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Regents Name Residence Hall for Scholarship Benefactors


Matie Viles and Ken and Sue Crimmin Residence Hall

Las Vegas, N.M. – The new residence hall at New Mexico Highlands University has been named for three generous benefactors who funded hundreds of scholarships for the university’s students over the years.

The Highlands University Board of Regents voted unanimously at its Dec. 21 meeting to name the residence hall for Matie Viles and Ken and Sue Crimmin.

“Naming the residence hall for these individuals, who had a passion for education, honors their ongoing educational legacy to the university and its students in a visible and permanent way,” said Jim Fries, Highlands University president. “The university greatly appreciates their commitment to education.”

Viles and both the Crimmins are deceased.

Emiteria “Matie” Martinez Robinson Viles established the Viles Foundation in 1958 to make the dream of a college education possible for youth of San Miguel and Mora counties who have had one or more of their parents die. Viles was an orphan herself.

Viles and her husband, George “Skipper” Viles, operated a dude ranch 26 miles north of Pecos, N.M. called Mountain View Ranch. When her husband died, Viles used her husband’s investments to establish the scholarship foundation.

Since its inception, the Viles Foundation has awarded more than $1.2 million in scholarships to more than 450 Highlands University students.

Board of Regents Vice Chairman Jesus López, whose father died when he was 10, was one of those students. He was awarded a Viles scholarship in 1969. López made both the recommendation and the motion during the regent’s Dec. 21 meeting to name the residence hall.

“Like so many struggling students, this scholarship helped me through Highlands,” López said. “I’m so very proud that we were able to help honor such deserving benefactors as Matie Viles and Ken and Sue Crimmin. It is one of the highlights in my service as a regent.”

After graduating from Highlands, López earned his juris doctorate from the University of New Mexico School of Law. He has been a Las Vegas attorney for 35 years and is a former district attorney. He serves as legal counsel for San Miguel and Guadalupe counties.

López’ history is also intertwined with Ken and Sue Crimmin.   

“As a young attorney in 1985, I helped the Crimmins with the legal documents to establish the scholarship endowment,”  López said. “They were a wonderful couple.”

The Crimmin’s endowment was created through the university’s foundation with a deposit of $130,000. The scholarship is earmarked for West Las Vegas High School and Robertson High School graduates who attend Highlands. Since 1987, the endowment has awarded 407 scholarships totaling $566,571.

Ken Crimmin joined the U.S. Army in the late 1930s and achieved the rank of captain. When the Army established Camp Luna in Las Vegas, Crimmin was assigned to manage the commissary. Sue joined him and worked for many years at Highlands. Later, Ken purchased the Las Vegas Credit Bureau, which he operated profitably for a number of years.

Fries said that a plaque honoring Matie Viles and Ken and Sue Crimmin will be placed within the residence hall. The sign on the building may include a shortened name, perhaps the Viles Crimmin Residence Hall. The regents will make the final decision.

The university’s state-of-the art residence hall opened in 2009 and houses 276 students in 89 apartment style units. In 2010, the 100,000-square-foot residence hall was the first in the state of achieve LEED silver certification, a high-level measure of green building practices and sustainability.

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