Charles and Nita Swartz Chair in Mathematical Sciences

The first endowed professorship in mathematical sciences has been established in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Mathematical Sciences.


[From left] NMSU President John Floros stands alongside Nita and Charles Swartz as the couple presents an endowment gift to Dr. Tina Byford of the NMSU Foundation. The celebration ceremony on July 17 recognized the first endowed professor in the mathematics department, Dr. Dante DeBlassie. Also pictured are DeBlassie, Dean Enrico Pontelli and Mark Gladden.

Math faculty at the award ceremony

 

The Charles and Nita Swartz Endowed Professorship in Mathematical Sciences is funded by Charles and Nita Swartz, long-time supporters of NMSU with a strong connection to the university.

Charles, an NMSU professor emeritus from the Department of Mathematical Sciences, and Nita, a retired Las Cruces elementary and middle school math teacher, were motivated to establish the professorship to ensure the strength and development of the department into the future. The professorship provides a continuous source of financial support to fund research activities, salary enhancement, and other scholarly expenses for a valued faculty member in the Department of Mathematical Sciences.

“This department has a magnificent reputation and we wanted to create a permanent investment in it that would enhance the prestige of the program and positively impact faculty and students” Charles Swartz said of their inspiration to establish the professorship.

The couple expects the endowed professorship will help retain quality faculty, promote a greater interest in STEM among NMSU students and attract talented graduate students to the department.

The first awardee is Dr. Dante DeBlassie, Associate Department Head of the Mathematical Sciences Department. DeBlassie graduated with his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but before he was Dr. DeBlassie or an endowed professor, he was a student in one of Charles’ math courses as an undergraduate at NMSU.

“Dante survived one of my classes, so we know he can persevere” Charles joked during a ceremony to honor the new professorship and its inaugural awardee on July 17, 2019, where he and Nita presented a check to the NMSU Foundation.

“I could not be more pleased by this substantial new investment in our faculty,” said Enrico Pontelli, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “It is well known that NMSU’s Department of Mathematical Sciences is among the very best in the nation, and the new Swartz Professorship will now give us an added edge in faculty recruitment and retention.”

This endowment extends Nita and Charles’ history of giving back to the university, which was preceded by two endowed scholarships they funded in the College of Arts and Sciences during NMSU’s 2018 Giving Tuesday.

The Charles Swartz Endowed Scholarship helps graduate students in the mathematical sciences, and the Nita Swartz Endowed Scholarship supports international women graduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The couple, who has traveled to over 80 countries together, has seen firsthand the impact of education across the globe and hopes their scholarships will aid underfunded graduate students as they pursue their academic goals.

“Education is the key to the problems this world is facing,” says Nita, “and these students work very hard and are so worthy of a little bit of help. You can come to NMSU and get a good education – and there is help.”

“We are grateful to Charles and Nita for their generous support towards the NMSU community over the years,” said Dr. Tina Byford, Interim Vice President for University Advancement. “The endowed professorship is an excellent example of their overall dedication to students and faculty at NMSU.”