Teresita Aguilar

Photo: Margaret McKinney/Highlands University

Teresita Aguilar, right, Highlands University’s new vice president of academic affairs, talks with environmental science major Marí­a Belen Muro and history professor Kristie Ross at a Feb. 6 reception in Aguilar’s honor.

Las Vegas, N.M. — The New Mexico Highlands University campus community turned out to meet Teresita Aguilar, the university’s new provost and vice president of academic affairs, at a reception Feb. 6.

The university’s Women Studies Program sponsored the reception for faculty, staff and students. Sociology professor Erika Derkus and history professor Kristie Ross co-direct the program.

“I’ve already met quite a few of the faculty and enjoyed meeting even more of them at the reception,” Aguilar said. “It was fun to meet the students, especially the seniors who are confident­ in knowing they are well prepared and have something to offer. This speaks highly of the faculty.”

Marí­a Belen Muro, an environmental science sophomore, attended the reception. Moro also serves as vice president of the student organization MEChA de Highlands University. MEChA stands for Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Aztlí¡n.

“Dr. Aguilar is really welcoming and listens well,” Muro said. “She’s seems like a very strong, smart women.”

Aguilar, a former graduate dean in the Office of Graduate Studies at the University of New Mexico from 2002 — 2005, brings more than 25 years of academic and administrative experience in higher education to her new position at Highlands.

She is a national leader in multicultural education and student success.

Most recently, Aguilar directed the Center for Mexican American Studies and Research at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio from 2010 — 2013. From 2005 — 2010, she served as OLLU’s dean of the School of Professional Studies and the Worden School of Social Work.

In previous positions, Aguilar served as associate dean in the College of Education and Integrative Studies at California State Polytechnic University — Pomona from 2000 — 2002.

Her tenure at the University of Nebraska from 1991 — 2000 included various responsibilities. Aguilar developed and taught in a Multicultural Education Program, was chair of the Graduate Program, and vice chair of the Center for Curriculum and Instruction.

Aguilar has also taught as a faculty member at Arizona State University and the University of New Mexico. She has published extensively in scholarly journals in the United States and internationally, with a focus on multicultural education, student success, and more.

“A major goal for me is to create initiatives that will enhance and improve graduation rates,” Aguilar said. “This begins with a comprehensive analysis of current policies, practices and data that have an impact on retention and graduation.”

Aguilar is a Texas native who earned her Ph.D. in higher education from the University of North Texas in Denton, where she also completed her M.S.