By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor
Rain turned Thursday’s field day at the New Mexico State University Agricultural Experiment Station in Tucumcari into an indoor gathering of community and academic leaders, local ranchers and family members.
The event’s customary hayride tour of the facility, with short lectures about advances in agricultural science at stops along the way, was scuttled as rain clattered on the roof of the show barn in which 100 people gathered for the evening of dining, socializing and learning.
The event’s speaker was new NMSU president Garrey Carruthers, a former state governor, who used the opportunity to praise and promote NMSU, the state’s premiere agricultural college.
Carruthers, who holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Iowa, received his bachelor’s degree from NMSU and said he is the first graduate of the institution, an Aggie, to serve as its president. He grew up on a dairy farm in Aztec, he said, and has been involved in agriculture all his life. He still owns a 100-acre farm in the Aztec area, he said.
At a recent gathering to help establish a brand for the NMSU, Carruthers said, the theme of discovery came up again and again, and now, the university’s tagline is “All about discovery!”
Carruthers said that is what he remembers most about his undergraduate career.
After floundering at another college, he said, he enrolled at NMSU and that’s where, he said, “I finally discovered myself. That’s what students do here.”
He also discovered and married his wife Kathy. They have been married for 54 years, he said.
Carruthers said he is proud that NMSU has opened its Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine. That addition, he said, and NMSU’s achievements in business and agriculture have led him to doubt the University of New Mexico’s “flagship” status among New Mexico colleges.
Since UNM has the “flagship” title, he said, he would consider having NMSU named the “crown jewel” of the state’s higher learning.Carruthers said he was ready to retire from the NMSU faculty, where he had taught business, economics and agriculture, when he learned about the qualifications sought for the university president’s job.
With his Ph.D. in economics, his experience in fund-raising (he was the state financial chair for President George H.W. Bush’s first campaign), and his familiarity as a former governor with state politics, he decided he was a good fit for the job and he applied.
His one piece of advice for all who attended, he said, was “don’t be afraid to fail.”
Leonard Lauriault, superintendent of the Tucumcari agricultural center, announced the recent hiring of Murali Darapuneni on his staff. Darapuneni is a semi-arid dryland cropping specialist who joined the staff on July 16.
In addition, Lauriault recognized the agricultural station’s advisory board members and sponsors of the field day event.
Advisory board members include Will Cantrell, Donald Carter, Calvin Downey, Paul Estrada, Cooper Glover, David Foote , Janet Griffiths, Bill Humphries, Herman Lopez, Franklin McCasland, Marie Nava, Jim Norris, Cedar Rush, Elmer Schuster, Tom Sidwell and Drake Swenson.
Program sponsors included the Arch Hurley Conservancy District, Box Insurance Agency, Box Irrigation, Canadian River SWCD, Citizen’s Bank, Dickinson Implement, Everyone’s Federal Credit Union, FarmCredit Services, Farmers’ Electric Coop, First National Bank of New Mexico, First Title Services, Plateau, Quay County Farmers Union, Tucumcari Federal Savings and Loan, Tucumcari General Insurance, Tucumcari Chamber of Commerce, Watkins Products, Xcel Energy and Young Insurance Agency.