NMSU branding

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center




NMSU Physical Science lab director to retire in July

After nearly 38 years of service to New Mexico State University, Physical Science Laboratory Director Jay Jordan will retire on July 1.


This is a head and shoulders photo of Jay Jordan, who is retiring from NMSU July 1. Jordan has served as the director of the Physical Science Laboratory since A
Jay Jordan, director of New Mexico State University's Physical Science Laboratory, plans to retire in July after nearly 38 years of service to NMSU. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Jordan's long career at NMSU began in the fall of 1965, where he worked at PSL as a student employee. In fact, his reason for coming to NMSU in the first place was that PSL had an international satellite tracking co-operative education program.

"As a student in this program, I was assigned to a tracking station in American Samoa and later to a station in the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean," Jordan said.

Jordan graduated from NMSU in 1970 with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and took a permanent staff position as an international field engineer with PSL, a position he held for 10 years, before spending a couple of years working for Hewlett-Packard Company. He returned to NMSU in 1981 with a joint appointment between PSL and the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, and completed his Ph.D. in 1984.

"Upon completing my Ph.D., I moved into the faculty ranks and progressed from instructor to professor," he said. "By far, the most rewarding position was that of professor. In that role, I was able to help many men and women who chose to pursue degrees in electrical and computer engineering to achieve successful and rewarding careers."

Jordan served as the academic department head of electrical engineering from 1996 to 1999, and then served as the dean of the College of Engineering from 1999 to 2002. After two years with Northrop Grumman at White Sands Missile Range, Jordan returned to NMSU, working as a project engineer/program coordinator at PSL, followed by service as the associate vice president for research programs from November 2005 to December 2009, then as the interim executive vice president/provost from January to July 2010.

In August 2010, Jordan was named the director of PSL, where he managed more than 275 professional and classified staff, 60 students and a budget of about $50 million per year.

Jordan worked to make PSL a student-centric organization while there, and to provide as many relevant student jobs as possible. "Since the PSL started in 1946, there have been more than 17,000 student and student spouse employees," he said. "These jobs have ranged from engineering majors working alongside scientists, engineers and technicians at White Sands Missile Range to business majors working in PSL's accounting and business office, to art majors on the PSL security staff."

"Jay's dedication to developing and challenging NMSU students has been a driving force in his work during the years and will leave a lasting impact here," said NMSU Vice President for Research Vimal Chaitanya. "We will miss his leadership and presence on campus, but will carry on the important missions of the Physical Science Laboratory when he retires."

Jordan's legacy will continue, as the students he has mentored continue their careers.

"My proudest accomplishments are the many students who graduated from NMSU and achieved successful careers, who received a small bit of help from me and my colleagues. Some of these were the first ever in their families to receive college educations," Jordan said while reflecting on his career. "I received the Donald C. Roush 'Excellence in Teaching Award' in 1992. Since this award is largely based on input from current and former students, it is especially important to me."

Jordan and his wife, Lya, plan to remain in the Las Cruces area for now, but plan to travel and spend some time in the Seychelles Islands, where Lya is from.

"I will mainly miss the students. We have a lot of student employees at PSL. It is very rewarding to see them grow and progress in their majors, which range from art to engineering with nearly everything in between," Jordan said. "There are a number of friends, colleagues and neat projects that I will miss as well."

Steve Hottman, associate dean/deputy director of the Physical Science Laboratory, will serve as the interim director of the Physical Science Laboratory beginning on July 1.

Hottman has been at PSL since June 1998 and is currently working on his dissertation in engineering psychology, with a focus on unmanned aircraft systems, here at NMSU. He has a master's degree of industrial engineering from Texas A&M University.