NMSU National Parks series’ second talk looks at infrastructure

The 10-year, multi-million-dollar capital campaign to repair the infrastructure of America’s national parks was called Mission 66. Jeff Pappas, New Mexico’s State Historic Preservation Officer, will talk about the results of the single largest investment in U.S. national parks when the “NMSU Celebrates the National Parks” lecture series continues.

Two women and man in a suit from head to toe in front of building.
Jeff Pappas, New Mexico’s State Historic Preservation Officer (right), posed with NMSU professor emerita Beth O’Leary (left) and NMSU graduate Stacia Fine after they received a 2013 Heritage Preservation Award. Pappas will give the second talk in the series “NMSU Celebrates the National Parks” on Sept. 14. (Photo courtesy New Mexico History Preservation Division)

New Mexico State University’s College of Arts and Sciences is hosting classes and public lectures on campus, along with sponsoring a blog series to honor and raise awareness about America’s national parks. The series began Sept. 1 and will continue throughout the fall semester.

Pappas’ talk titled “NPS and the Mission 66 Era” will run from 6-7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 14 at Gerald Thomas Hall in room 194. Pappas worked for the National Park Service for 20 years before Gov. Susana Martinez appointed him New Mexico’s State Historic Preservation Officer in 2012.

“After a decade of economic depression, followed by a costly world war, the parks were in dire need of repair,” Pappas said. “Buildings and structures, campgrounds and bathrooms, entrance stations and ranger facilities had to be renovated or replaced. Anticipating a significant increase in visitation, park administrators were faced with a daunting challenge.”

Pappas, who earned a Ph.D. from Arizona State University, where he studied American Indian, environmental and public history, currently teaches part time in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of New Mexico.

“Mission 66 fundamentally changed the way the parks function and how they’re experienced by the public,” he said. “This presentation will highlight the key elements of Mission 66 and talk specifically about mid-century design trends in architecture and how the preservation community today is managing national park resources.”

As part of the College of Arts and Sciences program, history professor Jon Hunner has been blogging as he travels across the country visiting various national parks. Each week while on sabbatical this fall, Hunner is writing short histories of the parks he visits. Read more about his travels at drivenbyhistory.blogspot.com. When he returns, Hunner plans to compile his blog posts into a book.

Find more information about upcoming speakers for “NMSU Celebrates the National Parks” at
https://history.nmsu.edu/events/nps/. For questions, contact NMSU’s director of the Public History Program, Peter Kopp, at pkopp@nmsu.edu.


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