Exactly 436 students earned degrees from Western New Mexico University in spring 2022, and the Mustang community celebrated through a hybrid commencement ceremony on Friday evening. Of the graduates who received diplomas from WNMU this spring, more than 200 chose to participate in the commencement ceremony, with two thirds of those walking in person at Ben Altamirano Stadium and the other third of graduates turning their tassels over Zoom.
The university awarded 87 associate degrees, 150 bachelor’s degrees, 163 master’s degrees, 73 graduate certificates, 28 certificates and 10 fast-track certificates, along with five high school equivalency diplomas.
Recognized as new inductees in the WNMU Student Hall of Fame were Abigail Walter, Joaquin Delpino, Julissa Alaniz, Adrianna Darrow and Elizabeth Sorells. “The WNMU Student Hall of Fame is the highest recognition that can be earned by students and is reserved for those students who have demonstrated integrity and achievement through leadership activities, community involvement, participation in campus life, and scholarship,” said WNMU Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Isaac Brundage.
WNMU School of Social Work faculty member Erik Rolstad was presented the Outstanding Teacher Award, an honor bestowed on behalf of students.
The Excellence in Teaching Award went to philosophy professor Dr. Phillip Schoenberg for his devotion to ensure the quality of students’ learning experiences, possession of high scholarly standards and effective use of creative teaching approaches. “He is a patient, articulate scholar who is generous with his time and always encouraging and inspiring his students to ‘go beyond’ the objectives and requirements of each class,” one of his students attested.
Dr. Joel Blaxland, who is Assistant Professor of Political Science in the WNMU Social Science and Cultural Studies Department, accepted the Excellence in Research Award. Natural Sciences Department chair Dr. Kathy Whiteman, was given the Excellence in Professional Service Award.
“In nominating Dr. Whiteman for this award, a colleague emphasized her K-12 outreach with the U.S. Forest Service, her ongoing collaboration with the New Mexico State Land Office, and her work in coordination with the National Park System and New Mexico Highlands University in studying ecotourism in New Mexico,” said the committee chair, Dr. Andrew Hernandez.
Earning the Best Online Course Delivery Award was WNMU School of Nursing faculty member Rachael Richter, who enhances traditional instructional methods, provides exceptional assessment and feedback in a virtual classroom, and has a track record of substantive interaction with learners.
Dr. Alexandra Neves was presented with the Best Online Course Design Award, which is largely based on course layout, the current, online course review form assesses course design.
Spring graduates heard from Xochitl Torres Small, who is currently Under Secretary for Rural Development.