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New Mexico State University

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NMSU associate professor named department head of geography

An associate professor has taken on the role of academic department head of geography at New Mexico State University's College of Arts and Sciences.

Christopher Brown is the new department head for geography at New Mexico State University.(NMSU photo)

Christopher Brown officially assumed the position Aug. 1.

Brown said he is thrilled to take the position and is ready to face the challenges of leading a department while continuing his duties as a teacher and scholar.

"My main goal is to get the balance right, to figure out that dynamic and structure my workload so that I can get everything done," he said.

Brown said he is inheriting a department that is in excellent shape from Jack Wright, who served as department head for the past five years.

In the last five years, the department has tripled its number of majors and the department was extremely well-rated in a recent university publication of graduate programs from the office of the Vice President for Research. Brown said the Department of Geography is one of only 13 programs at the Las Cruces campus to be rated "excellent" and it is the only department in the areas of social sciences and humanities to receive an "excellent" rating.

Both undergraduate and graduate geography students have marketable skills when they leave the university, he said.

One major goal of the department, Brown said, is to participate in a doctorate degree program. Currently, the department only has a master's program. Brown said they are working on a joint project between geography, animal and range sciences and agricultural economics/business, as well as the Water Science and Education Center to create a doctorate program in water science and management.

"One of our major objectives as a department in the future is to get that degree program approved," he said.

Brown said his love for geography came while he was completing a bachelor's degree in economics from San Diego State University. As part of his studies, Brown took a cross-cultural component class in conservation of natural resources. When that class ended, Brown signed up for another geography course - and then another. Brown opted to finish his bachelor's degree in economics and worked toward a minor in geography.

He then went on to earn his master's degree in geography at Michigan State University and his doctorate in the same field in a joint doctorate program hosted by San Diego State University and the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Brown said he will continue to teach the courses "Geography of Latin America" and "Urban Geography" as well as some technical classes in the Master's of Applied Geography program.

Brown said he is looking forward to seeing new challenges unfold and continue the work laid out by previous department heads.

"I have a very good department," Brown said. "All of the faculty and staff are very talented. They are a very civil, decent group of people with whom to work and it's a great pleasure to work with them. I'm just appreciative of the opportunity the provost (Waded Cruzado) and dean (Pamela Jansma) gave me to take on this challenge."