Thomas Lafayette Popejoy was a native of Raton, N.M., a UNM alumnus and the only Lobo athletic letterwinner to serve as president of the University of New Mexico.
During his undergraduate days, Popejoy was a four-year letterman in football where he excelled at halfback and placekicker. He is renown for his 1924 field goal that beat arc-rival Arizona for the first time by a 3-0 score.
As a UNM student, Popejoy was a member of the Debate Team, President of Sigma Chi fraternity and the Intramural Council. He graduated from UNM in 1925 with a degree in Economics, and while pursuing a post-graduate education at UNM, served as graduate manager of athletics, Director of Student Employment, Alumni Secretary and Student Activities advisor. Popejoy later received an honorary Doctor of Law degree from the University of Arizona in 1968.
In preparation for his role as UNM Chief Executive Officer, Popejoy was an instructor in Economics in 1937; served as Comptroller, Registrar and Executive Assistant to University President James F. Zimmerman from 1937-48. On June 4, 1949, Popejoy was inaugurated as UNM's ninth president.
President Popejoy was a dynamic leader in the establishment of the UNM Medical Complex; in the creation of UNM's nationally prominent Center for Latin American Studies, and, along with Pete McDavid, John Dolzadelli and Bob King was the ideological architect of the Lobos' South Athletic Complex, which included The Pit in 1966. With the formation of the Western Athletic Conference in 1962, Popejoy was elected President of the WAC's University President's Council.
On the occasion of his retirement in 1968, Popejoy was awarded the U.S. Navy's Meritorious Public Service citation; the coveted Zimmerman Award from the UNM Alumni Association; a gubernatorial proclamation in his honor; and, on May 5, 1968, UNM's Performing Arts Concert Hall was permanently commemorated in his name.
Tom Popejoy died in October of 1975.