ENMU Foundation, ENMU Alumni Association and ENMU College of Education Awards to be Presented at Homecoming Breakfast on Oct. 13

The recipients of this year's awards.
The recipients of this year's awards.

ENMU Foundation, ENMU Alumni Association and ENMU College of Education Awards to be Presented at Homecoming Breakfast on Oct. 13

The 2018 Eastern New Mexico University Foundation, ENMU Alumni Association and ENMU Educator Hall of Honor Awards will be presented at the ENMU Foundation Homecoming Breakfast on Saturday, Oct. 13, in the Campus Union.

Recipients are Christian House Foundation for Business of the Year, Ron and Sarah Holcomb for Philanthropists of the Year, and Terry Othick for Volunteer of the Year. The Alumni Association Award recipients are Dr. Lonnie Alexander for Distinguished Service, Dr. Patrice Caldwell with the Honorary Lifetime Award, and Mike Smartnick receiving Outstanding Alumni Honoree. The College of Education "Educators Hall of Honor" inductees are Kenneth Chancellor and Dr. Socorro Herrera.



Since its conception 42 years ago, the Christian House Foundation has been a faithful supporter of ENMU. Chartered in 1976 by the state of New Mexico, the foundation's purpose was to receive and administer property, endowments, trust funds and gifts for purposes of furthering Christian education on a non-denominational basis at ENMU. By providing scholarships for students and furthering the development of the Christian Campus House, located adjacent to the main ENMU campus in Portales, the foundation has positively affected the educational experience for hundreds of students.

In 2006, when ENMU alumna Jean Hall (BME 75, MED 75, BS 70) passed away, in her will she remembered the Christian House Foundation with a generous gift in memory of her beloved father E.C. Luna. She asked that the Christian House Foundation use these funds to continue providing scholarships for deserving ENMU students. During their lives, Mrs. Hall and her family were very active in the community. Her father, E.C. Luna, managed the J.C. Penney store in Portales for many years, and Jean's husband, Bud Hall, ran the Office Center in Clovis. From ENMU, Jean earned bachelor's degrees in elementary education and music education, and a master's in elementary education.

Over the years, many people contributed to this fund to help grow the campus ministry and scholarship offerings. Then, in December 2017, the Christian House Foundation board of directors transferred these assets to the ENMU Foundation to administer and honor the scholarship tradition.

"Nearly everybody involved with the Christian House Foundation had some connection with the University," said Christian House Foundation Board Member Kenneth Broad. "R.B. Allen was a giant of a man and he loved helping students. The Christian Campus House was the brainchild of Clarence Worley. Our mission is upheld by Eastern, that's why it was a natural thing to pass the torch."

The Christian House Foundation was governed by a seven-member board of directors, who were appointed from the congregations of the Central Christian Church and First Christian Church in Clovis, as well as the Central Christian Church in Portales. Founding members included R.B Allen, J.D. Peters, Jr., Nick C. Brady (BBA 71), Fred R. Fien, Ned Wright (BBA 70), Clarence Worley, and Dr. Buck Wilson (BS 60).

christian house foundation


Since their attendance in the 1950s, Ron and Sarah Holcomb have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to ENMU. They have been significant financial backers of the Greyhound Club, the ENMU Alumni Association and the ENMU Foundation for the past 27 years. During the construction of ENMU's new Greyhound Stadium, they stepped up as loyal patrons and were thrilled to see the beautiful stadium back on campus for students to enjoy.

In addition to their financial generosity, Ron and Sarah enthusiastically dedicate their time to the University. The couple returns to Portales multiple times per year to cheer on the Greyhounds during athletic events and Homecoming. Ron also served on the ENMU Alumni board for a number of years, acting as president from 1984-85. He is currently a member of the ENMU Foundation board.

"When Sarah and I attended Eastern, obviously the school was a lot smaller," Ron explained. "At the time, there were so many people who were really influential in my life. Some professors – Barron Stuart, Arvel Branscum, Becky Sharp and President Floyd Golden – and of course coaches Al Garten and Carl Richardson. Over the years, I have thought about those people a lot. They were dedicated to the students and their love of Eastern was so apparent to me that I absorbed a lot of that, I guess, because it did wear off on me and has made a huge impact in our lives."

"It's just a great school," Sarah confirmed. "We've watched it grow and it's really come a long way. We're just so proud that we had the opportunity to go there."

