Woods retires from NMSU; plans to stay busy, active

Woods retires from NMSU; plans to stay busy, active

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By Las Cruces Bulletin Ben Woods is about to retire. Don’t expect the departing special assistant to New Mexico State University President Garrey Carruthers, though, to just spend lazy days fishing or lounging on his couch watching TV. Woods, 62, may be ending his career in the academic setting, but he plans to stay busy. Sure, he’s going to use his new-found downtime to visit grand kids in California and his recently married daughter in Dallas. And while he may slow down some and enjoy not having to go to an office every day, no extended vacation to a beach or other such plans are currently in the books. “There are a lot of things I’ll continue to be engaged in,” Woods said. “I want to support the things that are important to me.” He’s a member of the MountainView Regional Medical Center board of trustees. “I’ve been a part of that since Day 1,” Woods said. “Before the building was even built.” He is also a member of US Bank’s citizen advisory board and serves on the Las Cruces Public Schools Foundation, a 501 c3 nonprofit that manages scholarships and awards teacher grants among other work. “It’s a very rewarding group to be involved in,” Woods said. A former president of the board of directors of the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce, Woods has returned to the group’s board for a second time after a 10-year break. “It’s so different from the last time,” he said. “I’m learning a lot.” Woods came to Las Cruces to work at NMSU in 1990 to be director of facilities. He said he has reported to 10 different presidents in his quarter of a century at the school. “It’s been a great place,” he said. “It’s given me more than I’ve ever expected.” Woods is a native of Bayview, Texas, an Exxon company town where the company operates a refinery. “I grew up on a ship channel,” he said. The state of the water pushed him toward an education in civil engineering at Texas A&M. “Baytown had waterways but they were dead (from pollution),” Woods said. “I had a desire to clean things up.” He worked on an undergrad degree in water treatment. When he graduated, though, he was commissioned into the Air Force and became a base engineer. The military took him out of his Texas comfort zone. “I went to upstate New York and it was one of the great fortunes of my life,” Woods said. “I had never seen it snow in my life and I had the responsibility for snow control. I got there in September and we had snow in October. “Such a change was a great opportunity for me.” Woods said he met his wife-to-be, Chris, while in college and she joined him for New York. After four years in active duty, he said it was time for the couple to return to College Station, Texas, so Chris could finish her degree. “She enrolled and I started looking for a job,” he said. “And I had an opportunity to be involved with university facilities.” They stayed at Texas A&M for 11 years and Woods continued his military service as a member of an Air Guard unit in Dallas. Then he said he knew it was time for a move. “We wanted to move to New Mexico,” Woods said. The couple felt drawn to Las Cruces. “Something kind of guided us this way,” he said. Woods said he learned the difference between Texas and New Mexico right away when he attended the dedication of a lab. “Up on the stage was both U.S. senators and the governor,” he said. “I looked around and thought, ‘I should not be in this room.’” Woods said in Texas he would never be able to get close to the governor or members of Congress. “There would be a distance between the leadership and people like me,” he said. “You could not cross that gap.” The situation was different in the Land of Enchantment. “When they got finished talking, (former Sen. Pete) Domenici introduced himself to me,” Woods said. “That was so revealing.” Brook Stockberger can be reached at 680-1977 or brook@lascrucesbulletin.com Ben Woods, a longtime top administrator at New Mexico State University, thanks the Las Cruces City Council for declaring Monday, June 1, in his honor in recognition of his retirement. LAS CRUCES BULLETIN PHOTO BY TODD DICKSON

Brook Stockberger

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