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NMSU introduces new endowed dairy chair

New Mexico State University's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences is establishing an endowed chair to focus on the dairy industry.

Mark Gladden (left), NMSU College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences major gift officer; Al Squire, Dairy Producers of New Mexico president; and Lewis Topliff, former NMSU dairy general manager; celebrate NMSU's announcement of a new endowed dairy chair. New Mexico dairy industry representatives will help design the objectives and structure of the $1 million endowed chair. (NMSU Photo by Jane Moorman)

"In a state where dairy is the leading industry, we must have a robust dairy program at NMSU," said Lowell Catlett, dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. "This $1 million endowed chair and a potential matching donation will permanently nail-down the college's dedication to achieving long-term and meaningful dairy education, research and extension."

The NMSU Foundation and the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences are proud to announce the formation of this endowed chair.

"The NMSU Foundation is committed to supporting Dean Catlett's vision of a robust dairy program and is honored to help establish this groundbreaking $1 million Endowed Dairy Chair," said Nick Franklin, vice president of advancement with the NMSU Foundation.

Mark Gladden, major gift officer with Dean Catlett's office, introduced the concept of the endowed chair to the Dairy Producers of New Mexico board of directors on Dec. 3 in Albuquerque

"We would like the New Mexico dairy industry to design the objectives and structure of this chair," Gladden said. "A five-person, industry-dominated committee will be formed to map out the terms and conditions of the chair. This process will provide grass-root leadership to permanently bolster NMSU's commitment to dairy."

Lewis Topliff, former NMSU dairy general manager, will serve as the committee chairperson. The industry representatives will be from the three major regions of the state where dairy is most prevalent - eastern New Mexico, mid-Rio Grande Valley and Mesilla Valley.

"The committee will design the chair's task to speak to the precise needs of the dairy industry," Topliff said. "Besides giving further direction to research, I hope, through the endowed chair, we are able to establishes a minor in dairy science."

The chair will be funded by combining a $900,000 dairy quasi-endowment fund, originally established with the proceeds of the sale of NMSU's dairy in the 1980s, with an existing $100,000 dairy scholarship fund, originally established with contribution from the New Mexico Dairy Processors Association and the Mesilla Valley Dairy Herd Improvement Association.

"The university will also offer a high-profile endowed chair-naming opportunity by challenging one or more industry partners to match this vital $1 million commitment," Gladden said.

The college currently has four endowed chairs - the Gerald W. Thomas Chair, the Jose Fernandez Chair, the Tom Linebery Chair, and the Evelyn Linebery Chair.

The Gerald W. Thomas Chair in Food Production and Natural Resources was the first endowed chair in NMSU's history. It was established in honor of former NMSU President Gerald W. Thomas when he retired in 1984.

The Jose Fernandez Memorial Chair was established in 1992 by the Enrique Chavez family in recognition of Fernandez's contribution to NMSU and the agricultural community.

The Tom Linebery Chair and Evelyn Linebery Chair were established in 2002 by a donation from the Scarborough-Linebery Foundation. The chairs helped make the college a leader in the areas of range science and agricultural economics

The academic tradition of endowed chairs dates back to 1502 when Margaret of Richmond, mother of Henry VII, established the Lady Margaret Professorship of Divinity at Oxford University in England. Half a millennium later, the endowed chair has evolved into one of the most prestigious and permanent investments that can be made in any university.

"Beyond their direct impact on research and scholarship, these venerated posts play a vital role in immortalizing an individual or company whose name is permanently linked to the chair, resulting in a highly visible form of recognition that lives on from generation to generation," Gladden said.

"These chairs constitute a powerful means of attracting and retaining superior faculty in rich scientific areas of research because they provide a permanent source of financial support for salaries and academic activities," Gladden said. "Furthermore, endowed positions offer a unique opportunity for students to study under the guidance of world-class scholars."