Aggie Ingeniero, August 2009

09_07_mccarthy_billNMSU civil engineering Professor McCarthy was advocate for students with disabilities

Dr. William C. McCarthy achieved his dream of becoming an engineer and went on to be an academic leader and mentor to students.

William C. McCarthy, civil engineering professor, administrator and advocate for students with disabilities, passed away on Tuesday, July 28.

“Bill McCarthy was a great inspiration to us all; students and faculty alike,” said Kenneth R. White, interim dean of the College of Engineering. “He was always student-oriented and put the needs of the student foremost in any decisions. I first met Bill as an undergraduate working diligently to complete the challenging curriculum in Civil Engineering in the days before NMSU or others had made accommodations for those with disabilities either physically or mentally. It was my privilege to be his adviser for his Ph.D. and mentor in his early days on our faculty. He was a primary force in making changes on the campus to help students with disabilities enter science and engineering careers.

“We will all miss Bill and miss his leadership and loyalty to the students at NMSU. He was such a role model for students in engineering at NMSU, around New Mexico and the nation.”

McCarthy was director for the Regional Alliance for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Squared (RASEM2) for students with disabilities, a National Science Foundation-funded program that he started in 1999. The first of its kind, RASEM2 is a regional alliance in New Mexico and West Texas to provide the means, support and encouragement for students with disabilities to overcome the educational barriers they face in considering science, engineering, math and technology careers. The program provides support for student mentors, holds an annual summer camp for pre-college students and conducts a teacher outreach program. McCarthy received a presidential appointment to the NSF Committee for Equal Opportunity in Science and Engineering and served as a member of the NSF Education and Human Resources Advisory Committee. He was a member and vice president of the Engineering Foundation Board of Directors.

Paralyzed in a car accident in 1966 as a senior at Las Cruces High School, McCarthy was told to abandon his dream of becoming an engineer. He achieved his dream and more. McCarthy earned his doctoral degree at NMSU in 1981 and served as a graduate assistant during his advanced studies. He was a registered professional engineer in New Mexico.

McCarthy joined the civil engineering faculty in 1981, reaching the rank of full professor in 1995. He subsequently served as associate dean of engineering, interim dean of engineering, and interim associate provost at NMSU in charge of student success and academic programs. He then returned to the civil engineering faculty in 2006. During his tenure, McCarthy received numerous awards and recognition for teaching excellence, including the Frank Bromilow Award, The Chi Epsilon Southwestern District James M. Robbins Award and the Dennis Darnall Faculty Achievement Award in 2000. He served as president of the NMSU Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi and was a member of Chi Epsilon and Tau Beta Pi Honor Societies.

“Dr. McCarthy excelled in every aspect of NMSU’s mission: teaching, research and outreach. In many ways, he represented the best that NMSU has to offer in and outside the classroom. Dr. McCathy took student advising to new levels of excellence. A leader in his area of competence, he was also nationally recognized for his advocacy and commitment to people with physical disabilities, teaching us about the many contributions that people with different abilities bring to our lives. Dr. McCarthy also served as an academic administrator in whom we found knowledge, expertise, and compassion. NMSU will always remember the smile and the legacy of this outstanding professor, exemplary citizen, and trusted friend,” said Vice President and Provost Waded Cruzado.

A scholarship honoring McCarthy is being established. For more information, call (575) 646-2913.

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