Dr. David H. Townsend

David H. Townsend was born and raised in West Texas. He graduated from Seagraves High School in 1949 and spent his first year of college at Eastern New Mexico University at Portales. After a three-year stint in the Marine Corps—one of which was in Korea—Townsend returned to ENMU where he majored in history. He earned a BA degree in 1956 and an MA in 1958. In 1979, he earned an EdD in community college administration from Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

Dr. Townsend spent 35 years in the educational field. He taught in public schools in New Mexico and in California. He was associated with New Mexico State University in Alamogordo for over 30 years. As a classroom teacher he held every faculty rank from part-time instructor to full professor. An administrator for nine years, Dr. Townsend served as Campus Director of NMSU/A from 1978 to 1982. Among the teaching awards Dr. Townsend has won are the Valley Forge Freedoms Foundation Award, the President Gerald Thomas Teaching Grant, the Don Roush Award for Teaching Excellence, and the NMSU/A Teaching Excellence Award. He was chosen among the first group of New Mexico Eminent Scholars designated by the state’s Commission on Higher Education.

Active in community service, Townsend served in the Constitutional Convention in 1969 and represented District 53 in the New Mexico House of Representatives from 1991 to 1995. He served on the Board of Regents for the New Mexico School for the Visually Handicapped for twelve years and was that board’s chairman from 1975 to 1978, and again in 1983. Among the recognitions he has received are the Alamogordo Citizen of the Year in 1977, the local and district Sertoma Service to Mankind Awards in 1982, and the New Mexico Bar Association Non-Lawyer Distinguished Service Award in 1988. The New Mexico Library Association awarded Dr. Townsend its Legislator of the Year Award in 1992 and again in 1995. He received the White House Conference on Library and Information Services Task Force State Legislator Award in 1995. Also in 1995, he was selected as the National Education Association’s Legislative Friend of Education.

In 1999, Dr. Townsend was appointed as one of the co-chairmen of the legislature’s Education Initiatives and Accountability Taskforce. After two years of intense work, the taskforce produced a comprehensive plan for educational reform in New Mexico. The plan was passed by the 2001 session of the legislature but was vetoed by the governor. The work of the taskforce was continued with the establishment of the Legislative School Study Committee’s Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Educational Reform, which Dr. Townsend also co-chaired. The educational reform plan put forward by that subcommittee was enacted by the legislature and signed by the governor in 2003. Dr. Townsend’s work on the education reform measure was recognized by the passage of a Senate Memorial recognizing his efforts. Dr. Townsend was a recipient of the New Mexico Distinguished Public Service Award in 2005.

Dr. Townsend, who was recently chosen as Alamogordo’s official historian, is a professor emeritus of history at NMSU/A. His proudest honor is that the library at that institution is the David H. Townsend Library. He is delighted that it is not the David H. Townsend Memorial Library.

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New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute
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