Chambers Lecture Series

Norm and Monever Chambers

The Chambers Lecture Series was established through the generosity of Norman C. Chambers MBA’82 and Monever Chambers. From all walks of life, speakers offer an inside look at how to remain ethical and driven in a modern society even in the face of adversity and obstacles. Prominent Chambers guests have included Tom Brokaw, American Television Journalist; author of Orange Is the New Black, Piper Kerman; and Jose Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and undocumented immigrant.

SPRING 2020

Susan Martinez

Susana Martinez
Governor of New Mexico (2011-2019)

Bridging the Political Divide

Tuesday, March 31, 2020
6:00 PM | Gasson Hall, Room 100

In 2010, Susana Martinez was elected governor of the State of New Mexico. She became New Mexico’s first female governor and the first Hispanic female governor in the history of the United States. Prior to being elected governor, Martinez was a prosecutor for 25 years along the nation’s southern border and served as Doña Ana County’s elected district attorney for over half that time. Martinez became her county’s top criminal prosecutor, where she specialized throughout her career in child abuse and sexual abuse cases.

A hard-charging education reformer and budget hawk, Martinez is an optimistic conservative leader who worked with Republicans and Democrats alike to put the state’s fiscal house in order, raise academic standards and graduation rates, and usher in a true economic turnaround in New Mexico. As governor, she prioritized keeping New Mexico’s communities safe, ensuring all students receive a high-quality education, and diversifying and growing the state’s economy.

When Governor Martinez took office in 2011, she inherited a nearly half-billion-dollar budget deficit, on a state budget that totaled just over $5.5 billion at the time. Through responsible spending and a commitment to expanding and diversifying the state’s economy, she turned the largest structural deficit in state history into a $2 billion surplus by the time she left office. She never raised taxes. In fact, she vetoed over $1 billion in proposed tax increases, and cut taxes and fees 61 times while in office.

Governor Martinez also made New Mexico’s economy more competitive for jobs and new investments. She established a robust closing fund and expanded job training incentives, streamlined regulations and cut red tape, lowered the business tax rate, and worked with governors in Mexico to build a bustling bi- national economic corridor along the border.

When she left office, New Mexico’s job growth had reached a 12-year high and the unemployment rate had fallen from 7.8 to 4.6 percent. New Mexico became a national leader in export growth. And, as a result of these tools, reforms, and investments, national and global companies like Netflix, Facebook, and SafeLite have moved major operations to New Mexico, while homegrown cutting-edge businesses like RS21, Skorpios, Risksense, Descartes Labs, and others have been able to expand and thrive.

The Governor also implemented bold education reforms to raise academic standards, improve student learning and school performance, and close persistent achievement gaps. She also raised the salaries of starting teachers, significantly increased funding for – and participation in – Pre-K programs and other early childhood education initiatives, expanded literacy programs and tutoring for at-risk students, and launched new teacher and principal mentoring programs that improved classroom instruction and student performance.

Ensuring that New Mexicans feel safe in their homes and communities was a top priority for Governor Martinez, too. Her administration cracked down on repeat drunk drivers and launched various initiatives that helped drive alcohol-related highway fatalities to record lows. She raised State Police officer salaries and fought to provide law enforcement officers and prosecutors with the tools they needed to get criminals off the streets.

As District Attorney, Martinez fought to pass “Katie’s Law,” which required a DNA sample to be taken from those arrested for certain crimes in New Mexico. As Governor, she signed the expansion of that law, requiring a DNA sample for all felony arrests. The law has matched felony arrestee DNA to more than 1,500 cold cases since 2007, saving countless lives and helping identify and prosecute murderers, rapists, and other serious offenders.

In 2014, Governor Martinez won re-election by the largest margin of any Republican gubernatorial candidate in modern history, earning substantial support from Democratic and Independent voters in rural and urban areas alike. She served alongside a Democratically-controlled Legislature throughout her time in office, with the exception of a two-year period of Republican control of one chamber.

She has been named to Time Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People in the World and served as a Chairman and long-time executive committee member of the Republican Governors Association (RGA). During her chairmanship, she broke RGA fundraising records and, at the conclusion of her term, Republicans held the greatest number of gubernatorial offices in U.S. history.

Governor Martinez comes from a hard-working, middle class family. Her father, a long-time boxer and descendant of Mexican revolutionary Toribio Ortega, started a security guard business with her mother, who did the paperwork for the business at their kitchen table. Martinez worked as a security guard in the family business while attending college. She was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley and has made Las Cruces, New Mexico her home since the 1980s. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at El Paso and later earned her law degree from the University of Oklahoma School of Law, where she was recently elected into the school’s Hall of Fame.

Registration is not required. Doors open at 5:30 PM, and seating is based on a first come-first serve basis