AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

NMSU has recognized more than 400 alumni as standouts in their community, service work, university, and career fields.

COVID safe practices will be in place, in alignment with CDC, that may include face masks and social distancing.

Distinguished Alumni Awards

Since 1956, the NMSU Alumni Association has presented accomplished alumni with the Association’s highest honor — the Distinguished Alumni Award. The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes living NMSU alumni who have achieved national or international distinction by their accomplishments and leadership. They have performed impactful, meritorious service that, in deeds and action, reflects and recognizes the importance of his or her education at NMSU, demonstrates pride in their alma mater and possesses integrity and stature.

alumni awards and recognitions
This celebration is held during the annual Homecoming festivities at the Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner on Friday evening in the Corbett Center Ballrooms. Registration coming soon.
Nominations for the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Awards are open now through May 16.
See Nomination Requirements
We were excited to honor the Class of 2020 Distinguished Alumni in a virtual ceremony on Thursday, March 4, 2021.
View the full ceremony here

After requesting nominations from all NMSU alumni each Spring, recipients are selected, one from each academic college, based on personal accomplishment, professional achievement and charitable service. Since the award's inception, NMSU has recognized more than 400 alumni as standouts in their community, university, and career fields. A full list is available below.

Dr. Jim Butler

College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

Class of ’74, ‘75

Kit Milam-Elliott

College of Arts & Sciences –
Fine Arts & Humanities

Class of ’62, ‘63

Sonya K. Chavez

College of Arts & Sciences –
Sciences & Social Sciences

Class of ‘88

Sammy Chioda

College of Business

Class of ‘76

Dr. Shelly Smith-Acuña

College of Education

Class of ’80, ‘84

James C. Owen

College of Engineering

Class of ‘95

Travis C. Leyva

College of Health & Social Services

Class of ‘04

James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service

Since 1966, the New Mexico State University Alumni Association has honored numerous alumni with the James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service. This award instills the tradition of excellence NMSU has upheld throughout the years, and each recipient (one per year) is selected based on support to NMSU, involvement with NMSU, civic and humanitarian service and professional success.

2021 James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service Honoree

richard leza

Richard L. Leza, ‘73
College of Engineering

About the James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service

Since 1966, the New Mexico State University Alumni Association has honored alumni with the James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service.

The award is given annually to someone who has demonstrated outstanding support to NMSU through civic, humanitarian or professional support for NMSU. The award instills the tradition of excellence NMSU has upheld throughout the years.

“It’s a shining star. It is a once-a-year award that’s given by the NMSU Foundation for extreme service to New Mexico State University,” James Libbin said, former Dean for the College of ACES.

Who was James F. Cole?

Bill Cantrell, '67, was especially proud to receive the James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service at because he studied under Cole.

"James Cole was a cotton farmer who taught Agricultural Economics 100. He also assisted President Corbett," Cantrell recalled. Cantrell came to NMSU at age 30 in 1964, and Cole was one of his professors his first semester. "I remember that he was so supportive of this person who was coming back to school and was as old as some of the professors. The first test of the semester was in his class, and I made the best grade. He stopped class to congratulate me on how well I'd done." Cole was always interested in what his students were doing and his door was always open, Cantrell said. As a student, Cantrell also was impressed that Cole was a "real-live producer teaching about agricultural economics. Today I appreciate that more than I did then." -- Lena Parsons

See Nomination Requirements
Megin Nichols

Megin Nichols, ‘04

College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

Young Alumni Service Award

Started in 2019, the Young Alumni Service Award recognizes living New Mexico State University alumni under the age of 40 who have made great strides in shaping their community’s future and have brought distinction to New Mexico State University.

2020 Young Alumni Service Award Honoree - Russell Hernandez

The Young Alumni Service Award recognizes living New Mexico State University alumni under the age of 40 who have made great strides in shaping their community’s future and have brought distinction to New Mexico State University.

See Nomination Requirements