New Mexico Junior was the first independent junior college in New Mexico. It took ten years of hard work from dedicated volunteer to work with the state legislature to enact the 1963 Junior College Act, allowing independent community colleges. We are proud to be the first, and strive to continue to one of the best two-year colleges in the Southwest, with an excellent education and rewarding experiences for our students.
The timeline below is taken from the book "New Mexico Junior College - Since 1965" by Jim Harris (available in the NMJC bookstore), and other resources. As you read it, and you know of additional events to add, please contact the office of communications at email@example.com or 575-492-2781.
1965 – New Mexico Junior College is established through the 1963 Junior College Act, becoming the first independent junior college in New Mexico. H. C. Pannell was selected as the first President of the college. Founding board members are Ferrell Caster, Finis Heidel, George Mansur, Roy L. McLean and Finn Watson.
November 20, 1966 – Inaugural open house and dedication ceremony
|New Mexico Junior College is now a reality, thanks to the untiring efforts of so many who have done so much to make this possible. This institution is destined to play a vital and most historic role in the educational history of New Mexico, especially this southeastern area… May youth for generations to come gather here to receive the very best in educational opportunities. H.C. Pannell, President|
Ben Alexander reminded the audience at the college's opening, of the heroic and tireless effort of hundreds of volunteers who pursued the Junior College enabling legislation and the establishment of the NMJC. He then spoke of his promise to Governor Jack Campbell
Governor Campbell, I want to assure you that this Junior College District is going to set the kind of example for the Junior College movement in the great State of New Mexico that will make you very proud to have been responsible for the Junior College enabling legislation for the State of New Mexico. Ben Alexander, Chairman, Junior College Steering Committee
May 31, 1968 - First class of graduates
1968 - H. C. Pannell retires and Jodie Smith becomes the second president, serving until 1977.
February 1969 - Athletic track is completed
1969 - 1970 - North Central Association gives NMJC its first accreditation
May 1973 - Faculty names Elora Duda the first Outstanding Professor of the Year
1976 - Rodeo complex built
May 1965 - New Mexico author Tony Hillerman visits campus
October 1976 - College district votes to continue four mill levy for six years
1977 - Mary Hagelstein Instructional Arts Center opens
1977 - 1978 - Nelson Tydings serves as interim president
1978 - Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame added to Caster Activity Center
1978 - 1987 - Robert Anderson serves as third president
Fall 1987 - General Motors ASEP program begins
1987 - 1988 - Ferrell Caster serves as interim president
1988 - 1997 - Charles Hayes serves as fourth president
1988 - Construction begins on Bob Moran Energy/Technology building
1990 - Construction begins on Thunderbird Baseball field
1991 - Dormitories built: Thunderbird Hall and Zia Hall
1995 - Golf driving range building constructed
1997 - Agricultural Pavilion constructed
1997 - Law Enforcement Academy begins in Moran Hall
1997 - 1998 - John Shepherd serves as interim president
1998 - 2016 - Steve McCleery serves as fifth president
2003 - Voters with the City of Jal elected to be taxed by and receive the benefits of being a part of the junior college district
2005 - Western Heritage Museum and Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame constructed
2005 - NMJC celebrates its 40th anniversary with the opening of the remodeled Ben Alexander Student Learning Center
2008 - Training and Outreach facility building constructed
2008 - John Watson Student Apartments built
2011 - NMJC hosts the National Cross Country Championships
April 18, 2015 - NMJC celebrates its 50th anniversary with the dedication of the Ross Black Field of Champions Track and Field
June 23, 2015 - Noalmark Broadcasting donates 100.9 FM radio to NMJC (formerly KPER, now KNMJ)
July 1, 2016 - Kelvin Sharp becomes the sixth president
January 2017 - Entertainment and Music Technology program opens in Moran Hall
November 19, 2018 - Texas Tech signs an MOU with NMJC to help students transfer more easily, and provide scholarships to those students
January 2019 - New Allied Health Building opens for nursing and other healthcare training. A grand opening was held April 18, 2019.
May 2019 - NMJC hosted the NJCAA National Outdoor Track and Field championships
New Mexico Junior College occupies 243 total acres, with approximately 500,000 square ft. of building space. The campus has a student population of approximately 3,000 students and 265 full-time employees, as well as a facility count of 35 buildings, including the student apartments, the Western Heritage Museum Complex & Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame, and the Training & Outreach Facility.
New Mexico Junior College offers Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, and Associate of Applied Science degrees, along with certificates in the business and industry trades. In addition, the College offers nationally renowned NJCAA athletic programs in baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, golf, women’s cross country, and women’s track. Th e men’s and women’s rodeo program is governed by NIRA. Through its outstanding programs, staff , and services, New Mexico Junior College fills an important educational need for Lea County and the surrounding area by actively promoting success through learning.