Last updated 4/21/2021


Need to Cite this page? Use the reference citations below.

MLA 8th Ed.

Katz, Nicole, and Emily Purcell. “NMMI Historical Timeline.” Historical Timeline, New Mexico Military Institute Archives, 2021, Accessed 22 Apr. 2021.

*note- for the “Accessed” date, use today’s date in the same format as above.


APA 7th Ed.

Katz, N., & Purcell, E. (2021). NMMI Historical Timeline. New Mexico Military Institute Archives.

September 3, 1891 Goss Military Institute was established by Colonel Robert S. Goss (pictured top left- laying down center front), Captain Joseph C. Lea and wife, Mabel Doss Day Lea (bottom left). GMI was the passion and brainchild of the Leas. When GMI opened its doors, they had just 38 students, 20 of which were female, 3 buildings and 5 acres of land in the north-half of block 4 in the center of Roswell, just south of the North Spring River. The land, which was originally part of a 10-acre peach orchard, and funds to establish the school had been granted to GMI by the Leas
February 23, 1893 Territorial legislature approves bill recognizing Goss Military Institute as a territorial school, therein, becoming New Mexico Military Institute and J.E. Edgington (right) is appointed as the Superintendent
August 1894 The newly made New Mexico Military Institute, moves to a new location at the corner of Main and 7th Street. Today this location is home to Roswell’s iconic UFO McDonald’s
February 25, 1895 James John Hagerman donates 40 acres of land for NMMI’s permanent home on top of “the hill”. Hagerman was to become one of the most influential men in the New Mexico territory. An American industrialist, Hagerman had businesses in railways (such as the Pecos Valley Railroad), mines, and helped develop advances in large scale irrigation
March 1895- September 1898 The Institute temporarily closes due to financial issues. During the closure, the Board of Regents works tirelessly to acquire the previously promised, but tied up, congressional funds and build up the new campus and its grounds which included the Superintendent’s quarters (1897), and the original Lea Hall (1897) which contained cadet quarters, classrooms, laundry, kitchen and dining room, and a basement swimming pool. Pictured right is the original Superintendent’s quarters
September 6, 1898 New Mexico Military Institute reopens its doors and names Colonel James G. Meadors (left) of McMinville, Tennessee, as Superintendent
1899 At the close of the 1898-1899 school year, it was decided that all female students and day students were no longer to be a part of the student body. Female cadets are not to be seen again on post until their return in 1977. Cadets from this point forward are required to reside on campus. Pictured top right are the Daughters of G.M.I. 1892 and bottom right are the female students presenting in a drill exercise in 1894
1901 J.G. Meadors resigns due to family and the decline of his own health, and Commandant of Cadets, Colonel J.W. Willson (below) becomes Superintendent
1901-1905 In the first five years of Willson’s term, 6 additional buildings were erected around campus: Faculty offices (1901), Gymnasium (1901), the Long Barracks (1902) which grew to almost 200 feet long, Mess Hall (1904), Laundry Building (1905) and Hospital (1905). Pictured below is a map of the expanded campus drawn up by the NMMI Engineering Class of 1905
1905 Major D. Cecil Pearson is named Commandant of Cadets
1909 NMMI receives its first classification as a Distinguished Military Institution. The first section of the Hagerman Barracks are also completed and dedicated to J.J. Hagerman. The barracks mark the beginning of the permanent and official architectural style for the campus. Known as Baronial or Military Gothic, the style is built into campus by the Rapp & Rapp architectural firm based in Santa Fe
August 31, 1909 4:30AM After surviving an accidental canon blast by Cadet Taliaferro, which tore a two foot wide hole through the building and then receiving an extensive renovation over the summer of 1909, Lea Hall burns down. Two theories emerged on the origin of the fire: a neglected cigar coming in contact with the turpentine soaked floors due to painting activities the day before, or spontaneous combustion occurring in the 20 tons of coal located in the basement directly below where the fire started. The latter is inferred as the culprit due to a similar event occurring in the basement of the barracks just a month later. Luckily, that stockpile of coal produced no flame, just copious amounts of smoke, of which alerted the campus, and fire fighters were able to calm the rising heat. Pictured is Lea Hall in 1898. This is just one of three buildings dedicated to Captain Joseph C. Lea throughout NMMI history. The second Lea Hall is built the following year and in 1947 is torn down in order to complete the last section of the Hagerman Barracks quadrangle
1915 NMMI formally becomes a junior college
1916 NMMI becomes a member of the Reserve Officer Training Corps and Harwood Perry Saunders, Jr. becomes Commandant of Cadets. COL H.P. Saunders serves as Commandant of Cadets for 31 years, longer than any other Commandant
