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NMSU's Distinguished Alumni Awards recognize brilliance, determination and compassion


Every fall, the New Mexico State University Alumni Association presents the university’s most accomplished alumni with its highest honors — the James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service, the Distinguished Alumni Awards, and the Young Alumni Service Award. Eight new recipients were announced today as the latest honorees, with careers ranging from healthcare to high tech to Hollywood.

Each recipient will be honored at the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Awards Celebration on October 21st and recognized at the homecoming football game on October 22nd at Aggie Memorial Stadium.

“This year’s Distinguished Alumni stand for the best of the best, contributing greatly to their career fields, giving back to society and representing NMSU boldly and brilliantly along the way,” said Derek Dictson, President, NMSU Foundation.

The NMSU Alumni Association has presented the Distinguished Alumni awards since 1956, adding the James F. Cole Memorial Award in 1966 and the Young Alumni Service Award in 2019. Honorees are selected by the Alumni Association Awards Committee based on personal accomplishment, professional achievement and charitable service.

The James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service recipient is Charles L. (Charley) Johnson ’61. The quintessential NMSU Aggie, Johnson was the greatest quarterback in NMSU football history before pursuing careers in both pro football (Houston Oilers, St. Louis Cardinals, Denver Broncos) and the oil business. He earned his master’s and doctoral degrees while playing in the NFL, and after serving in the Army for two years.

Johnson returned to his alma mater in 2000 to be head of the Chemical Engineering department. He also served as acting head football coach of the Aggies in 2009. A past winner of the Distinguished Alumni Award, Johnson’s support for NMSU includes being a mentor and coach, plus decades of charitable giving. He helped establish the Warren B. Woodson Endowed Fund in Athletics in 2003.

Distinguished Alumni honorees from each academic college are selected based on professional achievement and service throughout the university. This year’s winners span the nation, from California to Massachusetts, with vastly different career paths. They all share a deep track record of leadership, community involvement and generosity toward NMSU. Winners include:

  • College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences: Michael Galyean ‘73

Galyean is the Paul Whitfield Distinguished Professor in the Department of Veterinary Sciences at Texas Tech University. He is one of the top beef cattle nutritionists in the world. As a university professor he has taught graduate courses in animal nutrition and statistics, conducted research in beef cattle nutrition and management, served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Animal Science, and served as president of the American Society of Animal Science and the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists.

The College of Arts and Sciences celebrates two award recipients as the historically largest college on campus: one from Fine Arts and Humanities, and one from the fields of Sciences and Social Sciences. 

  • College of Arts and Sciences – Fine Arts and Humanities: Don T. Foster ’81
    Don T. Foster is a television writer/producer and creative consultant in Hollywood. He worked on some of the world's most popular sitcoms for 25 years, including "Roseanne," "Dharma and Greg," "Two and a Half Men," "The Big Bang Theory" and "Mike & Molly." For his work in television, Foster has received Golden Globe awards, Emmy nominations, People's Choice awards and a Peabody. When not in California, he generously gives his time here in southern New Mexico, working with groups of students to tell stories of this region.

  • College of Arts and Sciences – Sciences and Social Sciences: Kellie Ann Jurado ’11
    Jurado’s groundbreaking work on Zika virus pathogenesis, established her as a leader in the field of infectious diseases. Her commitment to the inclusion of underrepresented groups in science displays the dedication she has towards fostering a more equitable environment for all. She is a leader in the field of virology. Jurado currently holds the title of Presidential Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and serves as the primary mentor of multiple postdoctoral and clinical fellows, graduate trainees, research technicians and undergraduate research scholars. 

  • College of Business: Anthony Boor ‘89
    Anthony (Tony) Boor is chief financial officer and executive vice president of Blackbaud, a cloud software company powering the social good community—nonprofits, foundations, corporations, education institutions, healthcare organizations, religious organizations, and individual change agents. Boor is a frequent volunteer in his community, having served on the board of directors of the Lord’s Pantry at Anna’s House, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, as well as the Indiana State Museum. He also chaired the Charleston American Heart Association Heart Ball and Catholic Charities of South Carolina. He is now a member of the Greater Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce and a governance board member for Neighbors Together.

  • College of Engineering: Wencil McClenahan ‘91
    Wencil McClenahan had a 25-year career with Boeing Company, where he was twice recognized as a World Class Engineer and selected as Boeing Associate Technical Fellow. There, he managed and led many multi-functional aircraft and aerospace technical teams and was an internal company consultant. He has been the champion for the NMSU Mechanical and Aerospace Academy for several years, following a seven-year stint as an Adjunct Associate Professor of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at NMSU.

  • College of Health, Education and Social Transformation: David Gallegos ‘97
    An athletic trainer in the Las Cruces community, David Gallegos previously worked in minor league baseball with the Milwaukee Brewers then moved to the NFL to join the Arizona Cardinals. He has worked to improve the experience of other athletic trainers, helping them to gain their secondary teaching license in New Mexico by increasing recognition of the life science-heavy coursework associated with an athletic training degree. Gallegos became the deputy chief executive officer for Fyzical in 2007. This summer, he was elected vice president of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, representing 45,000 athletic trainers around the world.

Bobby Brooke Herrera ’12 is the recipient of the Young Alumni Service Award, recognizing a graduate under the age of 40 who has made great strides both professionally and philanthropically, shaping their community’s future through service.

Herrera has collaborated with academic institutions like Harvard University and industry partners to improve the health care systems in both the U.S. and low- and middle-income countries around the world. He is a role model for students and others interested in technology and its application to alleviate human suffering, particularly in the most vulnerable groups. His research focuses on developing medical technologies and treatments for viral infections such as COVID-19, monkeypox, Zika, and Ebola. He co-founded two biotech companies and is an incoming Presidential Assistant Professor at Rutgers’ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey.

This year’s award recipients will be honored at the Distinguished Alumni Dinner, set for Friday, Oct. 21st at the Farm and Ranch Museum, and will be recognized throughout NMSU’s homecoming week Oct. 17-22. To learn more about each awardee, full biographies are available at