Ron and Sarah first met in Portales while attending ENMU. Ron became ENMU's very first All-American football player and was also one of Eastern's top tennis players with a Texas Conference championship in both singles and doubles play. In 1984, ENMU Athletics held their first Hall of Honors banquet, and they inducted Ron as one of their first honorees.

After graduation, Ron and Sarah were married and moved their growing family to Guam, while Ron spent some time in the military. After his service, Ron dabbled in a few career fields – including as the manager of a hamburger restaurant. He eventually worked his way into the oil business. Sarah and Ron have three grown children and currently reside in Midland, Texas. Although they still conduct work in the oil business, the couple also tries to absorb as much cool, fresh air as they can at their mountain home along the Highway of Legends in Colorado.

ron and sarah holcomb


Terry Othick (MBA 70, BBA 68) has been bleeding green and silver for more than 50 years – dedicating his time, energy and money to ENMU. As an active member of the ENMU Alumni Association, he was an influential member of the committee that started the Alumni Golf Tournament nine years ago. He has volunteered for the event every year since, and helped raise more than $300,000 for alumni scholarships. Mr. Othick has also served on the ENMU Board of Regents since 2015, for which he served as president and vice president. More recently, he spent a significant amount of time and work as the chair of the search committee for ENMU's current president, Dr. Jeff Elwell.

In 2013, ENMU Alumni Affairs awarded Mr. Othick with the Distinguished Service Award for his dedication and success in fundraising. He also remains in close contact with members from the Kappa Sigma chapter he joined while at ENMU, and the fraternity recently inducted him into their Theta Zeta chapter Hall of Fame.

Mr. Othick greatly enjoys volunteering for ENMU. He explained that it is his personal belief "that the opportunity to pursue a post-secondary education should be made available to any individual who desires and strives to earn a certificate or degree. One way all of us can help those aspiring students reach their goals and dreams is to donate whatever time and money we can afford to ENMU."

At the start of his 50-year career as a computer operator and programmer, Mr. Othick taught a variety of graduate and undergraduate technology courses at ENMU. After moving to Albuquerque in 1975, he served as chief information officer (CIO) for Public Service Company of New Mexico and for the New Mexico Department of Labor, and as executive director of operations and technology for a large school district. He was also a technology consultant for an Albuquerque technology firm and taught at UNM for more than 20 years. He currently provides IT consulting services to schools and small businesses.

Mr. Othick's wife Sissy (MED 74, BS 71) is a Portales native who earned two degrees from ENMU and her Ph.D. from UNM. The couple currently volunteers for Saranam, a supportive community that provides housing and education for homeless families in Albuquerque. They are also consistent supporters of Special Olympics. Terry and Sissy have one daughter, Ashlee, who owns three veterinarian practices in Albuquerque, and six grandchildren ranging in age from 3 to 17 years old.

terry othick
Photo by Times Remembered Photography



At 16 years old, Dr. Lonnie Alexander (BS 78) left his family's farm near Espanola, New Mexico to travel the world with Up With People – a global youth organization focused on bring the world together through service and music. In 1969 he was drafted into the Army, where he served as a medic in Vietnam until 1971. He then returned home to New Mexico where he began his formal education to become a family physician … a goal that turned into a 32-year medical practice.

Dr. Alexander came to ENMU in 1972 to study agriculture. He graduated from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine in 1982 and completed his family practice residency from the University of Colorado. He began his career in Oregon in 1985, but returned to Portales the next year to take over for his friend and local family physician at the time, Dr. Robert Coleman.

Over the next 12 years, Dr. Alexander became the iconic and beloved doctor of the Portales and Roosevelt County communities. He truly was a family physician. From the delivery of babies and care of women before, during and after their pregnancies, to the care of children, teenagers, men, and the elderly, Dr. Alexander was reliable and steadfast. In 1997 he turned his career to focus on women's health and joined Women's Medical Center where he practiced until his retirement in August of 2017.

When asked what advice he would give to today's medical students, Dr. Alexander stated: "Take full advantage of every educational opportunity. I felt like the degree that I got at Eastern prepared me very well for medical school. I applied in 1978 along with four other students from ENMU. All five of us were accepted, and all five of us had productive medical careers."

