- The Washington Times - Monday, December 31, 2007

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - The sheep corralled at the west end of New Mexico State University seem more interested in getting into the barn and out of the rain, but the cattle penned up nearby are too busy watching students walk by to notice the elements.

Livestock have had a presence on campus since NMSU was founded as a land-grant university nearly 120 years ago, and the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association wants to make sure it stays that way.

The group, which represents 1,500 members from across the state, recently passed a resolution stating its desire that the livestock facilities remain in their current location on campus. The resolution was introduced by Ty Bays, a Grant County rancher and NMSU graduate.

“When I went to school there, we’d go into the classroom, start on a lecture and we’d walk literally a few hundred feet out and get hands-on experience,” he said. “You don’t see that at every university and in fact, it’s disappearing at a lot of our land-grant universities.”

Mr. Bays said he thinks New Mexico State’s livestock pens and agricultural fields are what make it unique.

“And I want to preserve that for this guy,” he said, pointing to his 8-year-old son.

Lowell Catlett, dean of the College of Agriculture and Home Economics, said livestock is part of New Mexico State’s heritage.

“From Day One when we did the master plan, the architects and master planners and I were in unanimous agreement that the animals are an integral part so they will stay on the campus,” he said. “They’re a unique part of what this university is about.”

NMSU has been criticized over plans that allow the city of Las Cruces to build a convention center on land leased from the university. Critics have said the land could have been better used by the university for agriculture and research.

Mr. Catlett said he hopes convention-goers will be intrigued by what NMSU has to offer, and also hopes families continue to visit the campus. On Saturdays, he said, he often sees parents with their children looking at the horses and cows in the livestock pens.

“The land and animal facilities will be part of New Mexico State University for a very long time,” he said.

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