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NMSU's Town-Gown Commission aims to strengthen community ties

New Mexico State University President Barbara Couture has formed a new commission aimed at exploring new possibilities for strengthening and facilitating the exchange of information and ideas between the university and the regional community.

Portrait photo of Barbara Couture.
NMSU President Barbara Couture has formed the Town-Gown Commission in order to strengthen and facilitate the exchange of information and ideas between the university and the regional community. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

"The term 'Town-Gown' is used by academia to describe that interface between universities and the communities they are a part of," Couture said. "My intent in forming this group is to create a process for dialogue and exchange so that, by working together, we each grow stronger."

The Town-Gown Commission holds its first meeting on June 1, and will include 17 civic, cultural, agricultural, education and business leaders such as Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagashima, Richard Haas, chairman of the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce; Jeffrey Silva, chairman of the Las Cruces Hispano Chamber of Commerce; Karen Perez, Dona Ana County commissioner; and Karen Bailey, president of the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico board of directors.

The commission's community members were selected by Couture in consultation with university staff. Couture will chair the committee. Couture's chief of staff and NMSU's senior vice president for external relations, Benjamin Woods, will provide staff support.

"There are so many important opportunities for cooperation and collaboration developing at our university and within our community," Couture said. "I believe that regularly scheduled meetings create the opportunity to bring important issues to the forefront and to find ways to work together."

The Town Gown Committee will:

? educate the regional community about the university through presentations by faculty and staff;

? inform the community about issues affecting the university;

? hear from civic leaders on issues important to the regional community and the university;

? clarify messages and ensure clear communications between the university and the broader community;

? assist in problem identification and problem solving;

? serve as a clearing house for issues of importance to be aired in a safe setting;

? address specific issues that arise and require further study and consideration through subcommittees or established university/community structures.

"The relationship between Las Cruces and NMSU is historical," Couture said. "I am reminded of how the citizens of Las Cruces came together to raise the funds needed to secure the original lands for this campus in 1889. In so many ways, we at NMSU owe our very presence to the citizens of Las Cruces. Today, 123 years later, there remains a strong relationship, but I believe it can be made stronger."