Behind Randy Boeglin's desk in the Dean of Students office is a poster-sized, framed photograph from 1970 depicting a scene from the campus protest that resulted in the National Guard and New Mexico State Police coming in to take back the Student Union Building from student strikers.
Boeglin was a young assistant dean then with a few years under his belt. Now, after 42 years in higher education, Boeglin is retiring this month.
A Lifelong New Mexican
Originally from Carlsbad, N.M., Boeglin earned his undergraduate degree at UNM in political science in 1966.
He and and his wife Patsy got married in 1966. "We met at a parking lot dance behind Coronado Hall and then we lived there. Patsy was the only woman among 410 men." They have two children, Shelly and Eric, and three grandchildren, Dante, Baylee and Boegy.
Boeglin's years of service at UNM were interrupted when he worked as associate dean of students at Frostburg State University and dean of students at Colorado Northwestern Community College.
He came back to UNM as an associate dean. The capstone of his career has been serving as dean of students for 13 years. "The 40+ years have passed in the blink of a gnat's eye," he said. While working, he earned a master's degree in education administration and completed work toward a doctorate.
Joys and Challenges
Boeglin remembers many students being engaged, passionate and striving to make a difference. At one time, the university considered taking the Hokona Cellar for use by the Department of Theatre and Dance. "A student came to my office day after day saying we needed to design it as residence hall programming space. Communal residence hall space was needed, and the student's persistence paid off," he said. Hokona Cellar has been in use for 35 years.
The most difficult job, he said, is dealing with student deaths. One semester, about three years ago, UNM lost 23 students. Most were accidents, but some were from natural causes.
"Students sometimes die young. How do you bring meaning out of the natural death of a 20-year-old? It is devastating to other students, to their friends. It is a defining moment in their understanding of the meaning of life and death. It teaches us all that life hangs on a gossamer thread, and it is to be cherished and valued because it might not be there tomorrow," he said.
The Leadership Spectrum
Boeglin saw many UNM presidents come and go. He admired John Perovich, who came to UNM in 1982. "He was a soft-spoken and resolute man who never wore his ego on his sleeve," he said.
William Gordon, who served as UNM president 1998-2002, came up through the faculty ranks. Gordon believed in the concept of Freshman Academic Choices. "He matched his commitment with money and charged Dean Peter White to get it done. We always have money to do what our values say are important," Boeglin said.
He notes that UNM, like many institutions, adopted a corporate model. Boeglin said that UNM searches for best practices and then "turns them into a catechism for how we do business." He added, "New Mexico territorial governor Lew Wallace said, ‘Every calculation based on experience elsewhere fails in New Mexico.' I'm not against best practices, but we need to judiciously apply them to what is unique about UNM."
Boeglin said the university is a mosaic with students at the center. "Our shared values are the cement that holds it together," he said. "We need to recommit to our values – not just espouse them, but practice them as well."
The Next Horizon
Boeglin calls his career a "wonderful journey." "I have been privileged and blessed to travel in the best of company at UNM," he said.
Boeglin sees retirement as a cessation of a set of tasks, but not the end of the road. "The shift will be to family, friends and relaxing, but leading a purposeful life remains life's quest, no matter the venue," he said.
Media contact: Carolyn Gonzales, 277-5920, firstname.lastname@example.org