Writer: Mark Cramer
Ricardo Jacquez, interim associate provost for academic affairs and community colleges at New Mexico State University and a Regents professor of civil engineering at NMSU, has been named the new dean of the university’s College of Engineering. Jacquez was one of five finalists selected to interview on campus and participate in candidate open forums with the campus community. He will assume the office on April 1.
“For our college to move forward and prosper, I believe it is important that our new dean be an effective, collaborative leader,” said Jay Jordan, NMSU interim executive vice president/provost. “He must have the ability to recruit individuals with widely differing philosophies, disciplines, cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and form purposeful, motivated teams that can achieve any reasonable goals that we collectively set while helping to overcome any obstacles that we are likely to encounter along the way. Dr. Jacquez has demonstrated this ability throughout most of his career.”
During his career, Jacquez earned a reputation for broadening student opportunities, establishing important pathways to graduate studies, providing research and transfer assistance to community college students and providing underrepresented high school students reasons to aspire to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) post-secondary education. He has served as a board member of the New Mexico Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (NM MESA) program, co-chair of the NMSU STEM Education Working Group and faculty adviser to the American Indian Science and Engineering Society.
“I am honored and excited to be selected as dean of the college of engineering at New Mexico State University,” said Jacquez. “I take pride in knowing that through the land-grant mission of the institution, the College of Engineering not only contributes to the fulfillment of the educational dreams of the citizens of the state, it also works to create the dreams and follows through with the promise and commitment to fulfill these dreams. My priority is a commitment to the vision of moving the college forward as a competitive engineering program and to working collaboratively with the college leadership team, the faculty and staff and students to move the college to the next level of excellence. I look forward to continuing the college’s tradition of adding value to the students who enroll in our programs, rewarding faculty who come to engineering with dreams and aspirations to succeed as teachers and researchers and providing development opportunities to college staff who aspire to be members of a successful organization.”
In November 2007 he received the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring, a White House initiative managed by the National Science Foundation.
In addition, Jacquez’s accomplishments include:
- Serving as founding director of the New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation, the New Mexico AMP Bridge to the Doctorate, the Collaborative for Excellence in Teacher Preparation, the Hewlett Foundation Engineering Schools of the West Initiative, the Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics Scholarship Program and the STEM Talent Expansion Program.
- Serving for 10 years as the education director of the DOE-funded Waste-management Education and Research Consortium (WERC) during which time he led the effort to establish the master’s degree in environmental engineering at NMSU.
- Serving as founding adviser for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) student chapter at NMSU, one of the first student chapters in the nation. Under his leadership, the chapter established the NMSU SHPE Career Fair and was recognized on two occasions as the National Outstanding Student Chapter of the Year.
- Developing and implementing, with the New Mexico AMP team, the Freshmen Integrated Learning Communities project in the College of Engineering, a program to improve retention and progression of engineering students. Jacquez has served as principal investigator for grants totaling more than $25 million, with the majority of these efforts focused on the mentoring and professional development of community college and university students throughout New Mexico.
“Through Dr. Jacquez’s efforts, numerous students – many from groups underrepresented in engineering, math and science – are now successful engineers, mathematicians and scientists,” Jordan said. “Many of these are the first in their family to have earned a bachelor’s degree. He has truly helped extend the opportunity of attaining a technical college education to the sons and daughters of the working class.”
In 2004, Jacquez’s peers recognized his efforts and contributions in this area by awarding him the NMSU Regents Professorship.
Jacquez earned his doctorate in civil engineering in 1976 from Virginia Tech. He also holds a master’s and bachelor’s in civil engineering, both from New Mexico State. He began his career as an environmental engineering researcher, before developing a passion for discovering and understanding factors that influence young minds to pursue mathematical and technical paths.