For Better and For Worse: A look at the Early Presidents of UNM

Photo of Zimmerman at desk
UNM President James Zimmerman

On Sunday, September 16, 2018 at 2:00 pm, Portia Vescio, University Archivist at UNM, will provide a lively and entertaining discussion of the early UNM presidents.

Have you ever wondered what happened in the early years of UNM history? You may be surprised to hear that there was a lot of turnover of leadership, changes to the curriculum, fighting for budget, and scandals galore. Each president left his mark on the university leaving it both better and worse than it was before his tenure. University Archivist Portia Vescio takes a look at the first seven presidents in UNM history and discusses their achievements, letdowns, and legacies. Among the topics covered will be:

  • President Elias Stover’s son caused so much trouble for the faculty that they wrote to him and asked him to withdraw his son from school.
  • President William Tight was well liked and popular, but endured a series of personal scandals that caused the Board of Regents to ask for his resignation.
  • President David Hill was a 19th century man in the 1920s and waged a campaign against modern types of dancing.
  • President James Zimmerman finally brought stability to a university suffering from the insensitivity of his predecessor (Hill).

The program will be held in the Ventana Room (just North of the main entrance) at the Albuquerque Museum at 2000 Mountain Rd. NW in Old Town. Parking is free in the lot south of the Museum. Admission to the Museum and the AHS program is also free.

Photo of Portia Vescio, University Archivist, UNMPortia Vescio began working as the University Archivist for the University of New Mexico in May 2016. She is responsible for collecting, processing, and promoting the university’s historical documents and photographs. She also works with classes conducting historical research, creates exhibitions with collection materials, and hosts talks and events related to UNM history. Prior to her arrival at UNM, Portia was the assistant director of the University Archives & Historical Collections at Michigan State University. Before MSU, she spent nearly two years at New Mexico State University as a manuscripts librarian for the Rio Grande Historical Collections. Portia received her MLIS degree from Indiana University and her BS in Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is currently pursuing a graduate certificate in Museum Studies from UNM.