Viles Foundation, Inc.

A 501(c)3 Non Profit Scholarship Foundation founded in 1959

50th Anniversary

  Matie Viles
Viles Foundation News

New and Renewal applicants: The deadline for applications for the 2024-2025 school year is April 1, 2024. Applications must be postmarked by that date. ~Board of Directors

The Board of Directors has announced that 45 scholarships were awarded in May, 2023. These scholarships totaled $95,600.00.
~Viles Foundation, Inc.

New Mexico Highlands University selected Matie Viles and Ken and Sue Crimmins to co-name the new Student Residence hall on their campus. It is known as the "Matie Viles and Ken and Sue Crimmin Student Residence Hall". ~Viles Foundation, Inc.



On March 29, 1959, the Viles Foundation, Inc. was incorporated as a foundation to grant scholarships to orphan or half orphan children in San Miguel and Mora Counties, New Mexico. In 1984, the foundation celebrated it’s twenty-fifth anniversary with a small reception and Champaign!

As the fiftieth anniversary approached, the Board of Directors began to discuss how this momentous occasion should be celebrated. It was quickly agreed that a luncheon would be held at New Mexico Highlands University on their homecoming weekend in September, 2008. For this occasion, the board wanted to find as many previous recipients as possible to join in the celebration. A data base was created by board member Merideth Hmura to help identify the number of students, the amount of grants and the schools that were attended. With the help of the Las Vegas press, stories were written and invitations were sent. The response was wonderful! Former students came from all over the United States!

The Board of Directors was taken aback by the response. As the former recipients responded, the board began to realize how much the scholarship meant to students. At one point, Eleanor Wald’s daughter Merideth Hmura, asked her mother, “Mom, after fifty years on the board, why didn’t you know that your former students had accomplished so much?” Eleanor’s response was very simple. “As a board, we were so concerned about the current students each year that we didn’t take the time to see what those before them had achieved. I am proud and the board has every reason to be proud also!”


(Click here to view photos.)

The luncheon was held in the Kennedy Hall on the campus of New Mexico Highlands University. NMHU and the Bank of America donated funds. Alumni Director Jim Mandarino coordinated the event. Ronald Romero, NMHU Food Service manager and his staff, catered an excellent buffet style meal. About 130 guests were served.

The flowers on the tables were donated by NMHU. The Alumni Association gave each member of the Board of Directors of the Viles Foundation a glass engraved paper weight to thank the board for the work that it has done for the students at NMHU. Each guest received a small rubber Champaign bottle commemorating the luncheon.

(Photo: Dr. Clarence Sanchez presents Eleanor Wald with her gift from NMHU AA.)


A slide presentation was projected during the luncheon. Matie Viles gave Eleanor Wald many photographs that were taken at the Viles’ guest ranch between 1915 and 1945. Mountain View Ranch was at Cowles, New Mexico. These photos are an excellent means to tell the story of Matie’s life.


(Click here to view photos.)

Dr. James Fries   

The President of New Mexico Highlands University, Dr. James Fries, spoke at the luncheon. He stressed the importance of education. He complimented the foresight of Matie Viles and the work that the Viles Foundation, Inc. has done to encourage young people from San Miguel and Mora Counties to attend college. As information from the data base shows, more than half of the two million dollars granted has been used by students to attend New Mexico Highlands University.

Former recipients were given the opportunity to speak about their educational experience. Each and every one of the six speakers expressed a gratitude that was heartfelt. Their successes in life depended directly on the education they received because of the Viles Foundation, Inc. The Las Vegas Optic newsman Don Pace wrote about three of the speakers. Barbara Perea-Casey, former West Las Vegas Superintendent, said, “Had it not been for the Viles Foundation scholarship, I would not be the same person standing before you today.” Les Montoya, San Miguel County Manager, said that he was one of 15 children. He said, “Given the opportunity from the Viles Foundation, I was able to earn my degree – not only I, but six of my brothers and sisters were also able to benefit from the Viles Scholarship.”

Juan Jose Pena, director of the Hispano Roundtable, a University of New Mexico professor and Court Interpreter, told an amazing story about discrimination that he experienced at the hands of educators and others. “The Viles Foundation, indirectly, was responsible for my becoming a radical, and I think we did a lot of good things. We put in the first two Hispano governors of New Mexico and the first Hispano president in the history of Highlands, in the history of New Mexico and in the history of the United States.”


(Click here to view photos.)

The former scholarship recipients were asked to fill out a simple questionnaire about themselves. The list of professions that were represented that day tells an amazing story. Including those who attended the luncheon and people who were not able to attend, creates an even more interesting story: attorneys, a mayor of Las Vegas, the New Mexico State Auditor, professors at several colleges and universities, a county manager, private business owners, educators at all levels, the founder of the first magnet school in Albuquerque, a newspaper publisher, many members of the medical field, data specialists – and the list goes on. It was gratifying to see so many people succeed.

Bas’ Relief

(Click here to view photos.)

The decision was made by the Board of Directors to commemorate Matie Viles in a lasting manner. They chose Duke Sundt, a local sculptor to design a memorial. He created a bas’ relief bronze image of Matie on horseback. It is used as a logo by the Viles Foundation, Inc.

Santa Fe Bronze cast the relief of Mattie Viles and Ramos Signage in Oklahoma City cast the plaque with text. Both bronzes are mounted on walnut by Robin Carlson. NM Highlands granted the Board of Directors permission to hang the memorial to Matie on the third floor of the Donnelly Library. It is in a sunny study alcove. The board members met there and had an informal dedication to Matie.

Board of Directors with Bas Relief

The plaque beneath the sculpture states:

(March 3, 1888 - January 14, 1961)

Founder of

The Viles Foundation, Inc.

Matie was born in Golondrinas, NM. Orphaned as a child, she was adopted by the Robinson family and later married George A. “Skipper” Viles of Cowles, NM.

It was Matie’s desire to educate orphaned children from San Miguel and Mora Counties. Established in 1958, the Viles Foundation, Inc., celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. To date (1958 – 2008), scholarships have been awarded to 815 students totaling more than two million dollars.

NMHU Ivan Hilton Award

Each year, the Alumni Association at New Mexico Highlands University awards an organization with the Ivan Hilton Award. This award is given to an individual or group whose members have no real affiliation with the university, and who have demonstrated an extraordinary record of service or donations benefiting NM Highlands University and its students. In 2008, Matie R. Viles and the Viles Foundation, Inc. were given this award. The Alumni Association had a banquet on Saturday evening after the Viles Foundtion, Inc’s luncheon. The Board of Directors and guests were honored to attend.

   Board at NMHU Ivan Hilton Award Ceremonies
A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Photographer Jesse Lopez took many photos of the guests and the event. Thanks to Jesse, the photos and their captions document the day. Click here to view photos.


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