1917 NMMI receives its first accreditation by the North Central Association of College and Secondary Schools
1917-1919 NMMI sees 710 alumni sent off to World War I
1918 Luna Natatorium is dedicated and housed the first indoor pool west of the Mississippi. Dedicated to former cadet, LT Antonio J. Luna ’13, who died in 1916 from typhoid fever while fighting in the Mexican Border War. Construction of the pool began in 1914 and was not enclosed until 1917
1918 The mess hall is constructed. It is later renamed to Bates Dining Hall. Named in honor of NMMI’s first commissary officer (Steward), Major Richard Bates, who dedicated 25 years of service to the Institute
1919 The Spanish influenza pandemic reaches the Institute and affects nearly two thirds of the cadets and resulted in 3 deaths. During the six week quarantine, classes continued on and movies were shown at night to help alleviate boredom
1920 The infirmary (right) is built and ready for use by September of 1920. The old headquarters is also built and opened for use in May. It was located where the current, and third, Lea Hall is
1920 At the suggestion of the US War Department, NMMI is to no longer be a battalion of infantry and become a cavalry squadron. After inspection of the grounds, it was deemed a suitable, flat terrain for the use of horses. 65 horses arrive during winter break in 1920 and the program is in full swing on January 3, 1921
1920-1921 The first Blue Book (right) is published in 1920 and the Honor System was set into motion the following year. The far right photo shows the cover that the Blue Book maintains for the majority of the remainder of the 20th century
1922 Colonel James W. Willson dies suddenly of a stroke and Colonel J.C. Troutman (left) becomes Superintendent
1924 The Sally Port is constructed and becomes one of NMMI’s most iconic symbols
1925 NMMI sees enrollment increase twofold. Pictured left is the First Class of 1925
1926 Colonel D.C. Pearson is appointed as the Superintendent
1927-1928 Willson Hall is built and dedicated to previous Superintendent COL. James W. Willson
1927-1928 Cahoon Armory is built and dedicated to financier Edward Augustus Cahoon. Cahoon opened the first financial institution in Roswell, the Bank of Roswell in 1890, helped establish Roswell’s first library and served as President of the NMMI Board of Regents
1929-1930 A second pandemic visited the Institute, this time in the form of cerebro-spinal meningitis. A two week quarantine was put into place and campus went on a full lockdown through the end of term. Throat cultures of faculty, staff and cadets were done and in doing so, discovered two individuals that were carriers, both of which were immediately located and isolated. Captain Paul Horgan, the Institute’s librarian and famed author, recruited entertainment among the cadets and they were referred to as Horgan’s “quarantine players”. Movies were a regular occurence as well
1931-1934 Quarters 1 is constructed and from this year forward, houses the Institute’s Superintendents and their families
1933 J. Ross Thomas Memorial Building (JRT) is constructed and dedicated. Major Thomas joined the NMMI Mathematics faculty in 1909. While he was only a part of the NMMI family for a few years due to his ailing health, he was a much loved figure on campus, known for his sense of humor
1934-1935 Former cadet and gifted artist, Peter Hurd, begins work on a large, five-part mural in the JRT. Painted in egg tempera on a base of gesso, the five scenes, from left to right, depict a Franciscan Friar preaching to Natives- far left, a mounted conquistador- second from left, a family of Natives overlooking the landscape- center, a mounted American scout (second from right), and a scene of covered wagons with a cowboy standing sentry in front of a campfire with a party of Natives riding through a cottonwood grove down towards the river- far right. At 6AM on May 23, 1939, a fire broke out in the JRT. While the building was able to be saved, the worst of the damage occurred in the room with the mural and it was lost to the fire. Few photos of the mural remain today and many of them are featured in various Bronco yearbooks, especially favored in the 1937 edition. While it was suspected that it was an act of arson, the details of the crime remains unsolved to this day
1936 Quarters 2 and 3 are constructed. Quarters 2 (top right) is the home of the Commandant of cadets and their family, and Quarters 3 (bottom right) is the home of the Dean of Academics
1937 As part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program, the Public Works Administration (PWA) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) are called on to help develop NMMI’s campus and as part of that project, new stables large enough to house 140 horses are constructed. Pictured top left are the stables in 1932 and bottom left are the new PWA built stables
1938 Construction begins on the new Headquarters building and it is completed by 1941. It is renamed to Lusk Hall in 1965. Dedicated to COL. Ewing Lusk who served NMMI as an Instructor, high school principal and Superintendent from 1911 until his retirement in 1952.

