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HU To Celebrate Three Big Birthdays


Happy birthday Highlands! At 120, you’re looking good. Innovative classes, inspiring professors, a sound environmental philosophy and award-winning students continue the legacy of a college that started in 1893 with a faculty of 12, five departments and 92 students.

Happy 90th, Ilfeld Auditorium! As a venue for performances of every stripe, you can’t be beat. Thanks to Charles Ilfeld, whose gift in memory of Adele got it all started. 

Hats off to the HU Foundation! For 30 years, your scholarships and support have opened the doors of education to deserving students.

Faculty, staff and students invite alumni and community members to join them in a triple-header birthday celebration during Homecoming 2013. A variety of events are in development under the direction of Dr. Sharon Caballero, Director of Advancement.

“Highlands University, Ilfeld Auditorium and the Foundation will be showcased in entertaining and interesting ways,” Caballero said. “We’re combining HU pride and the spirit of community to assure a memorable experience for all who attend.”

She pointed out that from its early days, Highlands focused on providing opportunity and accessibility to higher education, with the university building its reputation over the years as the leading academic and cultural center for Northern New Mexico. It continues to enhance this reputation by rapidly becoming a leader in environmentally friendly construction with several buildings meeting LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

“When you look at the changes in the campus, you can see how Highlands is demonstrating its commitment to a cleaner environment, water conservation and making best use of nature’s energy sources,” Caballero said. “That’s something to celebrate.”

The recently completed residence hall is an example of Highlands’ determination to be more environmentally responsible. The residence hall houses 276 students in 89 spacious apartment-style suites that feature private bedrooms, a kitchenette, living room, and bathrooms. The $17-million structure was completed within budget and on time, meeting the pressing need for additional student housing. The external design incorporates elements of the distinctive Spanish colonial architectural style common on campus. Two landscaped plazas and a third-floor terrace create inviting spaces for outdoor enjoyment. The residence hall has numerous green features, earning a LEED Silver certification. Cisterns capture rainwater to help water the drought-tolerant landscaping.

During a recent renovation at the Felix Martinez Building, a water-capturing system was installed to help preserve one of New Mexico’s most valuable natural resources.

The new student union building at the corner of University and Eighth is a contemporary three-story design that uses stone as the building base, with full-height glazed glass panels to provide light for the main public spaces. A metal panel system along the exterior perimeter completes the building skin. Louvered exterior shades make best use of the sun’s energy throughout the day. The building was designed to LEED Silver specification.

“The university’s 120 years of educating students continues to expand its reach with the help of friends and donors,” Caballero said. “Through these efforts, Highlands has several projects to promote the success of students at the university, and students across the state.

“The HU Foundation received a single donation of one million dollars from B.W. Washburn in honor of his mother, Lottie Wood Washburn, to support the educational ambitions of the people of Raton and the surrounding counties. Southwest Capital Bank and Community 1st Bank of Las Vegas have each committed $100,000 to the students of the university and projects throughout the year. The Cowgirl Way Endowment, sponsored by Southwest Capital Bank, supports women student athletes through scholarships. The School of Education’s Center for Professional Development concentrates on middle school education with a long-term plan to add more outreach in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math education, bilingual education, and civic education, as funds become available.

“Recently a professor emeritus, Dr. Gerald Meyer, contributed $70,000 for student scholarships in the sciences. These initiatives and the donors who support them represent a few of the many reasons Highlands is celebrating in October during Homecoming,” Caballero said.

Among the events planned during birthday week will be a women’s jazz ensemble performing at the historic Ilfeld Auditorium, which at 90, is the oldest building on campus.

Ilfeld Auditorium has been described as the last great expression in monumental sandstone. Las Vegas business tycoon Charles Ilfeld contributed funds to build the auditorium in memory of his wife, Adele. It has been declared to be New Mexico’s finest example of Romanesque revival style, typified by heavy arches and simple Tuscan columns. 

Ilfeld Auditorium has hosted a wide variety of entertainment over the years and continues to serve the university and the community as the premier location for concerts and theatrical performances. Cineflix at Ilfeld, which features free movies each week, has brought new patrons into this distinguished setting. Renovated several years ago the 700-seat theater is known for its outstanding performance space, fine acoustics and elegant design.

Other events will be held in the auditorium throughout the week, highlighted on Friday evening when Ilfeld will host the opening party prior to tours of the student union building, its glass and stone edifice a testament to imaginative design. 

Contractor Larry Franken of Franken Construction said the new SUB makes a bold statement about the university and its appeal to students in today’s fast-paced, media-driven world: “The future is here, and New Mexico Highlands University is part of it.”

One description of the student union building calls it the living room of the campus. The tour will include a look at the ultramodern structure and all it has to offer, such as a dining facility for residence halls that features a state-of-the art kitchen and windows on the world, with large panels of glass that provide panoramic views of the campus and the community.

During the evening food stations will be located on every floor featuring a variety of heavy hors d’oeuvres and hundreds of birthday cupcakes. 

“The party in October is the culmination of activities through the year, commemorating the university’s legacy,” Caballero said. “It begins with the class of 2013. These students will receive medallions signifying they are in the 120th birthday graduating class.”

In July, a cowboy and ranchero celebration will be held, featuring cowboy sculptor Duke Sundt, descendent of M.M. Sundt, builder of Ilfeld Auditorium. Sundt will be reciting from the works of western literary icon Baxter Black. Other performers will be bringing a range of entertainment to the stage.

“On Wednesday during Homecoming week, Kennedy Gallery will open for the first time, featuring original art work donated to the university by Dr. Robert Bell and Dr. George Talbot,” Caballero said. “This event pays tribute to the donors of the collection and introduces the community to the newly created gallery space.” 

It also gives alumni and friends an opportunity to learn more about the Foundation, an entity that has awarded nearly $20 million in scholarships since its formation.

These are the highlights of an event-filled week celebrating education, student success, an outstanding faculty, dedicated staff and a solid reputation as the leading academic and cultural center for Northern New Mexico.

“As New Mexico Highlands University celebrates its 120th year, the HU Foundation is taking this opportunity to invite alumni, students and the community to join in the celebration,” Dr. Caballero, said. “We’re grateful to all who have given most generously in the past to support the students, faculty, programs and projects that make our university a strong and vibrant academic community.

“Because of this generosity, nearly $20 million has been gifted, distributed or placed in endowments for Highlands. Now, with more than $9 million in assets, the HU Foundation continues to award more than $200,000 in scholarships annually, and fund special projects and programs of the university.

“Our birthday party in October is a way for you to be part of making a student’s dreams come true. Your gifts do make a difference to a new generation of students,” Caballero said.

Tickets for the Friday birthday party, which includes the celebratory toast at Ilfeld preceding the tour of the SUB, are $100 per person. The evening will include hors d’oeuvres and entertainment.  A portion of ticket sales will be set aside for scholarships. For more information, contact the Foundation at 505.454.3248.

“Our great stories keep growing every day, but success doesn’t just happen,” Caballero said. “It takes the combined effort of motivated students, dedicated faculty, and the ongoing generosity of our alumni and friends. Your tax-deductible gift is an investment in a most valuable asset: our future.” CW

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