Portales, NM – Aug. 25, 2023– Eastern New Mexico University officially dedicated the Education Building on the main campus to honor alumna, author, educator, and philanthropist Dr. Gay Su Pinnell on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023.
Pinnell, a nationally recognized early childhood literacy education expert, has made several transformational gifts to ENMU over the last several years. Her grant to ENMU's Child Development Center on the Portales campus significantly expanded services to two-year-old preschool children, enhancing ENMU students' hands-on learning and providing these children with state-of-the-art instructional materials.
Pinnell's gift of $1 million to fund the Co-Teaching Project in 2021 was an innovative partnership with Portales Schools and ENMU to enhance student-teacher cooperation with their teacher-supervisors.
"This is surprising and rewarding. Seeing my name on a building where my father taught is a great honor for me and my family," said Gay Su Pinnell. "Eastern New Mexico University gave me what I needed to become successful, and I am forever grateful to this institution."
The ENMU alumna, who grew up in Portales and became a nationally renowned early childhood literacy education expert, also purchased the Casa del Sol (House of the Sun) property south of the ENMU campus in October 2017. Pinnell loved the adobe-style home built in 1948, designed by famous Santa Fe architect John Gaw Meem. She had the property completely renovated and donated it to ENMU to serve as a campus event space with two guest apartments for dignitaries.
"It is truly an honor to know Dr. Pinnell. She said ENMU gave her what she needed to begin a successful career," said James Johnston, ENMU Chancellor. "Providing that start, that quality education is a legacy ENMU works every day to continue, and through her generosity, we are better positioned to do just that. We are honored to be a part of Dr. Pinnell's journey and genuinely grateful for all she has done."
The 1966 ENMU alumna was inducted into the ENMU Educator Hall of Honor in 2014 for her exceptional career developing internationally recognized teaching methods in early childhood literacy, named Philanthropist of the Year in 2019 by the ENMU Foundation, and was honored with the Distinguished Services Award on Oct 1, 2022, by the ENMU Alumni Association. The ENMU Board of Regents announced the renaming of the Education Building in her honor in October of 2022.