Aug. 10, 2005 by Jeany Llorente NMSU News Center
New Mexico State University’s College of Business will induct Jerean Camuñez Hutchinson and Chris Knackstedt into the college’s Hall of Fame at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19, at the Hilton de Las Cruces. A no-host social will begin at 6 p.m.
“Members and friends of the College of Business look forward to honoring two of the best and brightest to graduate from the college, Chris and Jerean,” said Garrey Carruthers, dean of the business college. “Chris has been on a professional fast track in both healthcare and healthcare insurance and Jerean has returned to Las Cruces to own and manage, with her husband Tom, one of this area’s most famous and treasured restaurants – La Posta in Mesilla. The College of Business is a premier college because of premier graduates like Chris and Jerean.”
The business college began the Hall of Fame to honor outstanding alumni who have distinguished themselves in their careers and to develop a stronger relationship between the college and the business community.
Hutchinson, a native of Las Cruces, and her husband Tom bought the famed La Posta de Mesilla in 1996. A 1980 NMSU graduate, she previously worked as a computer programmer, systems analyst, marketing manager and project leader. In addition, she was the vice president and regional manager for a marketing firm in Dallas from 1987 to 1995.
Hutchinson, who received a master’s degree from George Washington University, has been involved with the Old Mesilla Association, the NMSU Business Advisory Council, the New Mexico Restaurant Association, the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce, Jardin de Los Niños and the Las Cruces Catholic School Board.
A graduate of the 2001 class of Leadership New Mexico, Hutchinson received the 2005 YWCA Reach Award for Business Women Who Make a Difference. In 2001, under the Hutchinsons’ ownership, La Posta was recognized as the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year and by the Doña Ana Historical Society for the successful repair and rehabilitation of a historical commercial property. Hutchinson also was a finalist for the New Mexico Restaurant Association’s “Restaurateur of the Year” award in 2004.
“I am incredibly humbled by the honor of being inducted into the NMSU Business Hall of Fame,” Hutchinson said. “There is no doubt that the quality education I received from NMSU and the College of Business laid a strong foundation for my accomplishments to date. It is refreshing for me to have worked in various cities throughout the country in a variety of positions and to finally come full circle with my family and my career, and return to my hometown supporting the community where I was born, raised and educated – and most importantly – that I love.”
Knackstedt, of Denver, Colo., is the senior vice president of Healthcare Management for the Healthcare Division of Great-West Life and Annuity, a national employee benefits provider that serves more than two million members nationally. Before joining Great-West, the 1991 NMSU honors graduate served as the chief financial officer of Centura Health/St. Anthony Health System, chief financial officer for the Sierra Providence Health Network and an auditor with KPMG Peat Marwick.
Knackstedt, the 2001 NMSU College of Business Distinguished Alumnus, has served on numerous boards including the NMSU Alumni Advisory Council, the NMSU Business Advisory Board, the Board of Directors of the Rocky Mountain Primary Care Group, the El Paso Chamber of Commerce and the Seniors Resource Center.
A certified public accountant, Knackstedt earned an MBA from the University of Texas at El Paso. His wife Lucinda Knackstedt has a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees from NMSU and sits on the President’s Associates board. Together they have supported the university through the endowment of scholarships in the College of Business and the Department of Music.
“The education I received at NMSU was first class,” Knackstedt said. “A strong accounting and finance background has allowed me to move into other areas of management within large organizations and I received this grounding while at NMSU. I believe my education at NMSU was one of the best values I could have received – high quality at a reasonable cost.”