At the end of this month, Western New Mexico University’s Gallup Graduate Studies Center (WNMU-GGSC) will say goodbye to Chair and Professor, Dr. Patricia Maguire who has been connected to the school since the early days of its establishment in Gallup more than twenty years ago. Helping to provide higher education for locals seeking to improve themselves and their communities has been passionate work. At the end of a significant career, Maguire has no intentions of quitting.
After serving in Jamaica during a tumultuous time, from 1977 to 1979, Maguire and her husband Cal Marshall returned to the US, but with a passion for justice and equality. After a short time, during which Maguire began her doctoral studies at the Center for International Education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, the couple began to look internationally and with the Indian Health Service (IHS) for job openings. Marshall accepted a nursing position with IHS and the couple moved to Gallup in 1984.
Almost immediately, Maguire dug in and started teaching women’s studies at UNM-Gallup as an adjunct professor and volunteering with Battered Families Services while working on her dissertation. Meanwhile, in 1984, WNMU developed an arm of their Extended University in Gallup to offer graduate and professional development courses for area teachers, administrators, and special educators. In 1988 Dr. Maguire was hired as its third director.
Though she jokes about receiving nothing but a Rolodex and a box of files upon taking the job with WNMU, the challenges of operating an organization at the periphery have been ongoing throughout the past 23 years. Fighting for resources in one of the poorest counties in the country requires some creativity and a strong belief that this community deserves them. For example, after ten years of occupying various spaces around town, the school needed a permanent facility, but with a state-wide freeze on bricks and mortar for new building at the time, GGSC found a builder who was willing to construct a building and rent it to the school.
As elements of education shift and change, being attentive to the needs of the community has also been paramount. GGSC offers a variety of bachelors and masters degrees in an array of fields, including education, educational leadership, counseling, social work and psychology. Weekend and online classes cater to working adults who are committed to keeping up in their field or are passionate about a new career. Good relationships have formed with the local school district and Teach For America. And the Gallup Center was one of the first to collaborate with Peace Corps in offering the Fellows/USA program to former Volunteers for reduced tuition in their graduate courses.
Dr. Maguire looks back at her years at GGSC with pride, but is quick to say, “Nothing of value happens alone. You have to have a team.” WNMU’s School of Education recently received the highest level of accreditation in the state from The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). This is due, in no small part, to the team of faculty and staff who have trained hundreds, if not thousands, of local teachers, counselors and principals. Throughout all the programs offered, the faculty has weaved in concerns about social justice and equity with excellence in education, along with a blend of theory and practice. Knowing the good work that graduates are out there doing in Gallup and in reservation communities is the greatest reward for Dr. Maguire, who says, “That’s where the beat goes on.”
Other than a one-year stint in Sitka, Alaska, the Maguire-Marshalls have enjoyed living in Gallup, a place where they’ve found meaningful work, a diverse community with great people, and an ideal environment in which to raise their two daughters, Molly and Megan.
Dr. Maguire has deliberately put off planning for retirement, wanting to stay focused on finishing the school year, but imagines that she and her husband will volunteer locally in some combination with international work. Her concerns for justice and equality have not faded and she anticipates leaving her office in order to pursue interests in food sustainability, hunger, and adult literacy. For Dr. Patricia Maguire, retirement is not the end of work, but simply a new setting in which to make a difference.