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NMSU Regents approve naming street after former Black Programs director Andrew Wall

To honor the memory of Andrew Wall, the longest-serving director of New Mexico State University Black Programs, NMSU is dedicating a street on campus in his name. Regents recently approved naming a portion of Locust Street "Andrew Wall Place."

B/W mug of Andrew Wall
Andrew Wall was the longest-serving director of NMSU Black Programs. He passed away in December 2010. To honor his memory, NMSU is naming a section of Locust Street "Andrew Wall Place." (NMSU photo)

"Andrew Wall was a mentor and inspiration for many students," said Dean Michael Morehead, of the College of Education. "Additionally, he was a strong advocate for NMSU students and set high expectations for them. By doing so, he changed the lives of students. Dr. Wall was a passionate educator who challenged students to think critically and reflect on their values."

Wall completed his doctorate at NMSU in 1970 and went on to serve as the director of Black Programs from 1973 to 1997. He also served as president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, served on city commissions, was vice chair of the State of New Mexico Corrections Commission and held numerous other positions throughout the state.

Wall passed away in December 2010.

Christina Chavez Kelley, assistant vice president for Student Diversity and Outreach, said this recognition has been a long time in the making and took the dedication and passion of alumni and NMSU personnel to bring to fruition.

Several of Wall's former students were among those attending a memorial service for him in January.

"He had such a huge impact on their lives and they were just devastated when they learned of his passing," Chavez Kelley said. "After the memorial, we began to discuss how we could recognize Dr. Wall."

One of the first advocates to come forward with support to recognize Wall was Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton, the New Mexico House Majority whip and an NMSU alumna. Stapleton was very active as a student at NMSU in the mid-1970s in Black Programs and the Black Student Association. Rep. Stapleton made the formal request for the university to consider the naming.

Other alumni lent their support to the initiative, along with Morehead, Chavez Kelley and other NMSU administrators: Festus Addo-Yobo, director of Black Programs; Dennis Prescott, vice president for University Advancement; Ben Woods, senior vice president for external relations; and Ricardo Rel, assistant vice president for government relations. Morehead voiced strong support of the request to the Naming Committee and Prescott presented the item to the University Administrative Council for their approval.

Andrew Wall Place is the block-long section of street in front of Garcia Annex, where Black Programs is housed. The street placard is posted at the intersection of Locust and Stewart streets.

"I think this is fantastic," Addo-Yobo said. "This is a great opportunity for alums to celebrate NMSU Black Programs and remember the fantastic contributions Wall made."

A ceremony was held Oct. 8 for the street naming. According to Chavez Kelley, Wall's family was present and they are elated with this honor that has been bestowed on him.

NMSU Black Programs held a banquet recently to honor Wall and raise funds to support the Dr. Andrew Wall Endowed Scholarship Fund. This fund will be used as a resource for African-American students at NMSU.

This is the third time a black graduate of NMSU has been honored in this way. Clara Belle Williams was the first black student to graduate from the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts in 1928 with a bachelor's degree in English. NMSU named Williams Street on the Las Cruces campus in her honor in 1961. Williams was again honored with the renaming of the English Building as Clara Belle Williams Hall in 2005.