HU Athletics

Your gifts help support equipment, scholarships, and travel, the tools for a chance at RMAC Championships, National Championship runs, and successful careers for our student-athletes after graduation.

Dean Farmer Student Emergency Fund

This fund assists Highlands students who have experienced significant and unexpected emergencies. It continues to be instrumental in helping our at-risk students who are acutely feeling the hardships brought on by COVID-19.

NMHU Rugby Team Reaches National Finals! Help Support Their Championship Quest!

vatosDear Highlands Alumni and Friends,

The NMHU Rugby Team, the Vatos, will defend their 2016 national title in the National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) Rugby 7’s Finals in Philadelphia on June 2-5.

With historic graduating and winning rates of more than 75%, our team has seen great success, and is currently ranked in the top 25 teams nationally, regardless of division or organization. They have also been self-supporting throughout their 25 year history, raising their own funds to compete and travel as an NMHU club sport.

This spring the Vatos did their part to defend their title, going an amazing 4-1 at the Midwest Qualifier Tournament in New Orleans!

Now, these student athletes need your help to get to the big show in Philadelphia. Their many appreciative NMHU fans also need your help to cheer them on and add to the climate of quality and value at NMHU.

Please consider a gift to help support the Vatos’ travel expenses to Philadelphia. It will cost approximately $11,000 for our team of 15 student athletes to get to the national finals.

We know that our entire campus community – students, faculty, and staff – are behind the Vatos, and are excited to help them strive for a third national championship over 248 other NSCRO schools!

You can help with a gift of any size. Our campus community is already making gifts in support of this exciting opportunity for our dedicated student athletes. 

Donations can be sent to:

NMHU Foundation
Attn: Vatos
Kennedy Alumni Hall
Box 9000
Las Vegas, NM 87701

Gifts can also be made online by clicking the button below. Please indicate that the gift is for the Vatos in the ‘Designation’ field. Please consider making your gift by May 31st.



We hope you are as proud of our team as we are.
If you are near to our main campus, you can also show your NMHU pride by sporting Vatos gear, available soon in the Student Union Building Bookstore. 

  Go Vatos!!


Sam Minner, President
William Hayward, Coach
Earl Smith, Vatos President


HU-HIPs Campaign Reaches Goal for Endowment to Boost Student Success

The Highlands University Foundation met its goal to raise $250,000 in private money to increase high-impact practices that boost student success.

The New Mexico Higher Education Department will now provide a 2:1 match, creating a permanent $750,000 endowment.

“Highlands is known for actively engaging students in high-impact learning like undergraduate research and internships,” said said Highlands University President Sam Minner. “Our successful HIPs initiative will further enhance that reputation, and increase our students’ academic achievement.”

Other examples of high-impact practices include service learning, community-based projects, study abroad experiences, and first-year seminars and learning communities through linked courses like Highlands initiated for all freshman in fall 2015.

Minner said that often the most transformative learning happens outside the classroom and textbooks, when students’ knowledge is applied.

“When a student works side-by-side with a great professor in a research lab, a studio or some field setting, that experience is powerful and never forgotten. This endowment will help us provide the best possible faculty development opportunities which, in turn, will mean even more highly engaging learning opportunities for our students,” Minner said.

Vice President of Advancement Theresa Law said that the endowment is a permanent funding source, with Highlands receiving the interest earned each year on the $750,000 corpus, which is not touched.

“We’re very grateful to the Highlands Foundation for providing the lead donation to this match campaign,” Law said. “More than 100 donors participated in the campaign including alumni, faculty, staff, businesses, community groups and other friends of Highlands.”

Law said the without this broad-based support the fundraising goal would not have been met, and the rare state funding opportunity would have been lost.

“The university is extremely thankful for the donors’ generosity,” Law said.

Diana Marrs directs the new Center for Teaching Excellence at Highlands that was established fall semester 2015. She helped write the HU-HIPs proposal that was submitted to the New Mexico Higher Education Department for consideration.

