Every fall, the New Mexico State University (NMSU) Alumni Association presents the university’s most accomplished alumni with its highest honors — the James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service, the Distinguished Alumni Awards, and the Young Alumni Service Award.
This year, Los Alamos native Wencil McClenahan is among the eight recipients announced Wednesday as the latest honorees, with careers ranging from healthcare to high tech to Hollywood.
Each recipient will be honored at the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Awards Celebration Today (Oct. 21) and recognized at the homecoming football game Saturday at Aggie Memorial Stadium.
“This year’s Distinguished Alumni stand for the best of the best, contributing greatly to their career fields, giving back to society, and representing NMSU boldly and brilliantly along the way,” NMSU Foundation President Derek Dictson said.
The NMSU Alumni Association has presented the Distinguished Alumni awards since 1956, adding the James F. Cole Memorial Award in 1966 and the Young Alumni Service Award in 2019. Honorees are selected by the Alumni Association Awards Committee based on personal accomplishment, professional achievement and charitable service.
The James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service recipient is Dr. Charles L. (Charley) Johnson ’61. The quintessential NMSU Aggie, Dr. Johnson was the greatest quarterback in NMSU football history before pursuing careers in both pro football (Houston Oilers, St. Louis Cardinals, Denver Broncos) and the oil business. He earned his master’s and doctorate degrees while playing in the NFL, and after serving in the Army for two years.
Dr. Johnson returned to his alma mater in 2000 to be head of the Chemical Engineering department. He also served as acting head football coach of the Aggies in 2009. A past winner of the Distinguished Alumni Award, Johnson’s support for NMSU includes being a mentor and coach, plus decades of charitable giving. He helped establish the Warren B. Woodson Endowed Fund in Athletics in 2003.
Distinguished Alumni honorees from each academic college are selected based on professional achievement and service throughout the university. This year’s winners span the nation, from Los Alamos to California to Massachusetts, with vastly different career paths. They all share a deep track record of leadership, community involvement and generosity toward NMSU.
- College of Engineering: Wencil McClenahan ‘91
Wencil McClenahan had a 25-year career with Boeing Company, where he was twice recognized as a World Class Engineer and selected as Boeing Associate Technical Fellow. There, he managed and led many multi-functional aircraft and aerospace technical teams and was an internal company consultant. He has been the champion for the NMSU Mechanical and Aerospace Academy for several years, following a seven-year stint as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering at NMSU.
- College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences: Dr. Michael Galyean ‘73
Dr. Galyean is the Paul Whitfield Distinguished Professor in the Department of Veterinary Sciences at Texas Tech University. He is one of the top beef cattle nutritionists in the world. As a university professor he has taught graduate courses in animal nutrition and statistics, conducted research in beef cattle nutrition and management, served as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Animal Science, and served as President of the American Society of Animal Science and the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists. The College of Arts and Sciences celebrates two award recipients as the historically largest college on campus: one from Fine Arts and Humanities, and one from the fields of Sciences and Social Sciences.
- College of Arts and Sciences – Fine Arts and Humanities: Don T. Foster ’81
Don T. Foster is a television writer/producer and creative consultant in Hollywood. He worked on some of the world’s most popular sitcoms for 25 years, including Roseanne, Dharma and Greg, Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory and Mike & Molly. For his work in television, Foster has received Golden Globe awards, Emmy nominations, People’s Choice awards and a Peabody. When not in California, he generously gives his time here in southern New Mexico, working with groups of students to tell stories of this region.
- College of Arts and Sciences – Sciences and Social Sciences: Dr. Kellie Ann Jurado ’11
Dr. Jurado’s groundbreaking work on Zika virus pathogenesis, established her as a leader in the field of infectious diseases. Her commitment to the inclusion of underrepresented groups in science displays the dedication she has towards fostering a more equitable environment for all. She is a leader in the field of virology. Dr. Jurado currently holds the title of Presidential Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and serves as the primary mentor of multiple postdoctoral and clinical fellows, graduate trainees, research technicians, and undergraduate research scholars.
- College of Business: Anthony Boor ‘89
Anthony (Tony) Boor is Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Blackbaud, a cloud software company powering the social good community—nonprofits, foundations, corporations, education institutions, healthcare organizations, religious organizations, and individual change agents. Boor is a frequent volunteer in his community, having served on the board of directors of the Lord’s Pantry at Anna’s House, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, and the Indiana State Museum. He also chaired the Charleston American Heart Association Heart Ball and Catholic Charities of South Carolina. He is now a member of the Greater Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce and a governance board member for Neighbors Together.
