The NMSU Alumni Association’s James Cole Award is presented annually during Homecoming week. Criteria: Distinguished Alumni nominees must have attended NMSU. Persons employed by NMSU or currently serving as a member of the NMSU Board of Regents, or active in positions relating to university operations, such as state legislators or government officials, are not eligible. The James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service is awarded to one outstanding alumnus, based on his/her support and involvement with NMSU, and civic, humanitarian, and professional service. James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service nominees must be graduates of NMSU, or active members of the Alumni Association, before the date of selection. Alumni who are members of the NMSU faculty or staff are also eligible.
Dino R. Camuñez (’80)
If one word had to be used to adequately describe Dino R. Camuñez, that word would be service. A 1980 NMSU graduate with a degree in business administration, Dino continued on to receive a Master’s Degree in banking from the University of Washington. While education and a successful career were important to Dino, service was at the forefront of everything he did, and still is.
Dino and his wife Heidi were founding principal members of First Western Trust Bank, with Dino serving as the founding president and chief executive officer when the bank received its formal charter in November 2008. Dino says one of the proudest moments of his career was, “the day that I was called by the regional director of the FDIC Division of Banking, and told I had been approved to start our own de novo bank. It was a dream to do it and finally be able to complete it.”
Dino credits NMSU as the beginning of his journey that led to a career of successes. Dino has remained committed to supporting NMSU, serving the NMSU Foundation Board of Directors with distinction for 10 years. He and Heidi have also generously supported an endowed scholarship in the College of Business, and are always available to support the NMSU Alumni Association. Earlier this year, the couple sponsored the Aggie Tailgate at the Grand Canyon University vs. NMSU men’s basketball game so they could bring together Aggies and celebrate NMSU. Both Dino and Heidi are members of the 1888 Legacy Society and are proud Aggies for life. It was through the 1888 Legacy Society that Dino and his family established the Dino and Heidi Camuñez Faculty Lounge in the College of Business.
Because service is so important to Dino, he and Heidi founded Camp HONOR (Hemophiliacs Overcoming New Obstacles Resourcefully) in Prescott Valley, Arizona. The camp serves 100 young people annually afflicted with hemophilia. The couple’s legacy is also embedded in the completion of a $200 million capital campaign that was funded in order to complete a 300-bed tower on the Phoenix Children’s Hospital campus. Dino has served as chairman for Chicanos por La Causa, a development corporation dedicated to increasing health advocacy and economic opportunity in underserved communities and was responsible for creating 500 new homes for families from economically and socially disadvantaged neighborhood in Phoenix.
Don Beasley (‘72)
Since graduating in accounting in 1972, Mr. Don Beasley has built a legacy of assisting Aggie students in finding, following, and funding their career paths. Mr. Beasley’s firm is a major employer of NMSU accounting student interns and graduates. Each year their firm hires 10-15 interns. The internship experience contributes to their academic credit and benefits the students financially. The firm has supported hundreds of NMSU students through internships, careers, and scholarships, and he always finds time to mentor the students while continuing to be active in the accounting profession. By staying active Mr. Beasley is also able to pass his accounting knowledge to those interning at the firm. His activity in volunteer roles with NMSU sets an example for others to follow in giving back to their alma mater. His roles have included past president, NMSU Foundation; member of NMSU Accounting Advisory Council; NMSU Alumni Association president; treasurer, Aggie Sports Association; and past president, Mil Gracias Society, NMSU. Don is always at the forefront of advancing NMSU students in any way possible. He serves as an advocate for all things “Aggie” and takes his mentorship role very seriously. His service to NMSU has created natural partnerships with the business community that are insurmountable to the growth of NMSU, the accounting department and profession, and the College of Business. Most importantly, Don actively encourages the next generation of alumni and community members to serve and partner with NMSU.
Mike Rogers (’73)
Mike Rogers earned a BBA in 1973 at NMSU, is a publishing and advertising executive and has 25 years of business experience in a wide range of technology companies, including senior management positions. He is currently the senior vice president of sales for Goodmail Systems, the creator of CertifiedEmail™, the industry’s standard class of trusted email. CertifiedEmail has been adopted by seven of the nation’s top ten email mailbox providers and is in use by 500 commercial, government, and non-profit senders. Rogers joined Goodmail Systems in July 2009.
Jerean Camunez Hutchinson (’80)
Hutchinson received her bachelor’s in business administration from NMSU in 1980. She acquired the famed La Posta de Mesilla in 1996. La Posta was recognized in 2001 as the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year.
She also was finalist for the 2004 New Mexico Restaurateur of the Year. She received the YWCA 2005 Reach Award for Women Who Make a Difference. She currently serves as president of the Las Cruces Catholic School Board and on the College of Business Advisory Board.
Shari Jones (’80, ’81)
Shari Jones earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1980 and her master’s degree in business administration in 1981 from NMSU. In 2001, she joined the executive council of NMSU’s Alumni Association, which she served for four years including one year as president. She has also served in the association’s international board of directors. Jones is a member of the Aggie Athletics Fund Board and the President’s Associates Board. She received the NMSU Foundation’s Spirit of Service Award in October 2007 in recognition of her role as the co-chair of the Hospitality Committee for the 2007 WAC Basketball Tournament held in Las Cruces, a role she also undertook for the 2008 event.
Jones was a recipient of the 2009 NMSU College of Business Hall of Fame Award.
- 2007: E. Larry Lujan. Lujan serves as President and CEO of Manual Lujan Insurance, Inc., and Lujan Enterprises, Inc. He graduated from NMSU in 1977 with a Bachelor of Business Administration–Management.
- 2004: Gary Cataldo
- 2003: Tomas Chavez
- 2000: John “Jack” Oestreicher
- 1976: George Raymond Smith, Jr.
- 1995: Laura Mathers Conniff
- 1984: Larry Ramirez