“I am very excited that we will be able to increase best practices instruction at Highlands, and thereby make our students more successful,” Marrs said.

Marrs outlined some of the plans the Center for Teaching Excellence has for using the endowment for faculty development at Highlands:

  • Develop a faculty-to-faculty mentorship program where faculty experienced in conducting undergraduate research with their students share their knowledge with faculty who want to begin their own undergraduate research projects.
  • Provide professional development and support for professors teaching in the freshman learning communities and first-year seminars.
  • Work with the Department of English to increase writing assignments across all disciplines, which Marrs said helps students succeed in all their academic endeavors.
  • Bring in additional resources ranging from hiring outside consultants to purchasing books and webinars on high-impact practices, as well as send faculty to intensive HIPs trainings.
  • The university is looking for ways to expand study abroad and service opportunities for students. Faculty new to these efforts will receive training to learn how to lead these initiatives.

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. davesgd@yahoo.com.

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.

Legacy Makers Honored

On December 6, 2012, the NMHU Foundation honored our Legacy Makers. These individuals and families and institutions have selflessly given of their time and resources to NMHU and to improve the lives of thousands of students over the years.


Sam and Ethel Ballen 

Owners of the La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, Sam also served on the NMHU Foundation Board and was a strong supporter of NMHU programs. Sam and Ethel understood that the heart of education was the teacher in the classroom and the interaction with students. To that end, the Ballens established the Ballen Visiting Professor Award.


Dr. Robert Bell and Dr. Stirling Puck 

As an avid scholar and collector of art prints, Robert Bell has enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship with artists and others in the Highlands community.  As a result, Highlands has a print collection more extensive than most major research universities possess.  Dr. Bell’s quarterly lectures on the print collection attract both students and community members.  Dr. Puck, a research scientist, has collaborated in donations to Highlands.


Ken and Sue Crimmin 

Sue Crimmin worked for many years for New Mexico Highlands University and Ken Crimmin purchased the Las Vegas Credit Bureau.  The Ken and Sue Crimmin Scholarship is restricted to graduating seniors from Robertson High School and West Las Vegas High School.  During the past 25 years this fund has been in operation, the Cimmin Scholarship has financially supported approximately 240 students.


Ivan J. Hilton

In 1949, Ivan Hilton organized the First National Bank and served as both president and chief executive officer for many years. Through the years, he served as state senator, mayor of Las Vegas, board member and chairman of New Mexico Normal University and Highlands University Board of Regents, president of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and member of the State Highway Commission. The Hilton Science Center is dedicated in his honor for his years of service to the university and the community, and sits on land he gifted to NMHU.


Ilfeld Family 

Helping Highlands was only one of many contributions the Ilfeld family made. The most iconic building on campus is the Ilfeld Auditorium used for campus and community events such as dramatic and musical performances, lecture series, movies and other special events.


Mike and Patricia Koldyke

Founders of the Golden Apple Awards and the Academy for Urban School Leadership in Chicago, the Koldykes are passionate supporters of education for all. Of particular concern to them are educational opportunities for Native American students.  They have been very supportive of Highlands’ athletic programs.  Mike Koldyke has served on the NMHU Foundation board and the


Levenson Family

As local bankers, the Levenson family has been long-time community benefactors; supporting Highlands, its students and programs generously. Robert Levenson has been succeeded by his son, Greg, as President of Southwest Capital Bank, formerly known as the Bank of Las Vegas. The Levensons recently established The Cowgirl Way Endowment providing scholarships for NMHU women athletes.  Greg has recently joined the NMHU Foundation board.


Los Alamos National Security, LLC

Other than their role as a national laboratory, a key goal of the Los Alamos enterprise is the support and development of New Mexico communities.  An important part of this effort is the encouragement of students to gain education and experience.  Additionally, LANL has established a five-year $500,000 contribution for staff development activities for NMHU faculty.


