NMSU Grants was established as a branch of New Mexico State University in 1968 through the cooperative efforts of New Mexico State University and Grants Municipal Schools. During the first year, classes were held in the evening in public school facilities and were taught by qualified part-time instructors from the community.
Martinez Hall & Early Years
On August 1969, the college moved to its present site, previously home to the Grants Job Corps Center. During 1977-78 a main building was constructed to house academic classrooms, a student lounge, the library, and faculty/administrative offices. The former Job Corp Vocational Building and gymnasium were also renovated at that time.
In 1980-81, the gymnasium was completely remodeled, extensive landscaping was completed, and four additional rooms were added to the Main Building: two art rooms at the north end and a lecture room/adult learning center at the south end.
By 1984, an additional 20,800 square feet were added resulting in a total of 79,197 square feet. The Automotive, Electrical, and Welding programs were moved from the former vocational building to more modern and spacious facilities. Enlarged quarters for the Adult Learning Center and two computer laboratories were added.
The main building was dedicated in May 1987, christened as the “Walter K. Martinez Memorial Hall,” in memory of the former State Representative who served from 1966-1984 as State Representative then as Speaker of the House from 1971-1978. During his tenure in the legislature, the NMSU Grants Campus received significant appropriations for capital improvements to plan, remodel, and construct the present physical plant.
Martinez’s leadership in establishing the Severance Tax Permanent Fund was one of his most outstanding contributions. Through this permanent fund, a revenue source was created to fund higher education and other state capital outlay projects.
Fidel Gym & McClure Hall
In October 1993, the gymnasium was dedicated as the “Joseph A. Fidel Activities Center” in recognition of the New Mexico State Senator. Senator Fidel, respected friend and mentor of NMSU Grants Campus, was instrumental in forming the college while serving on the Grants-Cibola County School Board. His unending support for the continued growth of the university continues through his effective representation in the State Senate.
During the 1993-94 academic year, new offices were remodeled for faculty, new classrooms were constructed in the annex building, administrative office space was enlarged, and a new, larger bookstore was built.
Come 1998, the remaining Job Corps building on campus was named in honor of Francis W. (Frank) McClure to recognize his crucial role in the university’s successful beginning. During the 1999-2000 school year, the building was refurbished, with new entrances, new carpet and tile, enlarged hallways, and newly painted walls. It currently houses the Building Trades program, the Computer Science & Creative Media programs, faculty offices, the art lab, the photography lab, and several redecorated classrooms.
In 2001 the University obtained full title to its property and facilities. Until October 2001 the federal government was the rightful and legal owner.
Lucy Belle Ma Hall & Recent Years
In the intervening years, the NMSU Grants campus remained relatively unchanged save for small renovations. Then, in 2015, under the leadership of President Felicia Casados a proposal was taken before the Grants-Cibola County School Board once more.
Fall of that year the proposal passed a local bond election granting approval and funding for the construction of two new structures on the Grants Campus.
Additionally, as part of the expansion the Child Development Center would have access to vastly more robust facilities.
President Casados elected to retire in October 2016 as a 1-year planning and design stage was underway. Dr. Harry Sheski served as Interim President overseeing the next stages of the development.
Groundbreaking for the construction of the buildings occurred in March 2017.
Mickey D. Best (Ph.D.) officially succeeded Felicia Casados on June 1st, 2017 as Campus President of NMSU Grants to oversee the completion of the project.
January 2019, the new facilities entered into use
The new building complex was christened “Lucy Belle Ma Hall” in honor and recognition of long time faculty and staffer Lucy Ma at NMSU Grants.
Notably, her estate to this day provides students with opportunities through the “Lucy Ma Endowment” scholarship.
These new facilities the “Teacher & Health Care Education” building and “Child Development Center” are dedicated to her life and memory.
They mark our continued commitment and belief in access to higher education for all people.