When I say to people how “humbled and honored” I am to be serving the students, faculty and staff as Northern New Mexico College’s next president, I promise they are not just words.
After 24 years in service to the United States Air Force, there is nowhere on the planet my wife, Diana, and I would rather be. We have been excited about moving to New Mexico for as long as I can remember, so the opportunity to serve Northern is truly a blessing.
My family has a strong personal connection to northern New Mexico, and to the college in particular. My wife’s mother hails from Anton Chico, and we still have family in Las Vegas, Los Alamos and Albuquerque.
Our aunt Fabiola studied at the El Rito campus back when Northern was the Spanish-American Normal School. She still remembers washing dishes to pay for classes, learning etiquette from the school’s dietitian, and speaking Spanish in the dorms to help girls from Chicago and New York who were there studying to be language teachers.
She also brags about having as her music teacher the great Pablo Mares, who in 1947 wrote “New Mexico – Mi Lindo Nuevo Mexico,” which later became the state’s official bilingual song.
I know that we have some big challenges ahead. These are difficult financial times nationwide and for northern New Mexico. Education is always important but, when times are difficult, education can be transformative – the rising tide that lifts all boats.
Let me explain. I was the first in my family to go to college. My wife was the first in her family. Although our parents had the desire to attend college, their families’ financial situations made it difficult for them at the time. They fought hard, however, to offer us a different path.
Now, years later, we are living proof that, with a quality education, anything is possible, as here I am now ready to assume the duties of a college president.
I will fight to give aspiring students in northern New Mexico the same opportunities that we have had. Their successes will be the college’s successes, and together we can build a bright and prosperous future for both Northern New Mexico College and our community.
I had the great pleasure of being at Northern for Convocation Week activities a few weeks ago. I met with most of our academic departments, interacted with our new students, stood in awe during basketball drills, and chatted with many of our community’s government and business leaders. In all of those meetings, one common characteristic stood out: optimism. Everyone I met exuded a sense of hope and excitement for our future together.
It is true that we do have challenges ahead, but we also have amazing opportunities. Every single person at Northern New Mexico College has a profound love and respect for our students. No matter what they do and no matter what job they perform at Northern, I am convinced that all of our faculty and staff are dedicated to our students’ success. I simply could not ask for more as an incoming president.
I start my new position on Monday, Oct. 17. I pledge to work to support our students, faculty and staff with humility, transparency and respect. I also hope to cultivate even stronger relationships between the college and our community. Northern New Mexico College is your college. We know that we exist to serve the educational, cultural and economic needs of the region, and I look forward to hearing from you about how we can better serve our students and our area.
Again, it is an honor to be joining such an amazing team and community, and I look forward to working together with you to create opportunities of success for our students and for all of northern New Mexico.
Richard J. Bailey Jr., Ph.D., will take over as president of Northern New Mexico College on Oct. 17.