- College of Health, Education and Social Transformation: David Gallegos ‘97
An athletic trainer in the Las Cruces community, David Gallegos previously worked in minor league baseball with the Milwaukee Brewers, then moved to the NFL to join the Arizona Cardinals. He has worked to improve the experience of other athletic trainers working to gain their secondary teaching license in New Mexico by increasing recognition of the life science-heavy coursework associated with an athletic training degree. Gallegos became the Deputy CEO for Fyzical in 2007. This summer, he was elected Vice President of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, representing 45,000 Athletic Trainers around the world.
- Dr. Bobby Brooke Herrera ’12 is the recipient of the Young Alumni Service Award, recognizing a graduate under the age of 40 who has made great strides both professionally and philanthropically, shaping their community’s future through service. Dr. Herrera has collaborated with academic institutions like Harvard University and industry partners to improve the health care systems in both the U.S. and low- and middle-income countries around the world. He is a role model for students and others interested in technology and its application to alleviate human suffering, particularly in the most vulnerable groups. His research focuses on developing medical technologies and treatments for viral infections such as COVID-19, monkeypox, Zika, and Ebola. He co-founded two biotech companies and is an incoming Presidential Assistant Professor at Rutgers’ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey.
This year’s award recipients will be honored at the Distinguished Alumni Dinner, set for today, Oct. 21 at the Farm & Ranch Museum, and will be recognized throughout NMSU’s homecoming week.
Biography For Los Alamos Native Wencil McClenahan:
“In the process of discovering the root cause of a problem, forget about human error. Instead, provide the skills and tools and environment that will assure the task will be performed correctly and completely the first time. When you do this, you inspire your team to be resilient.”
Wencil McClenahan ’91 is a professional engineer with a 25-year career at Boeing Company, one of the top global aerospace companies in the world His contributions to Boeing have helped make it a global leader in the aerospace industry today.
Born and raised in Los Alamos, McClenahan was always fascinated by airplanes and cars. He built and flew powered model airplanes and worked on hot rod cars as a youth. He decided on NMSU because of his desire to become an engineer, knowing NMSU had a powerful reputation for engineering excellence.
He began pursuing his engineering degree in 1968 but took a couple of ‘gap decades’ during which he held leadership positions at several local auto dealerships and independent repair shops. Two decades later, he returned to NMSU to complete his education in Mechanical Engineering. To support his family, he held as many as six part-time jobs at a time. These included developing and teaching automotive classes in Electronic Fuel Injection and Computerized Engine Controls at the Doña Ana Community College, new topics at the time.
In 1991, McClenahan received his bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from New Mexico State University in with minors in Business Administration, Economics, and Environmental Management (WERC). After joining the team at Boeing Company, he received his master’s in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Washington.
During his time with Boeing Company, McClenahan had a significant role in the design and development of the Boeing 777. Later he led several multi-functional aircraft and aerospace technical teams across many product lines to resolve some of the most critical issues regarding safety and cost. He optimized a method to use analytical and probabilistic tools to improve products and processes. He later became an internal company consultant, working with Boeing and its suppliers. He was twice awarded the Boeing Company’s World Class Engineer award, and named a Boeing Associate Technical Fellow in recognition of his achievements.
At Boeing, McClenahan taught Six Sigma methods and techniques at various institutions, including NMSU. He was selected by the American Society for Quality as one of eight Six Sigma experts to serve as examiners for the first International Six Sigma Master Black Belt Certification.
McClenahan has devoted considerable time and resources to mentor young engineers. In addition to interns and co-op students from NMSU, he supported students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Michigan. At NMSU, he was President of the Mechanical & Aerospace Academy and a Member of the Dean’s Engineering Council. He continues to promote NMSU’s programs through his support for the College of Engineering.
McClenahan and his wife established the Wencil and Patricia McClenahan Endowed Opportunity Fund in 2018 to support mentorship activities including stipends and wages for student mentors in Learning Communities. He has been the champion for the NMSU Mechanical and Aerospace Academy for many years, and the Academy’s achievements in assisting the Department is a reflection on his technical, management and organizational skills and talents.
To learn more about each awardee, full biographies will be available here.