Highlands University Celebrates Faculty for Teaching and Scholarship

September 2, 2022

New Mexico Highlands University kicked off the fall semester by honoring university faculty at an event Wednesday evening. Faculty members were acknowledged for their teaching and scholarship and for going above and beyond during the last few challenging years. President Sam Minner expressed his particular admiration for the scope of research and grants faculty have collectively managed to achieve despite the challenges presented by the pandemic.

The celebration was hosted by President Minner, Dr. Roxanne Gonzales, and student regent Chris Ulibarri.

In his opening remarks, President Minner expressed his gratitude for being able to host the event in person for the first time in three years. He acknowledged the breadth and scope of the work faculty members do on campus and thanked them for their commitment to teaching and research.

“Fundamentally, we do two things—we teach the truth as we know it, and we make new knowledge. You’re not in the club, you’re not an academic unless you do those two things—and all of you are, and I thank you sincerely for that,” Minner said. “Many of you in this room today could work anywhere, but you choose to be here, consistent with our mission and our demography. Thank you so much.”

Because the pandemic prevented the celebration of faculty excellence, faculty members were recognized for their promotion and tenure from 2019 to 2022. The faculty members honored for tenure and promotion to associate professors during these years included Peter Buchanan, Juan Gallegos, Anna Koch, Ali Arshad, Paul “PJ” Sedillo, Lauren Fath, Angela Meron, Rebecca Alvarez, Blanca Cespedes, Kevin Ensor, and Norma Valenzuela. Faculty members promoted to professor during these years included Gil Gallegos, Gloria Gadsden, Seonsook Park, Taik Kim, and Ali Arshad.

“Promotion and tenure set the standard; it’s not easy to get promoted and get tenure,” Dr. Roxanne Gonzales said. “It’s a marker in our careers.”

Dr. Brandon Kempner, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, along with Dr. Veena Parboteeah, Dean of the School of Business, and Dr. Mary Earick, Dean of the School of Education, took turns to honor individual faculty members in their colleges. Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs & Research Dr. Ian Williamson honored students on behalf of the Facundo Valdez School of Social work. The Deans and Vice President honored faculty members for a range of accomplishments, including research, book publications, grant writing, and innovative teaching across all disciplines.

In addition to honoring faculty for their teaching and scholarly work, Dr. Tatianna Timofeeva, a chemistry professor in attendance at the event, was acknowledged for her recent retirement and her many contributions to Highlands University during her career. Dr. Kempner thanked Dr. Timofeeva for passing on the grant-writing tradition to Dr. Gil Gallegos.

Dr. Gonzales said that so much of what she heard of the faculty members’ accomplishments over the course of the evening spoke to the collective social justice work the university is dedicated to.

“What we do makes an extraordinary difference to everyone that we touch, and I thank you for that” Gonzales said.