Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
Reporter: Stephanie Spencer and Betty Williamson
PORTALES – Five outstanding individuals will receive Eastern New Mexico University Alumni Awards at the 2003 Friends of Eastern Annual Homecoming breakfast, Saturday, Oct. 11, in the Campus Union Ballroom.
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson will receive the Honorary Lifetime Alumni Award. Recipients of the Outstanding Alumni Awards will be Judge Robert C. Brack of Las Cruces and Albert Smith of Gallup. Distinguished Service Awards will be presented to Governor Juan Nekai Babauta of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Jimmy Joe Robinson of Clovis.
Governor Richardson was elected in 2002 after serving 15 years in the U.S. House of Representatives representing the 3rd Congressional District in northern New Mexico. In his first year as governor he has pledged to improve education, cut tax es, build a high wage economy and develop a comprehensive statewide water plan.
While a congressman, Richardson was instrumental in obtaining a Veteran's Administration Clinic in Clovis and convincing milk producers to establish a processing plant in eastern New Mexico. He also served as a special envoy on many international missions and successfully won the release of hostages, American servicemen and risoners in North Korea, Iraq, Sudan and Cuba.
In 1997 Richardson was nominated to be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and in 1998 he was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Secretary of Energy. Richardson's concern for human rights abuses and his diplomatic work throughout the world earned him four nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Since 2001, Richardson has taught at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, the United World College in Montezuma, N.M., and assumed the chairmanship of Freedom House, a private, non-partisan organization that promotes democracy worldwide. He serves on several boards including the Natural Resource Defense Council and United Way International.
Judge Brack is the U.S. District Court Judge in Las Cruces, a position to which he was nominated by President George W. Bush. Prior to his recent confirmation, Brack served as a New Mexico District Court Judge for the 9th Judicial District for six years, including three years as chief judge. A 1971 graduate of Clovis High School, Brack completed his undergraduate work at ENMU in 1975, and earned his law degree in 1978 from the University of New Mexico.
Brack headed his own civil trial practice from 1980 until he was named a state District Court judge. During his years of trial practice he consistently provided pro bono legal services to his community. He was regularly appointed to represent individuals in abuse and neglect cases and he also provided legal assistance to local charities and disadvantaged clients. Licensed to practice in New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and the U.S. Supreme Court, Brack is a member of both the New Mexico Chief Judges Council and the New Mexico District Judges Association.
The Clovis native is chairman of the Communities for Christ organization and a founding member of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe Catholic Foundation. In 2001, he received the Clovis Chamber of Commerce's A Heart Award for Distinguished Public Service.
Albert Smith was one of the 400 Navajo Code Talkers who played a vital role in military communications during
World War II, and now devotes much of his time to traveling and speaking about his experiences. Born on the Navajo Reservation south of Gallup, he entered military service at the age of 15 and served from 1943 until 1945 in the United States Marine Corps. He served as a radio man through three major combat missions with the infantry and one combat mission with the 5th Amphibious Corps, Headquarters Company.
Smith graduated from ENMU in 1954 with a degree in elementary education. He taught in New Mexico, Oregon and Alaska before returning to the Navajo Reservation to direct an agency adult education program until his retirement in 1989. A past president of the Navajo Code Talkers Association, he still travels widely to lecture on the Code Talkers. Smith was the technical advisor and made a cameo appearance in the movie WindTalkers, and he is one of 75 Navajo men depicted in the book Warriors: Navajo Code Talkers. Smith was invited to Washington, D.C., to witness the Gold Congressional Awards which were presented by President George Bush to the four surviving members of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers, and last year Smith was recognized for his own service with a Silver Congressional Award presented to him at Window Rock, Ariz. He has also been nominated for Who's Who of the Southwest.
Juan Babauta was elected governor of the Northern Mariana Islands in November 2001. Born on Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, Babuata spent three years living and working on a dairy farm in Vermont where he graduated from high school. He completed his undergraduate studies at ENMU, receiving a bachelor's degree in American History in 1976. Babauta stayed at ENMU to complete a master's degree in political science from ENMU in December 1976. He later completed a second master's degree in health planning/administration from the University of Cincinnati in Ohio.
Babauta returned home to work in public health, first as the deputy director for the Commonwealth Health Planning and Development Agency, and then as its director from 1979 to 1986. In 1986, he began his career in public service when he was sworn in as a Senator of the Fifth and Sixth Northern Marianas Commonwealth Legislature.
In November 1989, Babuata won his first election as the resident representative to the United States. He served three four-year terms as Northern Marianas' representative to the United States in Washington, DC.
As governor, Babauta has pledged to stake the economic development of the Marianas on having a well-educated population. In keeping with the importance of tourism to the Marianas economy, he has also focused on maintaining and restoring the environment, particularly through completion of capital improvement projects to handle waste.
Jimmy Joe Robinson retired in 2001 following a 39-year career as a teacher and coach in New Mexico and west Texas. He compiled a basketball coaching record of 528-213 during 27 seasons at schools in Lubbock, Melrose, Grady and Clovis, where he averaged 20 wins per year. His teams won four state championships including back-to-back victories in 1978 and 1979 at Clovis High School.
Robinson was inducted into the New Mexico High School Coaches Hall of Honor in 1995 and received numerous "Coach of the Year" honors. His teams produced 55 All-State players, 75 All-District players, 25 All-Stars and five professional players. At least 15 players went on to coach at the high school and college levels throughout the nation. Ten former players joined the ministry and/or pursued international missionary work.
Active in both in his church and community, Robinson directed the Clovis Summer Basketball program for 16 years and was a member of several mission trips to Guatemala and Mexico. He was a church elder and participated in the Adult Jail Ministry program. Robinson also served as a sponsor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the largest interdenominational Christian sports organization in America.
Robinson received his bachelor's degree from ENMU in 1959 and his master's degree in 1964. While at Eastern, he participated in basketball, track and rodeo and was named "All Around Cowboy" in 1959.
Govenor Bill Richardson
Jimmy Joe Robinson