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Transition Advisory Committee

A Transition Advisory Committee for the College of Health, Education, and Social Transformation, chaired by Interim Dean Pichon, was formed in July 2021. The committee membership is made up of faculty, staff and students of all departments and units within the college. 

The Transition Advisory committee is charged with guiding and assisting with various projects at the direction of the dean. These projects include: 

  • the development of goals and a college mission statement that reflect the aspirations that motivated the establishment of the new college;
  • the development of an organizational leadership and administrative structure for the new college, which could include development of job descriptions for newly created positions;
  • the development of a workplace culture that reflects the goals, mission, values, and aspirations of the new college, and fosters a sense of belonging and cooperation throughout the new college; and
  • undertaking a college SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges).  

Transition Advisory Committee Members

David G. Ortiz Canseco, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Dr. David G. Ortiz is an Associate Professor for the Sociology Department and Faculty Fellow for the Center for Latin American and Border Studies (CLABS). His areas of specialization are Social Movements, Civic Engagement, Time-Diffusion of Social Processes, Political Sociology, Digital Media, Latin America, and Research Methodology.

Gladys De Necochea, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Counseling and Educational Psychology

Dr. Gladys De Necochea received her doctorate in Counseling Psychology (APA approved) from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with specializations in career development, cross-cultural counseling and corporate psychology.

Dr. De Necochea has considerable experience providing career development consultation to the workforces employed by major US corporations and extensive academic administrative experience providing leadership to divisions of Student Affairs/Student Services and Academic Affairs in institutions of higher education.

Juanita Hannan, Ph.D.

Dr. Juannita Hannan headshotCo-Director of Research and Budgeting; College Associate Professor
Research and Budgeting Center; Education Leadership and Administration

Juanita Hannan is a Ph. D.  graduate from the College of Engineering at NMSU and has worked for the former College of Education for 19 years.

Teresa Keller, Ph.D., RN

Dean-Keller-Profile-Pic.jpgInterim Associate Dean
School of Nursing

Dr. Keller is an Interim Associate Dean for Academics with the College of HEST.  She is a faculty member with the School of Nursing.

Patrick Mendoza

Patrick-Mendoza1-1-256x250.jpgStudent Program Coordinator
Dean's Office

Mr. Mendoza is a student program coordinator, faculty, student organization advisor, and a student at NMSU trying to make a difference.

Henrietta Williams Pichon, Ph.D

NMSU_Pichon_PanoMag_0091321-2.jpgInterim Dean
College of Health, Education, & Social Transformation

In addition to serving as the interim dean, Dr. Pichon holds a faculty position in Educational Leadership and Administration within the School of Teacher Preparation, Administration, and Leadership.

Amanda Romero

Executive Assistant 
Dean's Office, College of Health, Education, & Social Transformation

Ms. Romero is a Native New Mexican, almost life-long resident of Las Cruces, and a proud first-generation Aggie who has worked for NMSU for 14 years.

Joan Wilson, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Communication Disorders

Dr. Esse Wilson received a Ph.D. in Linguistics with a Concentration in Speech and Hearing Sciences and an M.S. in Speech and Hearing Sciences from the University of New Mexico. She completed her B.A. at the University of Minnesota Duluth. She also has more than 15 years of experience as an early intervention and school-based speech-language pathologist practicing in New Mexico. 

Abel Covarrubias, MA


Abel Covarrubias is a native of New Mexico and works on behalf of the infants and toddlers of New Mexico.  Abel and his wife, Monica have three daughters (Alexa, Avery & Nyla).   He is passionate about philanthropy and has completed mission trips to Ecuador and Nicaragua.  Abel enjoys running half marathons and spending time with family. 

Abel is actively involved in various boards, including Hearts for Autism, Las Cruces Catholic School Board of Trustees, US Bank Community Advisory Board, Leaders Circle/Success Partnership, Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico, NMSU College of Education Community Advisory Board and the National Board of Zero To Three.

Abel received a Master of Arts Degree in Special Education/ Communication Disorders from New Mexico State University. He recently completed the Executive Certificate in Transformational Non-profit Leadership from the University of Norte Dame, Mendoza College of Business.  Abel is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer for Aprendamos Intervention Team, PA (Aprendamos), a company that is committed to making a meaningful difference in the lives of babies, children, and families.

