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Deborah Bentley, executive secretary to the president and the Board of Regents, discusses her time at ENMU.
Deborah Bentley, executive secretary to the president and the Board of Regents, discusses her time at ENMU.

Deborah Bentley, executive secretary to the president and the Board of Regents at Eastern New Mexico University, worked in the insurance industry for 10 years, which she says was "10 years too long." Switching to working in education has been "extremely rewarding."

Her "typical secretarial duties" also include a few added tasks. Duties for the regents include preparing an annual calendar of meetings, legal notices, transcribing minutes and handling other requests from the regents. 

She also attends commencements, travels to out-of-town board meetings, which include the Roswell and Ruidoso campuses and to Santa Fe once a year during the legislative session. The latter has allowed her to meet various state representatives and senators.

Deborah began working for Eastern in 1996 for the Assessment Office in Quay Hall. She transferred to the Office of Planning and Analysis as the executive secretary in 2000 with Dr. Patrice Caldwell as her supervisor. 

"As anyone would expect, I learned a lot from Dr. Caldwell during my five years in that office," Deborah said. "It was a great experience, and I learned so much about the University and interacted with a lot of our faculty and staff. I honed a few skills and became a more confident person under Dr. Caldwell's mentorship."

She moved to her current position in January 2005. 

"It's been a wonderful job. My experiences have been wide and varied," Deborah said. "I've had the opportunity to meet so many people and to further understand the internal workings of the University.  Dr. Gamble is a kind and courteous man, and it was a true pleasure to have spent the last 12 ½ years working with him."

Deborah currently works with Dr. J.S. Elwell, the new president. She says Dr. Elwell and his wife, Edwina, "are very nice people and easy to know. I look forward to working with Dr. Elwell and feel certain he will help Eastern continue on its path of success."

Deborah has enjoyed meeting people on campus and those who visit the office from the state or community. "It is always a pleasure to provide information or assistance when I can," she said. "Sometimes I have the answer even to the oddest of questions. There are days that only weird things happen, and other days are quite routine."

She says working with the Board of Regents has been a great experience. Since she began in 2005, "All of our regents have been really great people – people who are interested in Eastern and who want to see students succeed. A sad thing is that we have lost three of our regents while they were in office—Alva Carter, Brett Leach and Susan Tatum. They were extremely good regents and their passing left a huge hole in our hearts."

After working in the insurance industry for 10 years, Deborah was "desperate to find another line of work. In 1991, my husband's company transferred him from Hereford, Texas, to Bloomfield, New Mexico. The change in locale enabled me to 'start over,' and I was able to work for the public schools there. That started my career in education. It's been extremely rewarding not only being involved in education in New Mexico, but because of the people I have met. Having a retirement plan doesn't hurt."

Her husband's company was responsible for relocating them to Portales when he was transferred from Bloomfield to Gallup to Portales. They arrived in May of 1996 and she started working at Eastern at the end of June. 

"I worked two days and my boss went on vacation for two weeks. I was at a loss of what I should do by myself for two weeks, so I began reading the contents of the file cabinets," Deborah said. "By the time he returned, I was acclimated and could retrieve the files he asked for and actually knew something about the Assessment Office. He was surprised."

Deborah has worked for 47 years, and at "this point in life, my ultimate career goal is retirement! I've checked groceries, worked in insurance and worked in education. At no point along the way did I ever think I would end up in the President's Office at ENMU. When we lived in Hereford, we would drive through Portales and the kids always thought it was neat to drive 'under the bridge'–meaning the walkway over Highway 70. Years later, I ended up working here."

Deborah claims she is a "boring person with no hobbies. 

"Once I retire, I'll work in my yard more," she said. "Maybe read. Take daily walks with my husband. We like to go camping in our 5th wheel. I am not a sleeping-bag-and-tent person! I don't want to be that 'one with nature.' I don't like bugs or dirt."

Deborah was born in the "thriving metropolis of Rising Star, Texas, population 800, or thereabouts."

Her dad worked for El Paso Natural Gas Company. They lived in Jal, New Mexico, when she was very young, then moved to Goldsmith, Texas, population 200. She went to junior high in Odessa, Texas, then they moved to Kermit, Texas where she attended high school. 

Her mom was a stay-at-home mom for many years, but starting working when Deborah was in high school. 

She has an older and younger brother.  Deborah was the middle child and the only girl, and "never had to wear hand-me-downs and I got to have my own room. We weren't rich, by any means, but we always had food on the table, and Dad liked to take us on a vacation every year. 

"I remember going to Indiana to meet distant relatives, taking a wide-sweeping trip through Colorado and Wyoming, camping in Ruidoso – probably where my dislike of bugs and dirt began--and several summers that we went to Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington. Somehow on one salary, my dad figured out how we could have a nice vacation each summer."

Deborah met her husband when they were high school sophomores, and they've been together since.  They married at 18 and have two grown sons. One is a chemical engineer and the other is a pastor.

"We have that whole left brain, right brain thing going on in our family," Deborah said.  "The son who is a pastor is very creative and he could have been an artist or designer. The chemical engineer is just that – his brain is clicking all the time about how things work." 

Between them, there are five grandkids – four boys and one girl.  Her oldest grandson starts college this fall at New Mexico Tech, following in his dad's engineering footsteps. The youngest grandson will turn two in September.

Deborah's youngest son lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and they've had the opportunity to visit there several times. 

"It's a beautiful place," Deborah said. "Last summer we toured Casa Loma in Toronto which is a castle. It's billed as the only castle in North America, but I don't think that's true. 

"A fun fact is that part of the X-Men movie was filmed there. The movie is played on a video screen and you can see which scenes were filmed in which rooms of the castle. Now, when see X-Men on TV, we say, 'Look, we've been there!' 

"We've been to downtown Toronto with all the traffic and street cars. My daughter-in-law's grandfather was an engineer and he helped design the subway system and road structure of Toronto. We have driven over roads he designed."

Deborah thinks "people need to be nice and have respect for each other. Not everyone will have the same viewpoint, but you don't have to be disrespectful if you disagree."

Deborah says her faith and family are her foundation.