The university was first established as New Mexico Normal School in 1893, with the prominent archaeologist Edgar Lee Hewett serving as its first president. The institution became New Mexico Normal University in 1902, and then New Mexico Highlands University in 1941, as it expanded its role beyond teacher education. Today, NMHU offers graduate and undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, education, and social work.
Located in Las Vegas, a city with a population of about 16,000, Highlands’ main campus is close to recreational and wilderness areas, and within an hour’s drive of Santa Fe and 2 hours from Albuquerque.
The majority of the school’s approximately 3,765 students are from New Mexico and are Latino. Highlands’ programs focus on its multi-ethnic student body, especially the Latino and American Indian cultures distinctive of New Mexico.