Nine Distinguished Alumni to receive accolades at NMSU Homecoming

October 15, 2009 by Bryant Million NMSU NewsCenter

The New Mexico State University Alumni Association will honor and recognize nine Distinguished Alumni and the recipient of the 2009 James F. Cole Memorial Award at a dinner during the Homecoming 2009 celebration.

The 2009 honorees are:

  • Jack Benjamin Pruett, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
  • Ann C. Gates, William D. Newell and Alexander M. Parsons, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Brenda Alvarez, College of Business
  • Eula Fern Thompson, College of Education
  • Tom H. Hill, College of Engineering
  • Judith Bauer Creegan, College of Health and Social Services
  • William “Bilo” Wallace, Office of International and Border Programs
  • Shari Jones, James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service

Pruett earned his degree in animal science from NMSU in 1962. He was named an outstanding graduate for his graduating class in his college. During his time as chief estimator and project manager of Wooten Construction Company from the 1980s to 1998, the firm completed construction projects in the Las Cruces area and several of NMSU’s campuses, including Knox Hall, Engineering Complex Buildings 1 and 3, the Business Complex, Hardman Hall and the Doña Ana Community College Library. He became an honored member of the Sam Steele Society in 2001.

Gates earned her Ph.D. in computer science from NMSU in 1994. She, in collaboration with other researchers, has received more than $23 million in funding from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Sandia National Laboratories, Army Research Laboratory, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation (NSF). In 2006, Gates led a successful effort to secure NSF funding to form the Computing Alliance for Hispanic-Serving Institutions (CAHSI), which is focused on the recruitment, retention and advancement of Hispanics in computing. NMSU is included in the core of CAHSI’s founding institutions.

Newell earned his degrees in criminal justice and Latin American studies from NMSU in 1988. In 1989, he became a special agent with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Over the course of his career, Newell has held several positions in which he was responsible for oversights of ATF’s international and domestic firearms and explosives trafficking jurisdiction. He has represented ATF and the U.S. at the United Nations and the Organization of American States as an expert on international firearms and explosives trafficking matters. He currently serves as the special agent in charge and director of the ATF’s Phoenix Field Division, which presides over Arizona and New Mexico.

Parsons earned his master of arts from NMSU in 1999. He is the author of the novel “Leaving Disneyland,” which won the 2001 Associated Writing Program’s Award for the Novel, the Writer’s League of Texas Violet Crown Award and was a finalist for the PEN West Award. His second novel, “In the Shadows of the Sun,” is set in his home state of New Mexico and deals with the Bataan Death March and the testing of the first atomic bomb on what is now the White Sands Missile Range. The novel was a 2005 Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writer selection and was nominated for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Parsons has received various recognitions for his writing, including a National Endowment for the Arts Literary Fellowship, and he teaches creative writing at the University of Houston’s nationally ranked master’s of fine arts and Ph.D. Creative Writing Program and the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers.

Alvarez earned her degree in business from NMSU in 1981. She and her husband founded EMI Technologies in 1985, a mechanical and electrical engineering, consulting and fabrication services company that has completed more than 300 custom built vehicles. Alvarez currently serves on the Wells Fargo Advisory Board, the Arrowhead Advisory Board and the Las Cruces Country Club Board. She has also served on the boards for the NMSU Alumni Association and the Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce.

Thompson earned her bachelor’s degree in business education in 1963 and her masters in educational management and development in 1983 from NMSU. Her teaching career has spanned for 33 years, which includes teaching at Mayfield High School, Mayfield Night High School, the International Business College and the Dona Ana Community College. She has received the Donald C. Rush Award for Excellence in Teaching from NMSU in 1985 and the National Teaching Excellence Award from the University of Texas in 1989. Thompson is still active in the NMSU College of Education as she currently serves on the college’s board of advocates and the Children’s Village Board. She has worked as a fund-raiser for Aggies for Kids at the Children’s Village, and she has worked to establish the J. Paul Taylor Endowment in Early Childhood Education and the Warren Woodson Endowment for the Aggie football program.

Hill earned his degree in mechanical engineering from NMSU in 1967. After working for the Humble Oil Company, now ExxonMobil, he left and founded T.H. Hill Associates, which works on difficult, drill-string mechanics problems and on drill-string failure prevention. The company develops, writes, publishes and enforces the DS-1 Standard. This standard, with Hill as its principal author, was first published in 1993 and has been translated into Spanish and Chinese. It has become the worldwide specification for manufacture, design and inspection of oil and gas drill-string components. Hill is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and has published about 50 books, technical articles and papers.

Creegan earned her associate degree in nursing in 1983, her bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1986 and her master’s of science in nursing in 1996 from NMSU. She is the director of nursing and health services for the Gadsden Independent School District. She is responsible for the oversight and management of student and employee health services for 17,000 individuals on 26 campuses and remote sites. She manages a SAMHASA Suicide Prevention grant, working with a group of middle and high school students on a suicide prevention program. Creegan was an instructor for NMSU’s Department of Nursing in 2001 and 2002, and she is currently earning her doctorate in curriculum and instruction at NMSU.

Wallace earned his degree in range and animal science from NMSU in 1968. After graduating, Wallace took on the responsibility of managing the Corralitos Ranch near Casas Grandes in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, which had been run by his family for two previous generations. He currently serves as president of the Union Ganadera Regional of Chihuahua, a cattle growers association. For the past 10 years, Wallace has served as the Mexican representative to an international tuberculosis committee that works closely with Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture and the USDA to eliminate tuberculosis in cattle.

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.

Criteria for the James F. Cole Memorial Award are based on non-monetary support and involvement with NMSU, civic and humanitarian service, and professional service.

For more information contact the NMSU Alumni Association at (575) 646-3616.

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