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Academy for Learning in Retirement schedules fall series online


New Mexico State University’s Academy for Learning in Retirement (ALR) has sponsored public lectures and performances for Las Cruces since 1992. It usually holds four morning presentations per month, September-May.

The presentations traditionally have been given by current or retired NMSU faculty and staff members, but there have been presentations by other experts such as Dr. James Rasmussen, a retired dermatologist in Las Cruces, who discussed last December how human skin functions and ages. Recent presentations have included Broadway plays, the history of women in jazz, key developments in several nations and regions, Walt Whitman’s life and poetry and other topics.

ALR speakers have given presentations to large audiences in the Good Samaritan Society’s Las Cruces Village auditorium. ALR members have enjoyed attending lectures and seeing their friends before the presentations or during breaks.

The pandemic has raised serious concerns about possible health risks for ALR attendees and the residents of Good Samaritan if live lectures are held. The ALR board postponed its remaining spring presentations in mid-March.

We surveyed our attendees and found an enthusiastic response to continuing the program online during the pandemic. ALR has developed a schedule for fall 2020 that includes some of the postponed spring presentations as well as new presentations.  ALR’s board and curriculum committee are now consulting experts in online presentations.

ALR plans to use online instruction methods that include question-and-answer periods to bring its presentations to the public. It should be able to determine the best formats, arrange an online training session for viewers and inaugurate the fall series by mid-September.

ALR will assess during the fall how its online presentations are working and whether registration fees and donations will be sufficient to meet costs.

The September speaker is Lt. Col. Wes Childs from NMSU-ROTC, discussing how the U.S. military has planned and carried out operations in the past and present. In early October, Dr. Eileen VanWie, president of the League of Women Voters of Southern New Mexico, and Julie Wojtko of Las Cruces Public Schools will complete their March series with a presentation about the campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment.

In later October, Drs. Neil Rosendorf and Christa Slaton from the NMSU Department of Government will give presentations about the 2020 election’s implications for key issues such as immigration and foreign policy, and about the participation and impact of women in politics. 

November presenters include Dr. Pancho Romero, Dr. Sarah Daughtrey, Simon Gollo and Dr. Marco Cavalcante from the NMSU Department of Music, Lucy Zollner from the Department of Languages and Linguistics and Emily Guerra of KRWG-FM radio. They will give presentations about genres and traditions in Latin American music.

In December, Drs. Jeff Amato, Brian Hastings, Emily Johnson and Reed Burgette of the NMSU Department of Geological Sciences will give presentations about the geology of New Mexico.

ALR will advertise the times and dates of these presentations, as well as its online viewing training session, later in the summer. It hopes that many people will see its exciting on-line fall presentations. 

ALR was started in 1992 by former NMSU President Gerald Thomas, along with retired deans Thomas Gale, Virginia Higbie, Flavia McCormick and others, including former professor and teacher Clarence Fielder.


Jeffrey Brown is an Academy for Learning in Retirement board member and chair of the ALR curriculum committee. He was at NMSU 1984-2016, serving as a faculty member in the NMSU Department of History and as an administrator in the College of Arts and Sciences.