A Message from the Dean

image of DeanPhame Camarena, a first-generation college student and native Californian, has been selected to lead the William Conroy Honors College at New Mexico State University. NMSU Provost Carol Parker announced Camarena’s appointment Friday, July 17. He will be the college’s third dean. Camerana’s first day as dean will be Aug. 16. (Courtesy photo)

NMSU Provost Carol Parker announced Camarena’s appointment Friday. He will be the college’s third dean, succeeding Miriam Chaiken, who retired this week. Camerana’s first day as dean will be Aug. 16.

“I am excited for the opportunity to build on the exceptional foundation of high-quality honors education already offered by the William Conroy Honors College at New Mexico State University,” Camarena said. “At this time of historical crisis, I understand the importance of ensuring that the Honors College serves the needs of the whole university, while supporting students in the honors community so they can aim higher and achieve more meaningfully.”

Camarena was born in San Jose, California, and earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in human development and family studies from Pennsylvania State University.

He has more than 15 years of administrative experience, most recently as director of the Central Michigan University Honors Program, a position he held for the past 10 years. Camarena has been at CMU since 1994, following stops at Purdue University and South Dakota State University. While at CMU, Camarena was the founding coordinator of the First Year Experience Program and founding director of the National Scholarship Program, and served three years as chair of the Department of Human Environmental Studies.

“I am very pleased that Dr. Camarena will be joining NMSU. He has directly relevant administrative and leadership experience acquired while leading the Honors Program at Central Michigan University,” Parker said. “Dr. Camarena has demonstrated that he can successfully recruit talented students, raise funds for high impact programs and recruit faculty from multiple disciplines to teach honors courses. His experience will position the Honors College for a smooth transition in leadership in a time of great fiscal and societal challenges. Dr. Camarena will be a wonderful addition to NMSU’s leadership team.”

Camarena said that as leader of the Honors Program at CMU, he drew upon his personal experiences as a first-generation college student in an honors program.

“Honors education helped to transform my life and now it is my sincerest privilege to continue that same spirit of transformative learning as the dean of the William Conroy Honors College,” Camarena said. “Even in the face of historical crisis, I am confident that the Honors College will continue to ensure student success as it serves the NMSU community. I am excited to get to campus quickly and look forward to building new relationships with both partners across campus and students in the honors community.