College of Education and Professional Studies

Rocky Mountain Educational Research Association (RMERA)

In the late Fall of 1968 at a downtown hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico, over a hundred people with an interest in educational research assembled to disseminate research findings and share exemplary program experiences. Organizers of the assembly included Dr. Jim Cooper of the University of New Mexico, Dr. Don Croft of New Mexico State University, and Dr. Darrell Sabers of the University of Arizona. Participants in the meeting included public school researchers, college professors, and, most important, graduate students. A major emphasis of the assembly was to offer a professional outlet for graduate students to gain experience in presenting research projects in a low-key, non-threatening setting –unlike the environments in national and regional research organizations of the 1960’s. Participants, observers and organizers, viewed the meeting as an unqualified success and plans were made to continue the event the following year. And so, the beginning of what became the foundation of RMERA was shaped and a core group of dedicated organizers from the three major founding universities sustained the annual conference.

Initially, RMERA included participants from the entire Rocky Mountains region from New Mexico to Wyoming. However, because the annual conference was rotating between Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and Tucson, travel difficulties and “political” turf issues created a split and another organization called the “Northern Rocky Mountain Educational Research Association” was formed. The original RMERA continued to be hosted by universities and public school districts throughout New Mexico and Arizona. A favorite among participants was a Monastery located in a remote orchard near Las Cruces, New Mexico –no television, no phones, no outside interferences; just good food and informed discussion and presentations.

Over the years the annual meetings have shifted from the New Mexico and Arizona root locations, such as Phoenix, Tucson, Albuquerque and Las Cruces, to include host sites in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Edmonds, Oklahoma; El Paso, Texas; Dallas, Texas, Stillwater, Oklahoma; Granbury, Texas, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma; and believe it or not Pensacola, Florida. The association is unique in that the mission is still quite consistent with the initial purpose – to provide a non-threatening venue for discussions of professional research and development – however, the structure of the association has been unconventional in that no permanent officers or written documents of governance have emerged to guide the organization. Each year, a volunteer “host” takes the responsibility of conducting the annual conference within the local scene, which assures that each meeting offers a unique set of experiences.