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Eastern New Mexico University
ENMU > About ENMU > History


1927: Portales is designated as the site for a new “normal school” to serve the more than 40 percent of the state’s high school graduates who live in eastern New Mexico.

1928: The chamber of commerce raises $7,000 to buy 43 acres of land for campus on the west side of town. The money is later repaid by the Board of Regents.

1929: Initial state funding of $62,500 is approved for the first campus building.

Read Fields of Hope: How Portales Won the Battle for Eastern New Mexico University


1930: With less than half of the Administration Building complete, the cornerstone is laid. During the Great Depression, the English Tudor building is vacant for three years, except for cattle taking shelter.

1934: Eastern New Mexico Junior College opens to 145 students for a six-week summer session. Students can enroll in two-year programs in teacher education and business. Donald MacKay serves as first president.

1935: Eastern celebrates its first graduating class of 14 women and three men.

1936: The Administration Building and Quay Hall are completed.

1939: The renamed Eastern New Mexico College adds a fourth year of classes. The campus has four permanent buildings and an enrollment of 826.


1940: To finance their educations, many struggling students bring cows to college. They sell milk to pay their way through school. Other enterprising students raise chickens, sell eggs and rent horses to local citizens.

1941: ENMC awards 41 Bachelor of Arts degrees to members of its first four-year graduating class.

1942: Floyd Golden becomes Eastern’s second president.

1943: During World War II, enrollment drops to 241.

1945–46: Enrollment skyrockets as returning veterans continue their educations. Eastern creates housing for 100 married students with surplus buildings from the deactivated Fort Sumner Air Base. The apartments are known as Vetville.

1947: Eastern becomes the youngest school accredited as a four-year institution. Cheering students and the college band greeted the president’s train at 3 a.m. when he returned from the North Central Association meeting in Chicago.

1948: Eastern adds a gymnasium, cafeteria and Lea Hall.

1949: Eastern begins offering master’s degree programs. The Science Building is completed.


1953: The North Central Association accredits graduate programs at Eastern.

1955: The state Legislature approves a name change to Eastern New Mexico University.

1959: Eastern celebrates its 25th anniversary.


1960: Dr. Donald C. Moyer is named Eastern president.

1961: Eastern offers an education specialist degree as a post-master’s option for educators.

1962: The Liberal Arts Building and De Baca Hall open.

1964: Eastern opens the Campus Union Building and Eddy Hall.

1965: Charles Meister becomes the fourth ENMU president.

1966: Lincoln Hall, a seven-story dormitory, is completed.

1967: ENMU opens its Roswell campus. In Portales, the physical education complex and Bernalillo Hall open their doors to students.

1968: Greyhound Stadium and Blackwater Draw Museum north of Portales are completed. The Education Building and home economics wing of the Technology Building open the following year.

1969: The Eastern men’s basketball team wins the NAIA championship in Kansas City, Missouri.


1973: The state Legislature funds an educational television station.

1975: Warren Armstrong is named Eastern’s fifth president.

1979: The College of Business building is completed and dedicated.


1982: The campus fountain is completed.

1983: Robert Matheny becomes ENMU's sixth president.

1984: Eastern celebrates its 50th anniversary.

1989: Thomas A. Bond is named ENMU president.


1991: ENMU opens an instructional center in Ruidoso.

1991: Everett L. Frost begins his term as Eastern's eighth president.

1997–99: Eastern receives a prestigious Pew Leadership Award for renewal of undergraduate education.

1999: ENMU becomes a federally designated Hispanic-Serving Institution.


2000: Eastern is one of only 20 institutions selected to participate in the American Association of Colleges and Universities Greater Expectations.

2001: Steven Gamble is selected as ninth ENMU president.

2001: ENMU receives a $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for Title V programs to develop Hispanic-serving institutions.

2006: ENMU opens its new Communication Center to house the KENW Broadcast Center and academic programs in Communicative Arts and Sciences.

2006: Science fiction pioneer Jack Williamson, an ENMU professor for 17 years, dies at age 98 in Portales.

2007: Eastern receives full 10-year accreditation following the Higher Learning Commission team's visit to campus.

2007: Students can choose from seven new majors offered at ENMU: animal and dairy science, aviation science, digital cinema arts, emergency medical services management, environmental science, forensic science and hospitality management.

2008: Campus bustles with construction as part of $60 million in upgrades to buildings and utilities.

2008: A renovated and expanded Science Building-almost one-third larger-reopens for classes and labs.

2008: ENMU's social work program wins accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education.


Eastern, which opened in 1934, celebrates 75 years of student success.