On July 23, 1919, the Albuquerque Journal ran a letter from David S. Hill, a professor of education from the University of Illinois who was set to become UNM’s sixth president. “There are points of contact to be made between industry and business, and the university,” Hill announced in his vision statement, “in order that our graduates, whether as employees or employers, may participate as leaders in the economic field. There are the sciences and arts and best traditions of the past to be preserved, cherished, and transmitted to students who will become torch-bearers of culture in New Mexico.”
Hill arrived with radical optimism, proclaiming, “Free, public education must be made available to all persons capable of receiving it, regardless of race, sex, age, or occupation.” (Albuquerque Journal, Oct. 10, 1919) He launched a dedicated research arm of the university, the Graduate School, which offered a master’s degree.
The first decade of UNM theses focused on our unique sense of place. Carl Taylor’s 1929 MA English thesis, “Bride of the Sun,” combined romance and New Mexico regionalism; Reginald Fisher’s 1929 MA in anthropology launched “A Plan for an Archaeological Survey of the Pueblo Plateau;” Blanche Harper’s 1927 MA in political science provided “A History of New Mexico Election Laws;” and Cora Nelle Freeman studied standardized tests in small-town schools in her 1925 psychology thesis.