Emeritus and Retired Faculty Association Formed at Highlands University

An emeritus and retired faculty association has formed at New Mexico Highlands for the first time in the university’s history.Emeritus status may be conferred to a professor at retirement and is based on exceptional service and contributions to the university during a professor’s tenure. A professor must have taught full time at Highlands for a minimum of seven consecutive years to be considered for the honor. “One important purpose of the new Association of Emeritus and Retired Faculty of NMHU is for the members to continue to contribute to the university in their area of expertise,” said Dr. Charles Leo Martinez, elected as the association’s first president. Martinez is a professor emeritus who first served on the faculty as the department chair for the Industrial Arts Department and later as a professor in the School of Education before retiring in 1993. “We never had an emeritus and retired faculty association like this before, so we didn’t have anything to tie us to Highlands University,” Martinez said. “The association will also have a social benefit. Members will have the chance to get together with former colleagues they worked with while at Highlands.”Highlands President Jim Fries said the association will have a positive benefit for everyone at the university.  “This new emeritus and retired faculty association offers the university an opportunity to stay in contact with retired faculty,” Fries said. “Their collective intellect and academic expertise will enrich our campus community.” Martinez said some examples of initiatives the new association will consider are starting a new scholarship fund for students, creating a hall of honor for deceased emeritus and retired faculty, and organizing social events that tie into university events such as homecoming. Martinez said the association researched emeritus and retired faculty associations at eight other universities for ideas to help establish its bylaws. The Emeritus and Retired Faculty Association formally approved its bylaws April 28 and also elected two other officers.  Dr. Robert Amai, professor emeritus of chemistry and longtime department chair, will serve as vice president. Dr. Sara Harris, professor emeritus of language and literature and longtime department chair, will serve as secretary/treasurer.  Most recently, Harris taught Spanish in the School of Social Work’s Bilingual/Bicultural Graduate Program.The association’s officers served on the Highlands University faculty for a combined total of more than 78 years. “This new organization would never have happened without the support of President Jim Fries, Vice President of Academic Affairs Gilbert Rivera, Dr. Maureen Romine, chair of the Faculty Senate, Dr. Sharon Caballero, interim advancement director, and Dr. Doyle Daves, president of the NMHU Foundation,” Martinez said. He said the new Emeritus and Retired Faculty Association already has more than 20 members, and would like to have 40-plus active members in its ranks.The association is working to build its membership, with the help of the university’s Office of Institutional Advancement. To date, approximately 85 emeritus and retired faculty have been identified as potential members. The association will hold a social meeting this summer. Its first official meeting will be in October. Emeritus and retired faculty from Highlands University interested in joining the association may contact Rose Ellen Martinez at 505-454-3248 or rosemartinez@nmhu.edu