Thanks to the generosity of an Albuquerque couple, The University of New Mexico School of Engineering is now the first school or college in the University to hold an endowed dean’s position.

Jim and Ellen King’s gift of $500,000 will create the Jim and Ellen King Dean of Engineering and Computing.

The Kings’ gift, combined with matching funds from the state, will provide the $1 million funding needed to create the endowed deanship.

The University of New Mexico Board of Regents approved the naming of the endowed deanship at its April 8 meeting.

“Jim and Ellen King have made a transformative gift to ensure continuity of great leadership for Engineering,” said UNM President Robert Frank. “In a tough economic climate for higher education, the support of those who have strong vision is crucial, and this endorsement is the result of both state and private support, and proves that   we have greater outcomes when we all work together.”

UNM’s School of Engineering will join many other top-ranked engineering schools around the country that have endowed dean positions, including Stanford University, Purdue University, University of Michigan, Duke University, Cornell University, and University of Tennessee.

In 2015, Gov. Susana Martinez signed into law changes to the state’s higher education endowment fund that provided funds to establish endowed chairs, professorships, lectureships, research positions, graduate assistantships, and faculty development programs that “will enhance the quality of public post-secondary education in New Mexico.” The awarding of the funds was a competitive process, and School of Engineering received one of four of the awards that came to UNM.

“We believe in great leadership, and this match provided a very attractive opportunity to have a real impact on the School and all that it can be. How could we not do it?" -Jim King, donor

The matching funds were being made available through March 31, 2016. The measure, House Bill 170, was sponsored by Rep. Larry Larrañaga, a School of Engineering alumnus who is chairman of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee.

The endowed deanship will generate extra funds yearly for the School of Engineering dean, which he or she can use for research or other programs to benefit students or the school.

“This crucial investment will help UNM attract and support the best leadership for the School of Engineering for many years to come and will help ensure that our School continues to be viewed as a well-respected institution,” said Joseph L. Cecchi, dean of the School of Engineering. “In today’s academic environment, endowed positions are an important way for universities to have a competitive advantage to attract and retain world-class faculty and academic leaders through increased prestige and additional resources.”

The Kings, of Albuquerque, say their gift is a reflection of the love they have for UNM and the future of New Mexico.

“We care deeply about New Mexico, and although neither of us are engineers, we think highly of engineers and all they can accomplish,” said Jim King. “New Mexico is a beautiful place, and this university has some wonderful minds. Put those together, and we can do great things.”

The Kings said they are honored to help provide the School of Engineering with a strong structure for many years to come.

“We believe in great leadership, and this match provided a very attractive opportunity to have a real impact on the School and all that it can be. How could we not do it? We are honored to have his opportunity to make such a big difference,” Jim King said.

Jim King earned a law degree at UNM and a bachelor of business administration in accounting from the University of Notre Dame. He is chairman of the board of Bradbury Stamm Construction, where he has served in a variety of leadership roles since 1972. Under his leadership, the company grew substantially and became an innovator in hiring women into management roles. He is a member of the Alexis de Tocqueville Society of the United Way of Central New Mexico; the Albuquerque Economic Forum; the UNM Lobo Club and the President’s Club; the New Mexico Amigos; and the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties. He is director of the UNM Alumni Association board, the Albuquerque Economic Development Inc. board, and the investment committee of the Albuquerque Community Foundation.

Ellen King manages Bradbury Stamm’s philanthropy efforts, as well as being involved with a variety of community organizations. She is a member of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation Board, the advisory board for the Center of Non-profit Excellence at United Way, as well as being instrumental in the establishment of Mandy’s Special Farm (a facility for disabled adults in Albuquerque’s South Valley).

The Kings have been loyal supporters of UNM over the years, having donated to various programs, including the UNM Cancer Center for skin cancer research.