Commencement set for May 14 at Pit
Scientist, author, actor to receive honorary degrees
Major General Alfred A. Valenzuela, United States Army retired, will deliver the commencement address at UNM’s spring commencement Saturday, May 14, at 9 a.m. in the University Arena, “the Pit.”
Valenzuela is ranked among the “100 Most Influential Hispanics” by Hispanic Business magazine. Founder of an educational foundation, he oversees several charter schools for at-risk children in San Antonio, Texas. He also serves on the board of directors for the Cuban American National Council for Education. He has more than 33 years experience overseeing military forces and is a consultant for Fortune 500 companies.
Author/scientist David Brugge, actor/humanitarian Ricardo Montalbán and author Leslie Marmon Silko will receive honorary degrees at the ceremony.
UNM President Louis Caldera will confer a projected total of 2,625 degrees upon UNM main campus graduates – 1,749 bachelor’s degrees, 552 master’s degrees, five post-master’s degrees, 99 doctorates, 92 juris doctorates, 57 medical doctorates, 70 pharmacy doctorates and one education specialist.
UNM Board of Regents President James Koch, administrators, deans, faculty and staff are among the platform group. Richard W. Holder, deputy provost, is master of ceremonies, and Vivian Valencia, University Secretary, chief marshal.
Benito Martinez III, graduating with a bachelor’s of science in chemical engineering, is the student speaker. A peer mentor with the Amistades Program, Martinez was president of the student’s Hispanic Engineering and Science Organization.
The University Band, conducted by Eric Rombach-Kendall will play a selection of music for the ceremony’s prelude and processional. Cody Wesner will sing the national anthem and alma mater. F. Chris Garcia, former UNM president, will recognize honors graduates and award the Tom L. Popejoy Dissertation Prize to Karmen Lenz, English, for “Images of Psychic Landscape in the Meters of King Alfred’s ‘Book of Consolation.’”
Following the ceremony, the UNM Alumni Association, in conjunction with President and Mrs. Louis Caldera, invite graduates, their family and friends, to a reception on the University House lawn from 1 to 3 p.m.
The association will hold an open house for graduating seniors Monday – Friday, May 9-13, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Hodgin Hall. Convocation ceremonies will be held at various departments and colleges May 13-14.
Honorary Degree Recipients
Honorary Doctor of Letters
David Brugge, class of 1950, is a pillar in Southwestern studies and a legend in anthropological circles. As author, scientist, curator, researcher and consultant, he has contributed to the body of knowledge on anthropology, archaeology, material culture, land use, rock art, ethnobotany, linguistics, intercultural dynamics, repatriation, bibliography and more. A prolific scholar, he has coauthored with every major Southwestern archeologist during the past half century. Known internationally for books on the ethnohistory of the Chaco Navajo, Brugge’s literature is about the material culture of peoples of the Southwest.
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters
Among the first Latinos to appear on the silver screen, Ricardo Montalbán’s acting career spans more than six decades. A champion for the Hispanic voice, he insisted on playing roles in film and television that dispelled stereotypes. He has raised millions of dollars for education and social causes.
Montalbán has worked on more than 100 films and has dozens of television credits. In 1970, he helped found “Nosotros,” to provide Hispanics with educational opportunities in the performing arts. He has worked for two decades with the global relief effort World Vision. Montalbán promotes the creative arts in New Mexico through the National Hispanic Cultural Center.
Leslie Marmon Silko,
Honorary Doctor of Letters
Life affirming stories woven by Laguna Pueblo elders shaped the early education of brilliant writer and intellectual Leslie Marmon Silko, class of 1969. One of the foremost authors to emerge from the Native American literary tradition of the 1970s, she is widely recognized for prose that encapsulates Native American people, places and culture. Silko graduated magna cum laude from UNM with a bachelor’s in English. She briefly attended law school before deciding to pursue a writing career. Her first novel “Ceremony” (1977) is a college syllabi staple. Honored with the MacArthur Foundation “genius award” in 1981, she has been named a Living Cultural Treasure by the New Mexico Endowment of the Humanities.