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Two Alumni Awarded; Honorary Doctorate Given

SOCORRO, N.M. May 16, 2013 – Every year, the New Mexico Tech Alumni Association presents awards to Tech graduates who are exceptional in their field and have promoted the university. Tech also awarded an honorary doctorate during Saturday’s commencement ceremony.

Harvey Westbrook, president of the Alumni Association, announced the Distinguished Service Awards winner as Ken Fagan. He presented the Distinguished Achievement Award to Dr. Raul Deju. University President Dr. Daniel H. Lopez announced the honorary doctorate recipient, Gen. Lester Lyles (U.S.Air Force, Ret.).

Ken Fagan

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Michael Olguin Jr. of the Alumni Office accepts Ken Fagan's award from Alumni Association president Harvey Westbrook.


Fagan earned his bachelor’s in Petroleum Engineering at New Mexico Tech in 1961. A Korean War veteran, Ken put himself through Tech by working summers in the oilfields near Hobbs, N.M., as a roustabout and a relief pumper. Upon graduating, he started his career working for Kerr-McGee in drilling and production on off-shore rigs.

Fagan has not only had a long and illustrious career in the petroleum industry; he has also been a strong supporter of New Mexico Tech since leaving Socorro. He has actively and generously contributed to the Petroleum Engineering Department every year. He comes back to Socorro every year for 49ers in the fall and senior design presentations in the spring, as well as the department awards banquet. He also supports two scholarships for petroleum students.

Fagan worked for various companies as a production and district manager until 1969, when he was named the Vice President of Drilling and Production for Charter Co. In that position, he was in charge of operations in South America. The company later promoted him to Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations. In 1978, he joined Convest Energy in Houston as Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.

In 1987, he moved to Miami to help launch Forcenergy Corp. In 1995, he returned to Houston, joining W&T Offshore as Vice President of Acquisitions and leading a team that acquired several billion dollars of properties. Mr. Fagan retired from W&T two years ago.

Dr. Raul Deju

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Deju is truly one of New Mexico Tech’s most amazing alumni and a true American success story. As a teen-ager, Raul left Cuba without his parents and somehow made his way to Socorro and New Mexico Tech.

As a Tech student, he earned his bachelor’s in mathematics in 1966 and his Ph.D. in geology in 1969. He then began a career that started with Gulf Oil Co., principally involved with its Uranium Mining.

Over the years, Dr. Deju’s titles have included Chief Operating Officer, Regional President, Chief Executive Officer and President.

He has also been an entrepreneur, an angel investor and an author. He has started five different companies that are now listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Recently, Dr. Deju was recognized as one of the 25 Most Influential Latinos in the San Francisco Bay Area and has received Congressional, State and City of San Francisco recognitions.

He currently serves as a Professor of Management and the Director of the Institute of Entrepreneurial Leadership at John F. Kennedy University in San Francisco and manages his own firm, Deju Management Advisors Inc. He is also teaching a week-long seminar in entrepreneurship this summer at Tech and recently had his latest book published.

Gen. Lester Lyles


Gen. Lester Lyles


As the base Commander of Hill Air Force Base (HAFB) in Ogden, UT, Gen. Lyles had major responsibility for the entire Air Force Logistics Command, and the Global Rebuild/Repair Programs for the C-130, F-16 and B-3 stealth bomber aircraft. H was overseeing the Air Force Logistical Center for tactical missile systems worldwide.

In his letter of recommendation, Dr. Peter Gerity said that, “During this period of time, he was an avid supporter of University based research programs focused on air force system technology improvement and enhancements.”

General Lyles served as Director of Ballistic Missile Defense Organization from 1996-1999. He was the second Director to serve in that capacity before once again being promoted to Vice Chief of Staff of Air Force Headquarters and the very important main research operation at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio until his retirement in 2003.

During his entire career, General Lyles led in science and engineering-based decision making which impacted every one of the programs which he oversaw. This was a refreshing and successful strategy, unlike the usual military commanders who consistently use politics to drive their decisions rather than data/information.

He consistently sought external advice and expertise from University research personnel as well as expertise from well-recognized private sector sources in every critical decision. Further, he not only sought this input, but listened to it very carefully and implemented change in his programs based on that advice.

Gerity in his nomination letter, wrote that “General Lyles stands out as a unique individual who consistently made decisions based upon scientific data and engineering information rather than what was simply politically expedient. Les Lyles exhibits for leadership while maintaining the highest ethical standards even when the surrounding political forces were demanding the contrary view.”

He continues to serve the President as one of the most experienced and knowledgeable members of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board since 2009.

Gen. Liles was unable to attend graduation. Gerity, Vice President of Academic Affairs, accepted the award on his behalf.

-- NMT --

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