1938 also marks NMMI’s first accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission

1940 The current Lea Hall (below) is built on the site of the old Headquarters building becoming the third building dedicated to Joseph C. Lea. Pearson Auditorium (left) opens after three years of construction. The auditorium is dedicated to COL. D. Cecil Pearson, who dedicated more than 40 years of his career to the Institute. The auditorium becomes the center for campus events, including assemblies and church services. Today, the auditorium hosts not only NMMI sponsored events, but has also been home to the Roswell Symphony Orchestra since 1960
1941-1945 Over 3,000 cadets and alumni serve in World War II
1947 H.P. Saunders, Jr., retires as Commandant after 31 years of service and Colonel D.C. Pearson retires as Superintendent after 22 years. General Hugh M. Milton is appointed as the new Superintendent (left) and LT COL Thomas B. Stapp is appointed as the new Commandant (below)
1948 NMMI Board of Regents approve the creation of a four year college program
1951 General Milton is called to Active Duty and NMMI Principal Ewing L. Lusk (left) is named acting Superintendent. The last section of Hagerman barracks is also completed
1952 Charles F. Ward (right) replaces Ewing L. Lusk as Superintendent
1952 & 1954 The Broncos win the National Polo Championship against Princeton University in 1952 and again in 1954 against Yale University. By the end of the 1954 academic year, the polo program is discontinued. Across the nation, universities were doing the same. The decisions were born from there being less teams to compete against on the west coast, the cost of travelling across the country and that of general upkeep. Polo does eventually make a comeback as a club sport, but for only two seasons: 1971-1972
1954-1955 Three cadets – Donald Wallace Vertrees, Wood Mullinax Moore and Perry George Vlahopoulos – die in a tragic pool accident due to carbon monoxide inhalation from the dry ice in the pool while preparing for the Final Ball in the Luna Natatorium. A year later, the VMV Hall is dedicated in their honor
1955 NMMI reverts back to a junior college, Superintendent Ward retires and Lieutenant General Hobart R. Gay is appointed as the new Superintendent (left)
1957 Dow Hall is constructed and dedicated to Hiram M. Dow. Dow was a NMMI cadet from 1898-1905. He later went on to practice law in Roswell and was a member of the NMMI Board of Regents, as well as, its President from 1935-1951
1961 McClure Hall opens and is dedicated to instructor Colonel John McClure. McClure Hall is the home of the science and mathematics classes
1963 Superintendent General Hobart Gay retires and Major General Sam W. Agee, USAF (Ret) (right), is selected as the new Superintendent
1964 The original Saunders Barracks, fondly referred to as “the slab”, is constructed and dedicated to H.P. Saunders Jr. (left), who served as an Instructor and also Commandant of Cadets for 31 years. The barracks are later torn down and rebuilt in 1994
1965 The Headquarters building is dedicated to Ewing L. Lusk and the Infirmary is dedicated to longtime NMMI surgeon Dr. I.J. Marshall (right)
1966-1968 Edward W. Colbert, of Colorado Springs, CO., becomes the first African American cadet to matriculate into NMMI. In 1968 Colbert graduates at third in his class and moves onward to law school
1971 The Bronco baseball program is disbanded. While in the early years of NMMI’s history, baseball had played a very important role in the school’s student activities, by the 1950s-1960s the growing intensity of interest in football had all but eclipsed baseball on campus. Pictured left is a photo of the 1905 Bronco baseball team
1971-1973 Major General Agee retires and COL Eben R. Wyles (far left) is appointed interim Superintendent for the 1971-1972 academic year. COL C. Robert Kembel (left) is selected as the new Superintendent in 1972
1975 The Alumni Memorial Chapel is built with contributions from alumni and friends of the Institute
1977 NMMI welcomes back female cadets after a 78 year absence. 25 women matriculate into the Institute this year: fifteen college cadets and ten high school cadets
1977 Superintendent Robert C. Kembel resigns as Superintendent and Brigadier General Gerald Childress is appointed as his replacement
1980 Godfrey Athletic Center opens and is dedicated to L.T. (Lola Thompson) “Babe” Godfrey. Godfrey was not only a former cadet (‘24), he returned to NMMI in 1928 as an assistant coach and an instructor of economics and government in the junior college. He was later promoted to Athletic director and head football coach. Even well into his retirement he was a stakeholder in the Institute and spearheaded efforts to raise money and build the NMMI Alumni Memorial Chapel
