NMSU should be praised for Domenici effort

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New Mexico State University successfully pulled off a coup in taking the lead on The Pete V. Domenici Legacy, a multifaceted effort to remember the work of New Mexico’s longest-serving senator and help advance his goals in the future.

Shortly after Sen. Pete Domenici announced in October that he would retire at the end of this year because of a degenerative brain disease, it appeared that there would be some fighting between NMSU and the University of New Mexico over Domenici’s archives.

New Mexico State won what turned out to be not much of a battle because of the vision of one man — former NMSU President Michael Martin.

Martin moved quickly to make the case for the housing of all of Domenici’s papers and other memorabilia at NMSU. He made plans to host the annual Domenici Public Policy Conference, construct a building on campus to honor the senator, form the Domenici Institute and publish a book chronicling the senator’s service.

Domenici liked the plan, so instead of having his archives housed at his alma matter and hometown college, he agreed to have them housed 300 miles south.

The inaugural conference was impressive. In this hotly contested election year, it’s rare to have so many high-ranking elected officials set aside partisan rhetoric long enough to speak honestly about a man who has done a lot for New Mexico.

The list of conference speakers, which included Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut and former Secretary of State James Baker, was impressive. And though much of this year’s conference was devoted to praising Domenici, officials promise to focus more in future years on policy issues and finding solutions to the problems Domenici tried to tackle during his career.

It’s a worthy goal. Martin and NMSU should be commended for attempting it, and for pulling off a successful inaugural conference.

One thought on “NMSU should be praised for Domenici effort

  1. Setting aside some of Pete’s “sins” as a conservative Republican, he really has been a terrific Senator for the people of New Mexico, as well as for the people of the nation who have benefited from his work.

    As someone who has worked in a field that he has bravely championed–mental health–I personally experienced and came to have a great deal of admiration for his compassion and his commitment to trying to get mental health services on par with other diseases in medical care. People don’t know it, but he quietly supported (both financially and through his legislative work) some of the most “liberal” social welfare organizations in New Mexico, such as the struggling domestic violence, child abuse prevention and community mental health agencies we have right here in Dona Ana county.

    And anyone who works for or has a family member employed through one of the military bases (or national research laboratories) owes a continued debt of gratitude to Pete’s vigilance and willingness to cross the political aisle in defending our state’s fantastic ability to support our nations’s defense–especially during the last “Rumsfeld reign of incompetent terror”.

    God bless him and his lovely wife, and here’s hoping they enjoy a long, healthy and much deserved vacation in his retirement.