NMSU emeritus professor, wife create transformational scholarship for physics students

WRITER: anmendez
CONTACT: Tina Byford, 575-646-1613, tbyford

A loyal Aggie couple has established a new, transformational scholarship to assist graduate students studying physics at New Mexico State University. George H. and Barbara Goedecke funded the scholarship with the goal to make NMSU’s physics program more competitive with other universities.

“With this gift, the Goedeckes are only growing the number of NMSU students they have helped and will help for many years to come,” said Tina Byford, interim vice president of University Advancement. “For more than 50 years, this couple has taught, mentored and nurtured hundreds of students. We are humbled by their continued gifts of time and resources, and we’re certain our students have already experienced the benefits of their commitment.”

The duo first arrived in Las Cruces in 1961 when George was hired at NMSU as one of five new faculty members. On campus, he completed three terms in the Faculty Senate, including two years as chair. By 1987, he earned the role of physics department head where he served until his retirement in 1995. George says his greatest achievement was rebuilding the number of graduate assistantships available for students studying physics at NMSU.

“With physics, you have to pursue graduate training to be considered for employment,” George said. “And, I have seen how graduate assistantships make NMSU competitive because they recruit talented students who are offered the same research assistance to study somewhere else. That’s why Barbara and I decided to support graduate students – to help them fund their next and final step in their academic career at NMSU.”

Barbara, who earned her master’s degree in biology from NMSU, volunteered her time with the physics department and the local community for many years. She helped type papers and proofread textbooks authored by faculty, she taught as a substitute biology, chemistry and physics teacher at Las Cruces area high schools and she served as an officer in many capacities, including as president, for the League of Women Voters of Greater Las Cruces. To the physics department, she is best known for her ability to complement “George’s brain food with her delicious, solid food at many department get-togethers.”

“For over three decades, George and Barbara provided motivation and emotional support to our students,” said Heinz Nakotte, interim physics department head. “The Goedecke’s scholarship will help to continue that spirit.”

In honor of the duo’s gift and long-time commitment to NMSU, the Department of Physics named its conference room as the “Dr. and Mrs. George H. Goedecke Conference Room.”

“We had honestly only been trying to help out these students,” George said. “After all of these years, we very much appreciate being recognized in this way.”


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