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Longtime donors issue a second $100K challenge for endowed NMSU accounting chair

When she pledged $100,000 in the fall of 2011 to match contributions to the accounting professorship that her previous quarter-million dollar gift created, Judy Gray Johnson gave donors just two years to reach the hundred grand mark. To her delight, that goal was met five months ahead of schedule, and to keep the momentum going, she's doubling down on her $100,000 challenge.


Judy Johnson portrait
Judy Gray Johnson has issued a second $100,000 fundraising challenge to help turn the Lionel Haight Professorship in accounting into a fully endowed chair. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

"There are strong reasons to believe that there would be additional donations that would come in with another match," Johnson said. "We want to encourage more donors to help get us closer and closer to our goal of an endowed chair."

The Lionel Haight Professorship began with a $250,000 gift from Johnson and her husband, Michael, in 2010. Haight, a former NMSU professor and head of the accounting department who died in 1998, was known for his demanding yet supportive teaching style.

"Having really good professors makes a difference," Johnson said. "Professor Haight helped the students see what accounting is all about. He made sure that new students got a good foundation on which to build."

The professorship is building on a strong foundation, too. After contributions from NMSU alumni and friends - including significant gifts from the CPA firms of REDW and Beasley Mitchell & Co. - the fund is already halfway to the goal of a $1 million, fully endowed chair.

Over the years, the Johnsons have given generously to NMSU. Along with the donations in Haight's honor, in 2006 the Johnsons gave NMSU a $1 million gift to help the College of Arts and Sciences establish its first endowed chair in the Department of Geological Sciences. In honor of Judy's grandmother, they established the Daisy Gray Scholarship for students majoring in special education with a $150,000 gift in 2008. In 2009, the pair, who live just outside of Santa Fe, pledged $125,000 to the NMSU Center for the Arts to establish the new center's costume shop, Jaki's Closet, named after their daughter, Jaclynn.

Judy attended NMSU from 1969 to 1972, majoring in accounting. It was during those years that she and Michael, also an NMSU student at the time, met and married. Michael graduated in 1972, and Judy went on to finish her bachelor's of business administration in accounting at the University of Houston. She has several other family members who are NMSU alumni, including her grandmother, father, sister and daughter.

Judy serves on the College of Business' Business Advisory Council and the College of Education's Board of Advocates, and Michael is a past chairman of the New Mexico State University Foundation's board of directors. Each has been awarded an honorary doctorate from NMSU.

For more information on the Johnsons' second $100,000 challenge, contact the assistant dean for development at the College of Business, Andrea Tawney, at 575-646-4917 or at atawney@nmsu.edu. To make a secure online gift directly to this endowment, visit http://giving.nmsu.edu/haight.html.