By Tiffany Acosta
After spending 34 years on the campus of New Mexico State University as a faculty member, Ricardo Jacquez is retiring at the end of July. He has been dean of the College of Engineering for the past five years.
“I have enjoyed 34 years at NMSU,” he said. “In academia we touch and influence many lives, not just students, faculty and staff as well. It’s been my pleasure to have worked for or on behalf of all of the individuals whose paths I have intersected with.”
In his career, Jacquez has served as a principal investigator on more than 30 grants totaling about $40 million.
“Dean Jacquez has been an important figure on this campus for many years and we will all miss his dedication to the college and its students, his thoughtfulness, and his commitment to the mission of New Mexico State University,” said NMSU Executive Vice President and Provost Daniel J. Howard. “It has been a privilege to work with him, and I wish him every success as he enters this new phase of his life and career.”
Jacquez is the founding director of the New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation and the New Mexico AMP Bridge to the Doctorate program. With a mission of increasing the enrollment, quality of education, and graduation rate of historically underrepresented minority students (URM) in STEM fields, New Mexico AMP was established in 1993.
Since the program’s inception, the number of baccalaureate degrees awarded to underrepresented minorities in STEM areas has more than doubled, from 253 (24 percent of the total STEM degrees awarded) in 1992-1993 to 779 (44 percent of the total STEM degrees awarded) in 2012-2013, with a total of 9,388 STEM degrees awarded over the life of the program. The estimated economic value to New Mexico from these degrees is approximately $43 million per year.
“When we first started the program, we never envisioned that we would exist for 20-plus years the way we have,” Jacquez said. “This program is important because it provides educational opportunities for students who may not otherwise have the opportunity to go to college. The program provides direct student support to enable students to attend academic year and summer enrichment activities without unnecessary loss of income.”
“The program was designed and implemented to provide educational opportunities for the citizens of New Mexico. Young people who aspire to be engineers, who aspire to be scientists, and aimed very specifically at the underrepresented communities,” Jacquez said.
The licensed civil engineer isn’t going to relax just yet. He has accepted the position of dean with the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Construction Management at California State University, Chico.
“I have many great experiences and memories of NMSU that will serve as a foundational base for my new position at Chico,” he said.
In 2007 President George W. Bush and the National Science Foundation recognized Jacquez with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) award. In 2012, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ Commission on Access, Diversity and Excellence for his contributions to increasing diversity and access in higher education.
A Las Cruces native and graduate of Las Cruces High School, Jacquez attended NMSU from 1966-1973 and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering. He earned his doctorate in civil engineering from Virginia Tech in 1976, before he returned to NMSU as a faculty member in 1981.