New Mexico Tech Awarding 250 Degrees Saturday

SOCORRO, N.M. May 11, 2010 – The Class of 2010 at New Mexico Tech will officially receive their diplomas during the commencement ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 15.

The community is invited to attend graduation, which has been moved to the lawn north of Macey Center. A reception for graduates and their friends and families will be on the south lawn of Macey Center immediately following the ceremonies.

  Commencement at New Mexico Tech always features plenty of hard hats.

Those students finishing their degrees in May 2010 include 251 students. Including August 2009 and December 2009, a total of 363 graduates have completed their degrees in the past year and are eligible to walk in commencement. Of those degrees, Tech is awarding 200 bachelor’s, 140 master’s and 23 doctoral degrees. Registrar Sara Grijalva said she expects about 250 students to participate in commencement.

The top student award winners will not be determined until Friday, May 14. The top undergraduate awards are the Cramer Awards, given to the top male and top female students academically, the Brown Award, given to the top student in academics, research and extracurriculars.

The top graduate student awards are the Langmuir Award, given to the student who has published the most significant research paper, and the Founder’s Award, given to the student who has excelled academically and contributed to the Tech community.

The top faculty awards have already been determined. Dr. Rick Aster is the 2010 winner of the Distinguished Researcher Award. Aster is the chair of the Earth and Environmental Science Department and the principal investigator for the IRIS PASSCAL Instrument Center. He has distinguished himself in geophysics and Earth science research, outreach and public service efforts.

The Distinguished Teaching Award recipient is Dr. Paul Arendt of the Physics Department. Arendt has earned the accolades of students from various departments for his effective and engaging teaching style.

The Alumni Association will also present awards at commencement. President Brett Wendt will present Distinguished Service awards to two Tech graduates. McKay Pugmire is a 1981 graduate of New Mexico Tech, in mining engineering. Currently a managing engineer with Freeport McMoran Copper & Gold Company, Pugmire facilitated a $1 million donation from the company to the university in 2009.

Also receiving a Distinguished Service Award is Michael Fitzgerald, a supporter of New Mexico Tech who passed away in August 11 2009. Fitzgerald was a geological engineer who created a scholarship at New Mexico Tech, which has supported five students in recent years.

The Distinguished Achievement Award from the Alumni Association goes to Robert B. Blakestad, a 1970 graduate of Tech. He is the Senior Vice President for Exploration and Chief Geologist of the Golden Minerals Company in Golden, Colorado.  ]

He has had a long and distinguished career in the mining industry.  Most recently, as president and CEO of International Taurus Resources Inc., he built the company's portfolio of exploration and development properties to include more than 2.5 million ounces in gold resources and was successful in raising more than $9 million in new capital.

The Student Association will present three awards at commencement – a faculty award, staff award and a student. President Robbie Blakney will recognize mathematics professor Dr. Gilbert Kerr, staff members Melissa Begay and Annine Gabaldon of the Tech gym and student Jared Duffy.

The Graduation Student Association will present its Appreciation Award to Graduate Dean Dr. David Johnson, who is retiring this summer. Dr. Johnson is a professor in the Earth and Environmental Science Department and has served as graduate dean for many years.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech