On June 20, 1935, the El Paso Herald Post announced the appointment of Dr. D.M. Wiggins as the Texas State School of Mines and Metallurgy’s (now UTEP) new president. Dossie Marion Wiggins earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. He then went on to earn a Master’s and a Doctorate degree from Yale, finishing in 1930. Before coming to the Texas State School of Mines and Metallurgy, Wiggins worked at various Texas school systems. Wiggins served as Dean of students at Hardin-Simmons University in 1924 until he left that position for a new one at our institution here in El Paso. On September 18, The Prospector reported Dr. Wiggins’ arrival in El Paso. However, it was not until October 8 that same year that the school’s new president was to be inaugurated. The inauguration ceremony was held in Holliday hall near to Kidd Field. Some two thousand invitations were sent for the inauguration proceedings, including over eighty sent to staff of other colleges and universities.
During his thirteen years as president, the college saw “undreamed-of increases” in student registration totals, as well as a doubling of construction projects throughout the campus. As the country climbed out of the Great Depression, President Wiggins stressed the importance of Liberal Arts programs as well as pushed for a prosperous football team, which was important to the El Paso community. A page in the 1939 Flowsheet stated: “if progress and achievement in an institution of learning can be attributed to any one driving force, that impetus is President Wiggins…Dr. Wiggins is the logical president for the College of Mines during these formative days.” Wiggins was also known for his persuasive speaking abilities, with some calling him a “good politician” who had the ability to talk the Texas Legislature out of money. The Texas College of Mines and Metallurgy was not D.M. Wiggins’ final academic position. After the Texas College of Mines he accepted the presidency at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. He served there from 1948-1952. A street is named after former-President Wiggins here on the University of Texas at El Paso campus with the UTEP Library located on it.
Bryan Winter is an assistant in the C.L. Sonnichsen Special Collections Department of the UTEP Library. He earned a BS in Geography from New Mexico State University, and is currently in his final year as an MA student in History at UTEP.