Two associate professors with New Mexico State University’s College of Education have each been selected to positions that will help serve the educational needs of the region.
Blanca Araujo, director of the Office for Teacher Candidate Preparation, has been named the Stan Fulton Chair in Education for the Improvement of Border and Rural Schools, and Michelle Salazar Pérez, associate professor of Early Childhood Education, is the recipient of the J. Paul Taylor Endowed Professorship in Education. Araujo succeeds Azadeh Osanloo, while Pérez succeeds Betsy Cahill. Osanloo and Cahill are co-directors of the NMSU School of Teacher Preparation, Administration and Leadership, which is housed in the College of Education.
The Stan Fulton Chair was established in 2005 to enhance communication among NMSU faculty, staff and students and pre-kindergarten through 12th grade constituents to improve border and rural schools. The chair works to expand, improve and coordinate existing outreach programs and research activities, and is funded in part by an endowed gift from Stan Fulton, a benefactor to the university and owner of Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino who died in January 2018.
Araujo co-authored the book, “Educating Across Borders: The Case of a Dual Language Program on the U.S.-Mexico Border,” based on research of border-crossing students attending school in El Paso and their experiences learning from a dual-language curriculum. Araujo also has experience working with rural and border communities, including time spent as a student and later a teacher in the Gadsden Independent School District.
“I feel very privileged and proud to be the Stan Fulton Chair,” said Araujo, who has been at NMSU for seven years. “I know the Fulton family has always supported Gadsden, and it means a lot to continue that work, especially being from the border and a rural school.”
Araujo said she plans to continue her work in bilingual and teacher education and studying binational students. Araujo will also take over for Osanloo in helping organize a youth summer camp with the Las Cruces Police Department.
The professorship was established in 2004 by family and friends of J. Paul Taylor, a retired state representative who received three degrees from NMSU. Taylor has been a lifelong advocate for PreK-12 education, most notably early childhood and bilingual education.
Pérez, who is in her sixth year at NMSU, will help organize the 27th International Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education Conference, which will take place at NMSU next fall. The conference will host attendees from across the globe, including New Zealand, Kenya, Norway and Denmark, along with the U.S. and Mexico.
“I feel very honored to be able to continue advocacy of early childhood education in the state of New Mexico, nationally and internationally,” Pérez said. “I also feel honored that I get to follow in Dr. Cahill’s footsteps because she’s done so much for border communities and the state.”
Pérez said she plans to use some of the funds she receives as part of the J. Paul Taylor Endowed Professorship to support research on children’s views of current events and how they affect their lives, and to help support graduate students conducting research on early childhood education topics that will help serve surrounding border communities.
Cahill and Osanloo said they were both pleased with the selection of Araujo and Pérez by the search committee responsible for choosing the Stan Fulton Chair and the J. Paul Taylor Endowed Professor.
“These women are committed to serving the educational institutions and communities of the State of New Mexico,” Osanloo said. “We are confident that they will continue to honor the legacy of both Stan Fulton and Rep. J. Paul Taylor.”