Alumni Award Recipients
Lobo Award, 2012
Rosalie Otero is the director and key builder of the UNM Honors Program. She is also the Associate Dean of University College and has coordinated of many interdisciplinary study programs throughout UNM. She is retiring this year. Her major focus is on strengthening the UNM Honors Program and promoting and advancing Honors education for outstanding students everywhere. She is a national leader in the National Collegiate Honors Council (President 2002-2003) as well international work – especially in Latin America.
It’s an honor to honor the director of honors. But upon my honor, there is no one more deserving of the Lobo Award than Rosalie Otero, known to the students in the Honors Program as Dr. O.
Rosalie chose to be a teacher at an early age, making her friends in Taos play school with her. She went away to college in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but came home to UNM for her master’s and PhD in English. She taught at the University of Albuquerque for 13 years before its closing. Then the UNM Honors Program lured her back to her alma mater.
Rosalie became the associate director of the Honors Program in 1988 and its director in 1995. She was named Associate Dean of University College in 2001. Over the course of these and subsequent years, she has brought the excitement of ideas and discovery to UNM’s most creative and intelligent students. Each year more than 1200 students choose from around 60 Honors Program seminars. Many honors students have received prestigious national scholarships, making UNM shine.
As a matter of honor, I must point out the non-academic side of the Honors Program. Many honors students would be hard-pressed to say which is more rewarding: the challenging classes or the community of scholar-friends who view the honors center as their UNM home...a place of honor.
Given the university’s high priority upon student retention, that feeling of belonging, of having a place is paramount. The Freshmen Learning Communities share that goal, and are modeled to a great extent upon the Honors Program’s successes. Rosalie has served on the Freshmen Learning Communities Advisory Committee since 2000.
In fact, Rosalie has served upon countless UNM committees. Most recently these have included the Core Curriculum Task Force, the Steering Committee for Chicano Studies, and the Teaching Enhancement Committee. The Board of the Alumni Association was also honored by Rosalie’s service.
Rosalie is president of the Western Regional Honors Council, and has written broadly about honors programs and colleges. She is in constant demand for assessing and evaluating honors programs and colleges across the nation.
The 1,350 colleges and universities of the National Collegiate Honor Council know how deserving Rosalie is. They honored her as a Fellow of their organization and dedicated an issue of their journal to her. They elected her their president. They called her a “strong and eloquent advocate” and hailed her “gentle but firm leadership.”
Faculty and students alike appreciate Rosalie’s open door, attentive listening, invitations to participate, and efforts on their part. Due to Rosalie’s efforts, the UNM honors program is one of the first in the nation to have its own tenured faculty.
But we all are the beneficiaries of Rosalie’s efforts. Because of them, the Honors Program develops lifelong learners who think across disciplines, students who can work with complex topics and situations, and citizens who can participate intelligently in a democratic society.
It is time to honor this strong and eloquent, gentle but firm leader on our campus with our Lobo Award. Rosalie, for your vision and dedication, the university is a more vibrant and innovative place. We thank you and are honored to honor you today.