Kip Coggins Social Work Scholarship Announced

February 8, 2021

photo of Kip Coggins

Kip Coggins

Las Vegas, N.M. – New Mexico Highlands University will establish a scholarship in memory of  Kip Coggins, a professor in the Facundo Valdez School of Social Work who died Sept. 1, 2020.

The scholarship will be for undergraduate and graduate social work students who are Hispanic and/or from lower socio-economic backgrounds at Highlands.

“Dr. Coggins was a professor in the Facundo Valdez School of Social Work from 2015 to 2020,” said Cristina Durán, dean of the Facundo Valdez School of Social Work “He is remembered for his strong commitment to social justice, his many years of dedicated service in social work education as well as social work practice, and his contributions to social work scholarship.”

Those interested in donating to the Kip Coggins Scholarship may visit the New Mexico Highlands Foundation online at Scroll down and click on the “Give Now” button. Another option is to mail a check to the NMHU Foundation, Box 9000, Las Vegas, NM 87701.

Durán said Coggins, whose heritage included his Native American roots in the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa and the Grand River Band of Ottawa, was an expert in the field of indigenous social work. In addition, Coggins was a fluent Spanish-speaker and was familiar with the challenges facing families along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Dr. Coggins developed course content and material for indigenous studies. His goal was to educate and inspire students to seek knowledge beyond the classroom. He also focused on challenging students to engage in a critical thinking process about social work in ways that would support them in being successful as social workers and in passing the licensure exams,” Durán said.

Highlands social work professor Beth Massaro said Coggins brought many years of distinguished social work experience to the Facundo Valdez School of Social Work when he joined the faculty in 2015.

“Dr. Coggins taught across the curriculum at numerous other institutions of higher education such as New Mexico State University, the University of Manitoba and the University of Texas – El Paso,” Massaro said. “At Highlands, Kip served as the Master of Social Work program coordinator for three years, advised students, and led the human behavior in the social environment course sequence. He was also a longstanding member of our curriculum committee.”

Massaro said Coggins wrote a well-regarded 2016 textbook, The Practice of Social Work in North America: Culture, Context and Competency Development. It was published by Oxford University Press.

There will be a virtual memorial Feb. 12 from 6 – 7:30 p.m. to honor Kip Coggins. To find out how to join, contact Marian Vargas at

The featured speaker at the memorial will be Natalia Coggins, Kip Coggins’ wife. Other guest speakers include Sam Minner, Highlands University president, Roxanne Gonzales, vice president of academic affairs and provost, Durán, Massaro and Rey Martínez, another Highlands social work professor.

An open mic portion of the memorial will allow students, staff, faculty and community members to share thoughts, memories and tributes in honor of Kip Coggins.