More than 350 students earned degrees from Western New Mexico University in spring 2021, and the Mustang community celebrated through a hybrid commencement ceremony on Friday afternoon. Of the graduates who received diplomas from WNMU this spring, about 250 chose to participate in the commencement ceremony, with 150 walking in person at Ben Altamirano Stadium and 97 turning their tassels over Zoom.
The university awarded 37 associate degrees, 121 bachelor’s degrees, 152 master’s degrees, 68 graduate certificates, 10 applied technology certificates, six fast-track certificates, and five high school equivalency diplomas.
Recognized as new inductees in the WNMU Student Hall of Fame were Taylor Allison, Kelli McGhiey, Harry O’Callaghan, Samantha Starr-Sullenger and Laruni Witty.
“The WNMU Student Hall of Fame is the highest recognition that can be earned by students at the university and is reserved for those students who have demonstrated integrity and achievement through leadership activities, community involvement, participation in campus life, and scholarship,” said Dr. Isaac Brundage, who is Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.
WNMU Natural Science faculty member Dr. Bill Norris was presented the Outstanding Teacher Award by Fernando Martinez, who is the student government president.
Drs. Shepard and math professor Scott Smith presented the faculty awards. The Excellence in Teaching went to Assistant Professor of Painting and Drawing Jennifer Douglass, who engaged students in art shows and workshops throughout the year. Psychology Dr. Jennifer Coleman, who has championed the Student Research and Professional Development fund, accepted the Excellence in Research award. Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work Sarah Guck earned the Excellence in Professional Service award for her work as the university ombudsperson and a key mental health crisis response team member during an unprecedented year.
WNMU also awarded Honorary Doctorates of Laws to both former WNMU Regent Chair Jerry A. Walz and former District 35 Senator John Arthur Smith.
WNMU closely followed the New Mexico Higher Education Department guidelines for commencement ceremonies at institutions, implementing strict expectations for in-person attendees, limiting spectator capacity, and enforcing current public health orders and university protocols.
An archived recording of the spring 2021 graduation is available wnmu.edu.