtland Air Force Base, a small but vibrant community education program, the Weekend College, the Center for Educational Development and the Institute for Gerontological Research and Education.

During this period, the college experienced rapid growth in enrollment, expansion of degree offerings including the first graduate programs of the college and the attainment of national accreditation for nursing, social work, and health science.

Recognizing the growing need for enhanced communication and collaboration with students and faculty in health and social services, Higbie sought and obtained funding from the NMSU Board of Regents and the State Legislature for the first home for the college. Today, that facility, built around the New Mexico State University War Memorial Tower, provides a lasting tribute to all who have served this country in war and for all who serve today in professional practice focusing on the health, safety and welfare of others.

Higbie's formal education includes a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Salve Regina University of Newport, R.I., a master of science degree in nursing from Boston College and a Ph.D in higher education administration and finance from the University of New Mexico.

Prior to relocating from New England with her husband, a physicist at Los Alamos, Higbie served as the director of the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital School of Nursing in Boston, as an assistant dean of the College of Nursing at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and as the senior coordinator of nursing at the College of Nursing at the University of New Hampshire.

In New Mexico with three young children, Higbie served as the campus director of the Espanola branch of Northern New Mexico Community College and upon completion of doctoral studies, as a management analysis for public school finance in the Office of the Governor. Prior to relocating to Las Cruces in l988, Higbie was the campus director of the Los Alamos campus of the University of New Mexico and taught graduate courses in administration at the UNM Graduate Center in Santa Fe.