James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service

2020 James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service Honoree

Randy Farmer, Class of 1977

For the past three decades, Randy Farmer has been involved with NMSU as one of its most loyal and committed supporters. Randy’s activities are not motivated by the opportunity for financial reward, but rather to build relationships and to serve his family, alma mater and community. 

Randy came to NMSU from Los Alamos and has a BS in Agriculture and Horticulture and an Honorary Master’s degree in Agriculture. His ongoing contributions to the plant and environmental sciences department aid with student travel, internships and instructional programs. Recently, Randy and his wife Cindy were named Outstanding PES Alumni in the College of ACES, and he was also awarded Citizen of the Year from the Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce in 2002. 

The “Greenhouse” in Las Cruces is Randy’s successful landscaping business that involved building playgrounds for schools, swimming pools, and donating over $50,000 worth of plants to the City of Las Cruces. Randy is always willing to hire NMSU students, both before and after they graduate. As a former horticulture student commented, “The list of former employees of The Greenhouse reads like a Who’s Who of New Mexico horticulture.”

Randy is now a partner with Genesis Builders, Inc. helping businesses reshape and grow. Randy is also very involved in his church where he serves on leadership boards and funds youth programs.  

A member of the Sam Steel Society, Randy has made major contributions to The NMSU Landscape Garden and served as the driving force for the Landscape Technician Program at DACC. He organized fellow alumni to help endow the Dr. and Mrs. Cotter Scholarship, the Bernard Corley Memorial Scholarship, and encouraged his father-in-law (Dr. Emroy Shannon) to endow the Shannon Family Internship Scholarship. Since 2017 Randy and Cindy have provided matching money each year for Giving Tuesday to match 5 scholarship donations, and as a direct result, many scholarships have hit the mark. Randy and Cindy also have an endowed scholarship that aids 5-6 students in PES each year. Most recently, the couple donated 12 Cedars of Lebanon trees to NMSU to honor the story tellers of the Las Cruces area.  

Randy and his wife Cindy have two daughters, Laura and Lisa, all of which are also graduates of NMSU. Randy and Cindy’s love story started at a flower judging competition during their undergraduate studies. 

About the Award

Since 1966, the New Mexico State University Alumni Association has honored alumni with the James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service.

The award is given annually to someone who has demonstrated outstanding support to NMSU through civic, humanitarian or professional support for NMSU. The award instills the tradition of excellence NMSU has upheld throughout the years.

“It’s a shining star. It is a once-a-year award that’s given by the NMSU Foundation for extreme service to New Mexico State University,” James Libbin said, former Dean for the College of ACES.

A committee of the NMSU Alumni Association Executive Council selects the award recipient according to that person's support of NMSU, involvement with the university and their civic and professional service, after graduating from NMSU. Nominations for this award remain active for three years following the date of nomination unless the nominee is selected for the award. The recipient must have attended NMSU or be an active member of the Alumni Association before the date of selection. Alumni who are members of the NMSU faculty or staff are also eligible.

This award is typically presented during the annual Homecoming festivities at the Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner on Friday evening, but this year we are moving the celebration to the Spring 2021 term. More details to come.

Nominations for the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Awards will be open from January 22 through May 15, 2021.

Who was James F. Cole?

Bill Cantrell, '67, was especially proud to receive the James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service at because he studied under Cole.

"James Cole was a cotton farmer who taught Agricultural Economics 100. He also assisted President Corbett," Cantrell recalled. Cantrell came to NMSU at age 30 in 1964, and Cole was one of his professors his first semester. "I remember that he was so supportive of this person who was coming back to school and was as old as some of the professors. The first test of the semester was in his class, and I made the best grade. He stopped class to congratulate me on how well I'd done." Cole was always interested in what his students were doing and his door was always open, Cantrell said. As a student, Cantrell also was impressed that Cole was a "real-live producer teaching about agricultural economics. Today I appreciate that more than I did then."  -- Lena Parsons

YearRecipient(s) NameYearRecipient(s) Name
2020Randy Farmer '76
2019Dr. Van Bullock '72 '742018Dr. Patty Lopez '80, '82, '89
2017Frank A. Seidel '812016Dino Camunez '81
2015Morgan Nelson '412014Lou Henson '55, '56
Mary Henson
Carol Smallwood '83
2013J. Paul Taylor '42, '54, '632012Don Beasley '72
2011Michael Rogers '73
Dan Perry '62
2010Jerean Camunez Hutchinson '79
2009Shari Jones '80, '812008Dave Cooley '78
Betsey Cooley '78
2007E. Larry Lujan '762006Frank Dubois '73, '78
2005Jim T. Dunlap '54, '672004Gary Cataldo '70
2003Tomas Chavez '542002Julie Hall
2001Jack Ward2000John Jack Oestreicher '71
1999Walter Gerald Hines '66, '671998William "Bill" Sauble '70
1997William "Bill" Cantrell '671996Rosco Vaugn '65, '69, '84
1995Laura Coniff '741994W.K. Bill Shriver '58
1993Betty Sims Solt '591992Gertrude Kretek '52
Geraldine Kretek '52
1991Kent McIntosh '411990Blance Lear Hubbard
1989Marshall Scott '62, '641988Martin D. Alexander '60
1987B.J. Bob Porter '51, '561986Lombre Sue Hepburn '48
1985Edward Gregg '331984Larry Ramirez '74
1983George Dawson '501982Angie Stroup '66
1981Horace Hubert1980Archie Beckett '51
1979Leon Wagley '47
Anthony Romo '52, '54
1978Helen Strickland Hampton '40, '54
1977J. Henry Gustafson '401976George Ray Smith '52
1975Carolyn Henry '631974Albert Burleson '44
1973Kathleen Kit Elliot '621972Melton Shelton '57, '60
1971Dick Reeves '251970Edward Oliver '52
1969Albert Vallin '33
Fred P. Geibel '32
1968No Recipient
1967Edward Wallace '521966Dorothy Cole '70, '78