Monthly Archives: April 2015

Rosa Martinez: Planning ahead for Highlands

In September, the Foundation received a one-page letter from alumna Rosa B. Martinez, who was awarded an associate of arts degree in business administration from Highlands in 1962. In the letter, she described working with an attorney on developing a living trust, the intention of which was to leave her home and property to the University on one condition: if for any reason the property was no longer in the trust’s possession at her passing, the University would receive a onetime cash distribution, instead.

“I wanted to make sure the University got something no matter what happens, and I can still sell the house if need be,” Rosa said.




Professor Amai’s endowment


Recently, after more than a decade of handing out achievement awards to outstanding chemistry students and handing financial contributions in to the Highlands Foundation, Professor Emeritus Dr. Robert Amai’s scholarship fund reached (then exceeded) the magic sum of $10,000.

“It took 14 years,” Dr. Amai confessed, “because we kept giving money out then putting money in, so it grew slowly.”

At the $10,000 level an unrestricted fund”turns into an endowed fund, meaning the corpus (literally, the “body” of a trust) is held in perpetuity. Along with dozens of endowments managed by the Highlands Foundation and totaling $6.5 million, Dr. Amai’s fund is pooled and invested. Each year the Foundation finance office determines each fund’s allocation – that is, the award amount based on an average of the fund’s three-year growth.

Every endowed scholarship and fund carries a story with it. In 2001, Dr. Amai received a $1,000 gift to the chemistry department from a former student, John Cole. Immediately, Dr. Amai and others in the department started making end-of year recognition awards for outstanding students. Dr. Amai added to the fund, inching towards the $10,000 goal. Other faculty, particularly from the sciences, started contributing.

“Then the Las Vegas Optic ran a story on the fund, and suddenly all sorts of people were mailing in contributions,” Dr. Amai said.

Bequest to the Music Program


Sometimes a university knows full well of the existence and provisions of a pending bequest. Other times the legal notification arrives unannounced; the way it happened in late February when the Foundation received documentation that the estate of Richard M. Lipe ’67 had bequeathed $37,546.46 to the Highlands University Music Program, making for four very appreciative professors.

Mr. Lipe was a member of the TKE fraternity, one of the largest intact Highlands alumni groups. Last year its members, who assembled at Highlands for a reunion, pledged to fund a $50,000 TKE Scholarship for a student from outside New Mexico.

Seeking Young Alumni

A new program established by the directors of the Highlands Foundation seeks nominations for Board membership from, or for, young alumni; “young” in this case meaning having graduated from Highlands within the past ten years.

The board thought it important to expose young graduates to how a foundation like Highlands’ operates as a separate nonprofit whose mission is to support the University. Young Alumni will be full board members, but will be limited to a single three-year term in order to provide the opportunity to one candidate each year. Young Alumni are eligible to be reelected after a one year waitout.

Letters of nomination, for oneself or another, should include a resume and a letter describing the candidate’s reasons for seeking membership, experience in nonprofits, if any, work and education history, and contact information.

Contact: Dr. Doyle Daves, chair of the nominations and governance committee.

Mandarino steps down as Alumni Affairs Director


After 12 years of leading the Office of Alumni Affairs, Jim Mandarino retired this March.

“This has truly been a wonderful journey,” Mandarino said. “Overall it’s been so rewarding.”

Mandarino graduated from Highlands in 1966 and planned to continue on to graduate school but was drafted into the military. He spent most of his military service in Germany, with a short stint in Vietnam before being discharged.

He returned to New Mexico to help his ailing parents and became active in the newly formed Highlands Alumni Association, serving as president for four years.

In 2003, the university hired him as the director of Alumni Affairs.

“We know Jim will be missed by many alumni,” said Will Wootton, New Mexico Highlands’ vice president for advancement. “But this will be an opportunity to start an exciting new chapter in the Office of Alumni Affairs.”

Mandarino will continue to work part-time as director for New Mexico Highlands’ newest gallery space, which he helped start, at Kennedy Alumni Hall. The gallery space is home to the Dr. Robert Bell Permanent Collection of Art and the Dr. George Talbot Print Study Room. This past year, Kennedy Hall featured two well-attended exhibitions: New Mexico Painters, featuring 50 artists, and an Eli Levin solo show.