The New Mexico Military Institute, located in Roswell, NM, is the nation’s only state-supported co-educational military boarding school offering an integrated four-year college-preparatory high school and university parallel transferable junior college.
On September 3, 1891, the Goss Military Institute (GMI) was founded through the efforts of Captain James C. Lea, Mabel Doss Day Lea, and Colonel Robert Goss. With an initial enrollment of 28 students, including female day students, the school was the first in New Mexico to adopt military features.
On February 23, 1893, GMI was declared a territorial school and renamed the “New Mexico Military Institute”. However, there were no funds appropriated by the Territorial Legislature and the Institute suspended operations for two years.
On February 13, 1895, an appropriations bill passed by the Territorial Legislature provided a bond issue and maintenance funds contingent on the provisioning of a 40-acre tract of land for the school. Mr. James John Hagerman, a local industrialist that spearheaded advancements in the Pecos Valley Railroad, mining, and large scale irrigation, deeded the needed 40 acres of property on North Hill, the Institute’s current location, and the school became a fully recognized territorial entity under the Legislature.
A new $12,000 physical plant was built that housed 105 male students during school year 1896. At that time the curriculum consisted of as many as eight years of academic work and students were organized into two cadet companies.
In 1906, the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) was introduced. In 1909, the War Department designated the Institute as one of the ten distinguished military schools in the nation, a distinction the Institute has earned annually since. Being so designated enables the Institute to annually nominate eight deserving cadets to attend the nation’s military academies. Today, the Institute sends approximately 80 cadets annually to attend the nation’s service academies through its Service Academy Preparatory Program, the largest of the five military junior colleges serving the nation.
In 1910, NMMI was singled out in the New Mexico Enabling Act as a beneficiary of land-grant status and the revenue provided for by the Enabling legislation and the prior enacted Ferguson Act of 1898. The New Mexico Constitution further solidified NMMI’s state status by identifying it a “state educational institution.”
In 1915, the Institute took on its modern form when a junior college was inaugurated. The Institute now had a four-year high school and a two-year junior college and was quickly becoming recognized throughout New Mexico and the nation as a pioneer in education and the development of young people.
During World War I, the Institute sent 320 young men to the defense of their nation. Of these young men, 163 served as officers. Many of those who served received distinguished service recognition and medals of high order.
In 1917, the Institute’s high school became a charter accredited school of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. In 1932, NMMI’s junior college was accredited by the Higher Learning commission of the North Central Association. NMMI has since remained the only state-supported, nationally accredited, college preparatory military high school and junior college in the United States.
During World War II, Institute graduates saw service in every theater of the war. Over 150 Institute graduates gave the last full measure of devotion to their country. Institute alumnus John “Red” Morgan was awarded the Medal of Honor, and other alumni distinguished themselves in combat.
In 1948, the Institute inaugurated a four-year liberal arts program offering a bachelor degree. The school specialized in preparing students for government service. Many NMMI graduates went on to distinguish themselves by their service to their nation as military officers and civil servants. In 1956, the four-year program was discontinued and the school reverted back to a high school and junior college.
During the Korean and Vietnam War, the Institute again sent its sons off to conflict. And, again Institute graduates gave of themselves for the nation.
In 1966, the Institute updated its enrollment policies and opened its doors to African-American students. Edward W. Colbert, of Colorado Springs, CO., becomes the first African American cadet to matriculate into NMMI. In 1968 Colbert graduates third in his class and moves onward to law school and by the 1990s, served as the Assistant Secretary for Freedom of Information Act matters on the Commodities Futures Trading Commission.
In 1977, the Institute once again updated its enrollment policies by allowing female students on campus again. This time, not as day-students, but full-time female students returned to the Institute and their numbers have steadily grown. Women now number about 20 percent of the Corps population. By 1981, the Institute declared its first female, and African-American valedictorian, Laquita Hamilton from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
1998 saw another first, as the Corps of Cadets was led by its first woman Regimental Commander, Heather Christensen of Roswell. Since then six other women have served in the top cadet spot: Daniell Valerio (2002) of New Mexico, Lindsey Schuda (2003) of California, Sara Brown (2014) of New Mexico, Teuaililo Kalala Petelo (2017) of Hawaii, and Katianne Flury (2018) of Texas.
In 2003, the Institute appointed its first African-American cadet to the position of Regimental Commander, Cadet John White of Houston, Texas.
In 2004, Cadet Luis Aranda was named Regimental Commander, earning him the honor of being the first RC from Mexico. Since then, one other Mexican national has served in the top cadet spot, Diego Salido Alejandri (2020). Both of these exemplary cadets hail from Hermosillo, Sonora.
2004 provided another first as NMMI welcomed Rear Admiral David R. Ellison, as Superintendent. And, in January, 2005, NMMI welcomed back Brigadier General Richard V. Geraci, a 1975 graduate of the Institute, as Commandant.
In 2009, Cadet Joseph Kim, of San Francisco, California, was named Regimental Commander, earning him the honor of being the first Asian-American RC.
In 2010, another first came with the installation of a National Guard Flag Officer as Superintendent. Major General Jerry W. Grizzle, US Army National Guard (Retired), took on the daunting task of leading the school out of a decade long decline in enrollment. School year 2011-12 saw MG Grizzle’s efforts bear fruit as enrollment climbed to 960.
In 2011, Cadet Regis Pino, of the Zia Pueblo, was named Regimental Commander, earning him the honor of being the first Native American RC.
Between 2009 and 2021, the campus slowly receives a facelift in the way of the renovations and rededications of Dow Hall (2009-2010), Luna Hall (2009-2010), Pearson Auditorium (2011), Cahoon Armory (2019-current), and the NMMI Ballpark (2020).
The academic years of 2019-2020 & 2020-2021 was indeed a trying year, as it was for the whole world. The world-wide pandemic known as the corona-virus, or COVID-19, reaches NMMI and the Institute makes the decision to send all cadets home for spring break of 2020 and they are not to return until the beginning of the following academic year, in 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, smaller class sizes, social distancing, and a campus closed to the public.
2020-2021 also sees a change in command. In August of 2020, the Commandant of Cadets, LT COL Jonathan K. Graff Jr., US Army (Ret) 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) is selected to be the 24th Commandant of Cadets.