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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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James Dean Retires from NMSU

LAS CRUCES -- James Dean, associate professor of agricultural and Extension education, is retiring August 1, after 21 years of teaching at New Mexico State University.

Dean came to NMSU in 1975 as an assistant professor in the agricultural engineering department. He has a master's degree in agricultural mechanics from Texas A&M, and a doctorate in vocational education from East Texas State. He began his teaching career at Texas A&M in 1971 and was named Outstanding Teacher there in 1973.

In 1982, Dean earned NMSU's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences Distinguished Teaching Award. The student's Ag and Home Ec Council named him Teacher of the Year in 1985 and Outstanding Professor in 1988. Collegiate FFA selected him as Teacher of the Year in 1993, 1994 and 1996. In 1994, Dean received the Donald C. Roush Excellence in Teaching Award from the college.

Dean's classes in agricultural mechanics, including diesel mechanics, welding, structures, machinery and windmills, have been among the most popular at the college. In addition, he taught freshman orientation and leadership classes. He has served as coordinator of the Ag Institute since 1986.

Dean was born and raised in central Texas, where his father, uncles and grandfather farmed. Until 1968, Dean worked for Getty Oil in the fields south of Odessa, where there was "nothing but greasewood, pumpjacks and jackrabbits."

"I always wanted to get back to my roots in agriculture," he said. "But with a wife and two kids to support, I thought college was just a pipedream."

Dean's wife thought differently. "Gloria knew how badly I wanted to go to school, so one day she sold our house out from under us, put us in a motor home, and we headed for College Station, Texas."

Dean originally wanted to be an Extension agent, but his college advisor offered him a teaching job at Texas A&M. "When given the opportunity, I found out how much teaching was a part of me," Dean said. "I started teaching in 1971 and have done it ever since."

Dean will continue teaching his windmill course and consulting across the state. His clients include Native American ranchers and farmers from the Jemez Pueblo, and Zuni and Jicarilla Reservations.

"We go completely over windmills, their components and functions. There's schoolwork plus hands-on experience with operative windmills," Dean said. "This travelling classroom benefits the operators, allowing them to put some sweat equity into their windmills."

Dean said that he will miss the everyday interaction with students. "I've always thought education should be fun," he said. "Teaching is 100 percent attitude, and I've tried to walk into the classroom with an attitude that says, 'I care that you're here today; now let's learn something.'"