Guadalupe (Lupita) Duran


Ms. Duran is a senior majoring in Communication Disorders with a minor in Spanish. She is currently the president of the NMSU National Student Speech Language and Hearing Association Chapter for students pursuing a career in Speech Language Pathology or Audiology. 

Cecilia Hernandez, Ph.D.

College Associate Professor
School of TPAL

Dr. Cecilia Hernandez is a College Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction in the School of TPAL. She teaches elementary and secondary science methods courses and infuses multiculturalism into those courses. She received the Distinguished Dissertation Award in 2013 at the Annual Meeting of the Association of Teacher Educators.

Dr. Hernandez earned her doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on science education in May 2011 at Kansas State University. Her dissertation, “The Extent to which Latina/o Pre-service Teachers Demonstrate Culturally Responsive Teaching Practices during Science and Mathematics Instruction,” focused on 12 non-traditional, linguistically diverse teachers in rural areas and how they negotiated culturally responsive teaching practices in science classrooms during their student-teaching experience.

While pursuing her doctorate, Hernandez worked in the Kansas State University Office of Diversity. She has a bachelor’s and master’s from Texas Tech University in biology.

Jill McDonald, Ph.D.

Associate Dean of Research and Community Engagement; Professor ; Director of Southwest Institute for Health Disparities Research
Pubic Health Sciences

Associate Dean McDonald is with expertise and special interest in cancer epidemiology, health disparities in the US-Mexico border population and reproductive health surveillance.

Anna Nelson, LCSW, PH.D. Candidate

Anna Nelson headshotCollege Assistant Professor; Student
School of Social Work; Education Leadership and Administration

Ms. Nelson, LCSW, is faculty with the School of Social Work at NMSU. Her research interests are focused in the promotion of students’ sense of mattering through critical trauma-guided systems of higher education which center students’ cultural/identity capital, resilience and resistance while acknowledging their experiences with oppression.

Dénise Rodriguez-Strawn, Ph.D.

College Assistant Professor & TPAL Doctoral Programs Coordinator
School of Teacher Preparation, Administration, & Leadership (TPAL); Educational Leadership and Administration Program

Dr. Dénise Rodriguez-Strawn is a College Assistant Professor in Educational Leadership and Administration at New Mexico State University and she focuses on diversity, social justice, equitable opportunities for Latinas in academia, LatCrit, mentoring and femtoring as an intervention tool in higher education, and first-generation Latina college persistence.

Larissa True, Ph.D

Larissa-True-profile-pic.pngAssociate Professor

Dr. Larissa True is an Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology. Her areas of expertise are Motor Development, Statistics, and Research Methods. Dr. True earned a PhD in Kinesiology with a concentration in Motor Development from Michigan State University. Dr. True was previously appointed at the State University of New York – Cortland (2014 – 2020).

New College Facts

What is the purpose of the new college?

The College of Health, Education, and Social Transformation will be a high-profile academic home for work in the fields of health, education, and the social sciences. It will also support students, faculty, and staff whose efforts are aimed at improving individual, societal, and policy outcomes within these disciplines.

How will current programs be impacted?

The combining of these three units will not impact currently offered programs, pre-existing authorizations or accreditation of programs, enrollments and other programs of study, faculty hiring or promotion and tenure standards.

How will the cost savings be used?

Salary savings will be invested into growing the new college by creating new faculty positions within the new college, and to provide additional resources for research and potential new academic degrees.

How does this support NMSU's strategic goals?

The college supports each of NMSU's Leads 2025 strategic goals, which include enhancing student success and social mobility, elevating research and creative activity, amplifying extension and outreach, and building a robust university system.

What is social transformation?

The college will serve as a regional leader for identifying gaps that lead to disparities in health, education, and socio-economic outcomes. The college's faculty can work with community partners to design and provide research and academic programs to education future leaders in policy making through evidence-based practices.

Who will lead the new college?

Dr. Henrietta Pichon will step into the role of interim dean as a search committee begins work to find a permanent dean. The new college will merge three units currently under interim leadership — the College of Education, College of Health and Social Services and the Department of Sociology — and therefore reduce some administrative positions and provide a cost savings to the university.

What went into this decision?

Provost Carol Parker and the academic leadership of the units involved hosted a number of listening sessions, town halls and focus groups with faculty and staff, and ranked-choice survey that included several options for realignment were presented to those units. The proposal was tailored in response to input received. The Board of Regents made the ultimate decision to proceed with the administrative merger. An advisory committee of students, faculty, and staff will provide input during implementation.