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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue: May 12, 2003
Volume 38, Number 20

Honorary degrees to be awarded
UNM commencement set for May 17

A self-described “poet of the people” and a researcher best known for his work on the origin of the solar system will receive honorary degrees at UNM's 2003 Spring Commencement ceremony, Saturday, May 17, at 9 a.m. in the University Arena (“The Pit”).

New Mexico poet Jimmy Santiago Baca will receive an Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree and former UNM faculty member Dr. Klaus Keil will receive an Honorary Doctor of Science Degree in recognition of their respective accomplishments.

A projected total of 2,718 degrees are to be conferred upon UNM main campus graduates at the ceremony. Of the total, the projected breakdown is as follows: 1,994 bachelor’s degrees; 428 master’s degrees, 74 doctorates; 85 juris doctorates; three post-master’s degrees; 67 medical doctorates; 63 pharmacy doctorates; and four education specialists degrees.


BacaBorn in Santa Fe, NM, in 1952, Baca was illiterate at the age of 21 when he was incarcerated in a maximum-security facility for selling drugs. Five years later, he emerged from prison with a passion for reading and writing poetry.

Today, he is widely-regarded as one of the nation’s top poets, reaching out to people not only through his poetry and books, but also through the writing workshops he conducts for children and adults at schools, colleges, reservations, barrios, ghettos and correctional facilities.

Among his numerous prestigious awards and prizes are the Pushcart Prize, the Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award, the International Prize, the 1997 City of Albuquerque Humanitarian Award, the 1996-97 winner of the World Champion Poetry Bout in Taos, the 1995 Endowed Hulbert Chair of Colorado College, the 1993 Southwest Book Award, the 1990 International Hispanic Heritage Award and the 1986 National Endowments Arts Literary Fellowship.

Baca is the author of “A Place to Stand,” a memoir and numerous books of poetry, including “Healing Earthquakes,” and “Black Mesa Poetry.”

His films, scripts and productions include “Bound by Honor (Blood In, Blood Out),” Disney Productions; and, “The Lone Wolf – The Story of Pancho Gonzalez,” HBO and Shoelace Productions.


KeilWorld-renowned researcher in cosmochemistry, meteoritics and planetary sciences, Keil is known for his work on the origin and early history of the solar system, including asteroids, the moon and Mars.

He was a principal investigator in NASA’s Apollo and Viking Programs and has served on numerous NASA and NSF committees.

Among other honors, Keil has received the NASA Apollo Achievement Award, the George P. Merrill Award of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal, the UNM Annual Research Lectureship, the UNM Regents’ Meritorious Service Medal, the UNM Alumni Association’s Zimmerman Award, the Leonard Medal of the Meteoritical Society and others.

He was a researcher at the University of California, La Jolla (1961-63) and the NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. (1963-1968). He then came to the UNM as director of the Institute of Meteoritics and professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (1968-1990), where he also served as presidential professor (1985-1990) and chair of the department (1986-1989).
He became head of the Planetary Geosciences Division and professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu (1990-1993) and, since 1994, has served as director of the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology at that University.

Keil received his master of science degree from Friedrich-Schiller University, Jena (1958) and Ph.D. from Johannes-Gutenberg University, Mainz (1961).

Numerous department convocations are planned in conjunction with commencement. The UNM Alumni Association will hold open house for graduating seniors Monday, May 12, through Friday, May 16, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Hodgin Hall. The group also cosponsors the annual UNM president’s reception and picnic set for Saturday, May 17, from 1 to 3 p.m. at University House, 1901 Roma NE.

For more information, visit www.unm.edu/~commence/.