1981 Cadet Laquita Hamilton, an African-American woman from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, not only received her commission at graduation, but was named valedictorian of the Junior College class, becoming the first female valedictorian
1981 The Luna Natatorium transitions into the McBride Museum. Pictured left is the large scaled stained glass window overlooking the new museum
1982 The Bronco Football program is placed on a decade long hiatus due to various disagreements regarding the value of the program, including its budgetary weight. Pictured right is from the last Bronco football game of 1982
1983 Bronco Plaza is dedicated
1984 Toles Learning Center begins construction and opens in 1985. It is dedicated to long time member of the NMMI board of regents and former cadet, J. Penrod Toles (pictured far right). Housed within is the new library. It is dedicated to former cadet, Institute Librarian and two-time Pulitzer Prize award-winning author, Paul Horgan (pictured right)
1985 The McBride Museum opens to the public. Pictured left is the entrance exhibit of the museum featuring General Douglas McBride
1989-1990 Superintendent Brigadier General Gerald Childress retires and COL Donald S. Stuart (right) takes over as interim Superintendent. In 1990, LTG Winfield W. Scott Jr. (far right) is selected as the next Superintendent
1991 NMMI recognizes its Centennial with a year-long celebration
1991-1992 The Bronco Baseball and Football programs are brought back from their hiatus. While the baseball program had already received approval from the board to return and the new ballpark was already in construction (right), the football program’s return is due to the efforts of General Winfield Scott in securing board approval to bring back the program as well as securing state funding
1994 Saunders Barracks is torn down and re-built
1996 Superintendent LTG Winfield Scott retires and LTG Robert D. Beckel, USAF (Ret) is appointed as the new Superintendent
1997 Due to the rising costs of insuring the program and horses on campus, the beloved horses of NMMI are auctioned off, the stables are repurposed and all equestrian programs end, including the animal husbandry program, rodeo, hunter-jumper and cavalry. Pictured right is an article from the front page of the Roswell Daily Record, June 13, 1997
1998-1999 The Cadet Corps is led by their first female Regimental Commander, Heather M. Christensen of Roswell, NM
2003-2004 John Lee Gaston White from Houston, Texas, becomes the first African-American Regimental Commander
2004-2005 Luis Aranda Claussen becomes the first Regimental Commander from Mexico
2004 Superintendent LTG Robert D. Beckel, USAF (Ret.) retires and Rear Admiral David R. Ellison (left) becomes the first Naval Flag Officer appointed as Superintendent
2006 The Daniels Leadership Center is constructed (pictured right). The McBride Museum also transitions into a multi-role building housing the Enrollment and Development Center, Alumni Offices, and Cadet Counseling (Luna Hall) which is on the ground floor and the Museum remains on the second floor
2008-2009 Joseph Kim, of San Francisco, CA, becomes the first Asian-American Regimental Commander
2009 Superintendent Ellison retires and Major General Jerry W. Grizzle becomes the first Army National Guard officer named Superintendent (pictured left)
2009-2010 Dow and Luna Halls are renovated and rededicated
2010-2011 Regis Pino, of the Zia Pueblo tribe, becomes the first Native American Regimental Commander
2011 Pearson Auditorium is remodeled and rededicated
2016-2017 Teuaililo Kalala Petelo becomes the fifth female Regimental Commander and the first Native Hawaiian
2019-2020 Cahoon Armory begins a massive remodel
2020 The world-wide pandemic known as COVID-19, or the Coronavirus, reaches NMMI and the Institute makes the decision to send all cadets home for spring break and they are not to return until August. Online learning is instituted across campus for the first time in NMMI’s history. The 2020-2021 fall semester sees strict health protocols, including the mandatory wearing of face masks, COVID-19 screenings (pictured bottom left), smaller class sizes and social distancing. The latter of the two witnessed in the top left photo in a class led by Psychology Instructor MAJ Jessica Martin
2020 NMMI Ballpark undergoes renovations to include adjustable netting and a new facility with a roof to allow players to continue practicing during poor weather
August 2020 Commandant of Cadets, LT COL Jonathan K. Graff Jr., US Army (Ret) (far left) left after 9 years of Institute service, and LT COL Arthur C. Houghtby II, USMC (Ret), takes over as interim Commandant. By November, a new Commandant assumes the position. Colonel Thomas L. Tate, Ed.D., US Army (Ret) (left) is selected to be the 24th Commandant of Cadets.