Photo of Robert Vasquez

Robert Vasquez will lead the new Homeland Security course at NMHU’s Santa Fe location.

Las Vegas, New Mexico – New Mexico Highlands University is offering a new Introduction to Homeland Security course through a partnership with the Santa Fe Police Department.

Robert Vasquez, deputy chief of police of the Santa Fe Police Department and an expert in homeland security, will teach the course, which begins June 3 and continues through July 26.

The political science course will be a combination of a traditional classroom setting and online assignments. It will be taught at the Highlands Santa Fe Center at the Higher Education Center from 6 to 8 p.m. on Mondays.

“The goal of the course is to expand the way students think, inquire, analyze, gather data and evidence, and write and talk about homeland security,” Vasquez said. “Students will learn about all components of homeland security for our country and New Mexico. I think this course is important because through education, New Mexico can make more progress in homeland security.”

Elaine Rodriguez, a political science professor at Highlands, said the new course will emphasize leadership and public policy.

“This course is an opportunity to develop individuals who are more informed about the role of homeland security and can then inform communities about homeland security public policies,” Rodriguez said. “A second course Robert will teach for fall semester 2019 at Highlands is another chance to develop leadership in how to recognize and prevent terrorism and counterterrorism, especially at the domestic level.”

Introduction to Homeland Security is a prerequisite for the 16-week Terrorism and Counterterrorism course.

Vasquez has served with the Santa Fe Police Department since 1999, beginning as a patrol officer and rising through the ranks to become the deputy chief of police in July 2018. Currently, Vasquez’ primary responsibility includes the logistic and administrative support for operational personnel.

Some of his leadership positions with the SFPD include Criminal Intelligence and Analysis Center manager, captain for criminal investigations, and Region III Drug Enforcement Task Force supervisor, among others.

Earlier in his career, Vasquez served in the New Mexico Army National Guard from 1995 to 2004.

Vasquez earned a M.A. in security studies at the Naval Post Graduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security in 2018. He is also a Highlands alumnus, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2012.

“Serving on the New Mexico All-Source Intelligence Center sparked my interest in the security studies master’s degree. The main reason I want to teach this course is because Highlands gave me a strong educational foundation and I wanted to give back to the university with a new and timely education topic,” Vasquez said.

“It’s exciting to have such a highly qualified and respected individual in the law enforcement community teach this homeland security course,” said Warren Lail, interim dean of both the Highlands College of Arts and Sciences and Graduate Studies. “Robert brings a rare depth of experience and knowledge to this course. He will be an outstanding educator.”

Lail, who is also an anthropology professor and holds a law degree, was teaching a criminal justice course in Santa Fe in 2012 when he first met Vasquez in the classroom.

“Robert distinguished himself in the classroom as an articulate critical thinker who was an all-around exceptional student,” Lail said.

The Introduction to Homeland Security Class is political science course 435 for undergraduates and 535 for graduate students. Current Highlands students may enroll online at by using the MyNMHU link.

New students must enroll at Highlands first before they can register for the course. Go to and click on the future students link and then the apply link.

For admissions questions, call the Admissions Office at 505-454-3394 and for course registration questions call the Registrar’s Office at 505-454-3232.