Ray and Joyce Litherland

Ray Litherland serves on the Foundation board. The couple supports the Middle School Teachers Initiative, which empowers New Mexico educators to better reach students at one of the most critical times in their school years.  The Middle School Teacher’s endowment is for middle school teachers to pursue their master degrees in education.  The Litherlands and Community 1st Bank have contributed to educational, academic and special programs of the university.


Frank and Kathleen Marchi

These Highlands alumni love the university and do all they can to enhance its service to students and to New Mexico.  Frank has served on the NMHU Foundation board since its inception, and is now an emeriti member of the Foundation since his appointment by Governor Susana Martinez to the NMHU Board of Regents.


Colonel William Salman Family

At a time when private scholarships for Highlands’ students were uncommon, Colonel Salman annually provided support to a dozen to 20 students. Colonel Salman moved to northern New Mexico after World War II and restored the divided Romero Land Grant which became the Salman Raspberry Ranch, still in operation. His family runs the raspberry fields and the ranch itself.


Leveo and Patricia Sanchez

Leveo Sanchez has devoted much of the past 30 years to overseeing the well-being of the University. Mr. Sanchez is president of the NMHU Board of Regents having been appointed by Governor Bill Richardson. He was a member of the original foundation board and served for 21 years, 12 of them as board president.  He has personally funded such projects as summer readiness programs for entering freshmen, multiple scholarship endowments, and special projects of the foundation in support of the university.


Carmen Schein

Carmen Schein chose Highlands as a partner in her goal to help poor but deserving Indonesians get the education necessary to help their country modernize and develop economically.  Mrs. Schein did not attend Highlands, but a brief encounter as she traveled to establish her first home in New Mexico led to her support of the university.


Lorraine Schula

Lorraine Schula was a native of Grand Prairie, Texas but lived most of her adult life in Albuquerque, arriving in the mid-1930s to attend UNM. She became an employee of the U.S. Forest Service and was an amateur artist and collector of the arts. Upon her death she left a number of bequests to the visual arts programs of the smaller universities in New Mexico, including Highlands.


Taichert Family

A pioneer Las Vegas merchant family, the Taicherts made a significant donation to help bring outstanding scholars to Highlands to interact with faculty and students. The Taicherts were local merchants who owned a clothing store on Douglas Avenue. Their heirs donated the building to the NMHU Foundation, and it was sold for approximately $100,000. This was matched by the state, dollar for dollar, and the proceeds founded an endowed scholarship.


George Talbot and Dr. Sheryl Talbot

Dr. George Talbot and Dr. Robert Bell were classmates at Yale Medical School and formed a lifelong friendship. In the years since their time at Yale, Dr. George Talbot left academia to become a consultant, and Dr. Sheryl Talbot has retired from her immunology and allergy practice. For many years the two families have shared their love of prints and posters with the university to the great benefit of our art department and all of NMHU’s students.


Emiteria Martinez Robinson Viles

Emiteria, affectionately known as “Matie,” was adopted by the Elizabeth and Isaiah Robinson family after the death of her parents and grandparents. When her husband died in 1950, Matie decided to use the money he had made in the stock market to help young girls who were orphaned have opportunities that she did not. In 1959, the first scholarships with her goals in mind were awarded in Matie’s name.


Beverly Washburn

Longtime teacher Lottie Wood Washburn’s educational legacy continues through a $1 million endowment her son, Beverly W. Washburn, a successful engineer, established with the New Mexico Highlands University Foundation.  Each year, the Lottie Wood Washburn Endowment is expected to fund scholarships for residents in and around Raton, Wagon Mound, and the former coal camps of Sugarite and Van Houten, who attend Highlands University.


John Wilson

John Wilson was the founding president of the NMHU Foundation who set a high standard for those that followed through both his leadership and philanthropy. He was a graduate of Highlands University where he received his bachelor of arts degree and later his masters’s degree in industrial arts. He became a manager in the Tandy Company in 1951. He became president of the Tandy Corporation in 1974 and later became president of the board for Color Tile, Inc. NMHU’s gymnasium is named in his honor.