University of New Mexico President Garnett S. Stokes today celebrated New Mexico as “the Land of Achievement” as she delivered her annual State of the University address to the Lobo community in UNM’s SUB Ballroom.
Stokes, who is beginning her second term as UNM’s president, opened her remarks by thanking the community for its support and enthusiasm, and hailed UNM for its commitment to a “smarter, more successful, more prosperous, and happier State of New Mexico.”
“UNM is notable among flagship Research 1 institutions because of our almost unique status as a Hispanic-serving and minority-serving institution,” Stokes said. “Add to that the distinction of being home to New Mexico’s only academic health center, law school and school of architecture; a thriving artistic community; a state with a rich cultural heritage; and a highly diverse population, and you’ve got a one-of-a-kind institution serving a one-of-a-kind citizenry.”
Stokes, who has served as the university’s 23rd president since 2018, said while the state’s motto is the “Land of Enchantment,” it is also fitting to think of New Mexico as the “Land of Achievement.”
“UNM, as the state’s flagship and premier institution of higher learning, not only serves our state, but seeks to understand it, to improve its health and to make it richer intellectually, economically and socially,” she said.
“In the five years that I have had the privilege of leading UNM, I have watched with awe as this amazing institution — which was already growing and evolving when I arrived — has steadily transformed into one of the most unique and pre-eminent universities in the region, if not the nation. Our state is truly the land of achievement, and the University for New Mexico will always be here to help ensure that all New Mexicans can dream boldly, aspire fiercely and achieve confidently.” — UNM President Garnett S. Stokes
Highlighting the five goals of UNM 2040, the university’s multi-year road map to the future, Stokes began by spotlighting UNM’s commitment to its goal to Advance New Mexico and hailed the comprehensive and compassionate health care services provided by UNM Health and Health Sciences. Stokes noted that, following the launch of UNM 2040, UNM Health and Health Sciences has initiated a similar strategic planning process under the leadership of Dr. Douglas Ziedonis, executive vice president for Health Sciences and CEO of the UNM Health System.
“We know that the health and well-being of our state, and our country, are directly linked to the health and well-being of our citizens,” she said. “We also know that a healthy New Mexico is a prosperous New Mexico—and as we continue our work together delivering more to our citizens in the form of the services they need and deserve, we are committed to providing our health professionals with the resources they need to do their jobs not just locally—which means getting them into rural and under-resourced communities where we are needed the most—but globally.”
Stokes added that two programs – including the College of Nursing’s new accelerated bachelor of science in nursing degree and the combined BA/MD program from the School of Medicine – have been added or altered to provide additional healthcare learning opportunities as well as address the health care worker shortage in the state.
“As we continue our work together to deliver to our citizens the services they need and deserve, we will always ensure we provide our health professionals with the resources they need to do more—and do good,” Stokes said.
Stokes also highlighted the institution’s innovative approach to growing New Mexico’s economy, including new course offerings to reflect the needs of regional employers like the national laboratories and new economies like the booming film and television industry. She also lauded efforts by Lobo Rainforest Innovations to boost the local economy, including its recent partnership with the co-founder of Meow Wolf on the creation of innovative spaces. “As you can tell, we are thinking differently about how we carry out the business of New Mexico’s business,” she said.
Stokes reaffirmed the university’s commitment to its students—noting that “without them, there is no University of New Mexico”—and detailed changes in campus infrastructure, educational programs, mental health and wellness initiatives, and campus safety that have improved the student experience.
Stokes noted the addition of several new facilities since her arrival at UNM, including the McKinnon Center at the Anderson School of Management, the Physics & Astronomy and Interdisciplinary Sciences Building, the renovated Johnson Center, and the newly opened Interdisciplinary Substance Use and Brain Injury Center. She went on to thank New Mexico voters for supporting the General Obligation bonds that will provide the funding necessary to complete a new children’s psychiatric center and a facility for the College of Fine Arts. Noting that “our campus is always a work in progress,” she also pointed out that work continues on a new home for UNM’s ROTC programs, the new College of Nursing and Public Health Excellence Building, the Behavioral Health Crisis Center in Bernalillo County, and UNM Hospital’s Critical Care Tower.
Pointing out that UNM is one of only 131 Carnegie-designated Research 1 universities in the nation, Stokes underscored the university’s commitment to groundbreaking research, noting that “our innovation is as limitless as our imagination.” She went on to celebrate the upcoming addition of new concept teams to UNM’s Grand Challenges initiative, a project Stokes initiated shortly after her appointment as president, as well as the wide range of Lobo research in areas such as traumatic brain injury, volcanic gasses, Alzheimer’s disease, and nuclear-powered propulsion systems.
Reflecting on UNM’s “state of mind as an institution,” Stokes emphasized the concept of “One University,” stressing that a university “is composed of many parts, working together toward a shared mission.” To that end, Stokes applauded UNM’s branch campuses in Gallup, Los Alamos, Valencia, and Taos, as well as its facility in Rio Rancho, the UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center, which was recently certified as a Level III trauma center.
Following her One University model, Stokes said that all those who learn or work at UNM are stronger “when we are aligned in purpose and strategy” and praised collaboratives with state and local communities and leaders. Stokes also applauded the new Opportunity Scholarship promoted by New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, as well as the established Lottery Scholarship. “To serve our citizens,” remarked Stokes, “it really takes New Mexico . . . to make New Mexico.”
Stokes concluded by celebrating how far The University of New Mexico has come in five years and promising that the institution will “move into the future from a position of strength, certainty, and—as always—pride and optimism.
“In the five years that I have had the privilege of leading UNM, I have watched with awe as this amazing institution — which was already growing and evolving when I arrived — has steadily transformed into one of the most unique and pre-eminent universities in the region, if not the nation,” she said. “Our state is truly the land of achievement, and the University for New Mexico will always be here to help ensure that all New Mexicans can dream boldly, aspire fiercely and achieve confidently.”
To listen and watch the address, visit State of the University.