Photo: Margaret McKinney/Highlands University
Highlands President Jim Fries, LouElla Marr-Montoya, and Merideth Hmura listen to a speaker at the Sept. 19 dedication for the Viles & Crimmin Residence Hall. Marr-Montoya is the Viles Foundation president and Hmura is the secretary.
Las Vegas, NM — The Viles & Crimmin Residence Hall at Highlands University was dedicated Sept. 19 in honor of generous benefactors who helped make the dream of a college education possible by funding nearly a thousand student scholarships over the years.
In its 56-year history, the Viles Foundation that Matie Viles established has awarded nearly 500 scholarships to Highlands University students, for a total of approximately $1.25 million.
Since its inception in 1985, the endowed Ken and Sue Crimmin Scholarship Fund has granted scholarships to approximately 4oo Highlands students, for a total of more than $600,000.
Viles and both the Crimmins are deceased.
“Matie Viles and Ken and Sue Crimmin exemplify generosity, vision and a passionate commitment to the importance of scholarships for student success,” said Jim Fries, Highlands University president. “The university greatly appreciates their commitment to education.”
“Over the past half century, Matie Viles’ gift of an education has enriched the lives of hundreds of students and their families,” said LouElla Marr-Montoya, Viles Foundation president and Highlands Alumni Board member. “Highlands has recognized an exceptional woman and her generosity in a tangible way through this building dedication. It’s a fitting tribute to Emiteria “Matie” Martínez Robinson Viles and we are thankful.”
The 5-year renewable Viles Foundation scholarships are granted to students from San Miguel and Mora counties who have lost one or more parents. Viles was an orphan herself.
The Ken and Sue Crimmin Scholarship Fund is earmarked for seniors graduating from West Las Vegas High School and Robertson High School.
“I was the executor for Mr. Crimmin’s estate, and he was determined that their money be used to help local students achieve their educational goals,” said Chris Martínez, adviser and past chairperson for the Ken and Sue Crimmin Scholarship Committee. “He loved the Las Vegas community and wanted to give back through the scholarship endowment. The beauty of this scholarship is that we just use the interest on the endowment and never touch the principal.”
“After an initial gift of $130,000, the Crimmin fund grew to a $200,000 endowment,” said Darlene Chí¡vez, development finance officer for the university’s foundation. “The Crimmin endowment is a powerful example of how one family’s investment can grow over time and have a tremendous impact on so many students’ lives.”
Viles and her husband, George “Skipper” Viles, operated a dude ranch 26 miles north of Pecos, New Mexico called Mountain View Ranch. When her husband died, Viles found herself wealthy and she established the scholarship foundation.
Ken Crimmin joined the U.S. Army in the late 1930s on the brink of World War II. When the Army established Camp Luna in Las Vegas, Crimmin managed the commissary. His wife, Sue Crimmin, joined him in Las Vegas and worked for many years at Highlands. Later, Ken purchased the Las Vegas Credit Bureau, which he operated profitably for many years.
The university’s state-of-the art residence hall opened in 2009 and houses 276 students in 89 apartment-style units. In 2010, the 100,000-square-foot residence hall was the first in the state to achieve LEED silver certification, a high-level measure of green building practices and sustainability.
The Highlands University Board of Regents voted unanimously at its Dec. 21, 2012, meeting to name the residence hall for Matie Viles and Ken and Sue Crimmin.