Dr. Alexander's wife, Karen Alexander (MED 77, BS 74), taught reading education for 13 years at ENMU, and the couple has two grown children and three beautiful granddaughters. In retirement, Dr. Alexander has been working on the couple's various rental properties and things he had been putting off for years.

lonnie alexander


Dr. Patrice Caldwell received her bachelor's in English from the University of Southern California and her master's and Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles. She began her academic career at ENMU in 1980 … and never left.

Serving as assistant professor and director of Freshman Composition from 1980-84, she chaired the department of Languages and Literature from 1984-88. In 1988, after a national search, she became dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. When ENMU received the prestigious Pew Leadership Award for Institutional Renewal in 1997, she became the director of that grant, which launched ENMU's Freshman Seminar and substantially enhanced campus technology.

The next year, she moved to the office of Planning and Analysis, where she continued her work with grants, strategic planning and institutional data. This August, her title changed to vice president for Planning, Analysis and Governmental Relations, and she became ENMU Chief of Staff. As a faculty member, she happily taught grammar, writing and literature courses, Women's Studies and – her favorite – Victorian literature to ENMU students.

Dr. Caldwell received the Presidential Award for Teaching Excellence in 1986. Her happiest teaching memories are team-teaching creative writing and science fiction with Dr. Jack Williamson, especially their "final exams" held at Jack's home over burgers and salad. She has been a board member for the ENMU Friends of Music since 1997, and has served as their president for the past 17 years. She also actively supports the arts on campus and is a loyal attendee during ENMU Athletics and student activities. In addition to her dedication to the University, Dr. Caldwell is very involved in the community, donating her time to United Way, Meals on Wheels and other projects.

dr patrice caldwell


After attending classes for three years at ENMU, Mike Smartnick (BA 83) took his father's advice and enrolled in his first computer programming class, which led him to his 35-year career in information technology.

His career began during his undergraduate studies, working in the University Computer Center, as well as through several energy industry internships. These experiences were the beginning of his love affair with technology. Mike's wife would tell you that he has had a "square-headed girlfriend" (e.g. the computer) for the entirety of their 34-year marriage.

Upon graduating with his bachelor's degree, Mike worked as a programmer taking on assignments in the engineering and operational fields, while also adding skills to his business information systems background. He also continued his education at Webster University where he completed his master's degree with emphasis in computer resource management.

The vast majority of Mike's career has been spent working in the energy sector. He is privileged to have worked alongside people who set industry standards for safety through automation and to have worked for companies who care about environmental and energy conservation. He has been able to contribute to these efforts on behalf of his employers and the community with a solid educational foundation, and his experiences have given him a firm understanding of the industry, technologies and the innovative people who work in the field.

mike smartnick



Kenneth Earl Chancellor (BS 86) graduated from ENMU in 1986 with a bachelor's degree in industrial education. He returned to his hometown of Moriarty, New Mexico as an industrial arts teacher at Moriarty Middle School and then the local high school.

He is a lifelong educator who continues to bring passion, enthusiasm and high standards to his vocational shop classes every day. He has touched the lives of thousands of students over the course of his 30-year career. Mr. Chancellor became a National Board Certified Teacher in 2008 – a significant achievement and unusual within his field of teaching expertise.

Over the course of his teaching career, Ken has also sponsored the Technical Students Association, served on school and district leadership teams, taught countless dual credit courses for high school and college credit, and mentored new teachers. Ken involves his students with community service projects, making it a point to give back to his school, district and community. He has shaped the minds, skills and character of the youth up and down the Moriarty valley.

ken chancellor


Dr. Socorro Herrera (MA 90, BS 84) graduated from ENMU with a bachelor's in elementary education in 1984. While employed in Dora and Portales as a teacher, she received her master's in multicultural guidance and counseling. In 1995, she earned her Educational Psychology Ph.D. at Texas Tech University, before continuing her career in higher education by teaching elementary education at Kansas State University, where she's taught for more than 23 years.

Dr. Herrera has made outstanding contributions in the field of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at national and international levels. Her extensive record of grantsmanship supported these efforts across multiple universities.

Dr. Herrera was instrumental in collaborating with Dr. Julia Rosa Emslie to bring significant grant money to ENMU through Project Maestros, which educated numerous undergraduates in bilingual education, and through Las Estrellas, which provided master's degrees in administration with emphasis on English learners for many ENMU graduate students.

dr socorro herrera