Alumni Award Recipients


James F. Zimmerman Award

John Mateczun ('73 BUS '78 MD)

John Mateczun retired with the rank of Vice Admiral from the U.S. Navy in 2012 after 38 years of active military service. During his last four years on active duty, he oversaw the largest and most complex Base Realignment and Closure project in the history of the Department of Defense while merging the National Naval Medical Center and the Walter Reed Army Medical Center into the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the nation's largest military medical center and rehabilitation facility. Mateczun earned his undergraduate and medical degrees from UNM and is board certified in Adult Psychiatry as well as Forensic Psychiatry. He also holds a Master of Public Health degree from University of California, Berkeley, and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. He is currently the President of UnitedHealthcare Military & Veterans.

Bernard S. Rodey Award

Garrett Sheldon ('77 BA)

Garrett Ward Sheldon is The John Morton Beaty Professor of Political and Social Sciences at the University of Virginia College at Wise. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from the UNM Honors Program in 1977 and earned a Ph.D. from Rutgers University. Dr. Sheldon has published 10 books in his fields of political theory and political theology, including "The Political Philosophy of Thomas Jefferson" and "Religion and Politics: Major Thinkers on the Relation of Church and State." He has been a Visiting Scholar at Oxford University; the University of Vienna, Austria; and Trinity College, Dublin. Professor Sheldon received the Outstanding Faculty in Virginia Award, the highest honor conferred on an academic by the Commonwealth. He is also an ordained Christian minister and author of the novel "What Would Jesus Do?"

Erna S. Fergusson Award

Michelle Coons ('83 BBA)

Michelle Coons is a true UNM, community and state of New Mexico leader and volunteer. Coons served as the National Alumni Association President in 1995 at the age of 34. Since then, she has served as Chair of the Anderson School of Management Foundation, Chair of the Robert O. Anderson School of Management National Advisory Board and is currently, a member of the UNM Hospital Board. In July of this year, she will become Chair of the UNM Foundation Board. Outside of UNM, her community involvement includes Board Chair of Accion NM, CO and AZ, board member of the Private Equity Investment Committee for the State Investment Council and member of the NM Women's Forum and the NM Amigos. Past service includes 2013 United Way Campaign Chair for Central NM, past ACI Board Chair and board member of the Santa Fe Rail Yard Community Corporation. Coons, who has served in the banking industry for 31 years, is President of First National Santa Fe and First National Rio Grande for New Mexico. She is the bank's first woman president since its inception in 1870.

Zia Awards

Cynthia Arndell (BSN '80, MD '94)

Arndell has spent her career working with the most marginalized populations – the elderly, developmentally disabled and homeless. After 12 years as a nurse, she went to medical school and upon graduation served as medical director at Healthcare for the Homeless in Albuquerque before joining the faculty of the UNM School of Medicine, where her focus is on developing curriculum that addresses health inequities.

Bette Jo Sisneros-Ciesielski (BA '90)

Sisneros-Ciesielski is the founder and CEO of the New Mexico Community Health Worker Association, which has been training community health workers since 1995. She led the organization in incorporating as a non-profit and created Passion for Fashion, a thrift boutique that raises funds for the organization. She has managed community health worker programs under UNM Hospital, Gila Regional Medical Center and the Support, Empowerment Advocacy and Doulas Project.

Kirk Gittings (BUS '72)

Gittings, known for his architectural and cultural landscape photography, has been widely published and exhibited across the country. His work has been the subject of a retrospective exhibit at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History and a book, "Shelter from the Storm: The Photographs of Kirk Gittings." Gittings is currently on the faculty at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Santa Fe University of Art and Design.

Rene Matison (BS '69)

Matison, one of UNM's fastest sprinters, was a four-year letterman in track and field and a two-time All American. After playing one year on the UNM football team, he was a 13th round NFL draft pick. Matison retired from a career in human resources and now volunteers his time mentoring African American students in athletics through the Zest for Excellence in Athletics & Learning program.

Frank McCulloch (BS '53)

A painter of New Mexico landscapes for more than 50 years, McCulloch is recipient of the New Mexico Governor's Award in the Arts, the Albuquerque Arts Alliance Bravos Award and has been named an Albuquerque "Local Treasure" and a UNM distinguished alumnus. His legacy has been covered in Southwest Art Magazine, New Mexico Magazine, Art News and American Artist.

Coleman Travelstead (BAED '69)

Travelstead worked in finance and publishing in San Francisco, New York, Miami, Japan and Taiwan before returning to New Mexico in 2000 as director of project management at Technology Ventures Corporation, where he founded Innovation Magazine. He has served on the boards of the UNM Alumni Association, KUNM Radio, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History Foundation, the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and the New Mexico Entrepreneurs Association.

Lobo Award

Gilbert V. Herrera (BSCPE '81)

Herrera is the director of the Laboratory for Physical Sciences (LPS), a National Security Agency (NSA) research institute on the University of Maryland campus. At his former position at Sandia, he was responsible for a 600-person, $250 million research and development center. He also managed the MESA complex, the largest capital investment in the history of Sandia. Herrera also served as an AAAS/Sloan Foundation White House Science Fellow at the Office of Science and Technology Policy under President George H. W. Bush.

Inspirational Young Alumnus Awards

Jeffrey Andersen (BAFA '07)

After graduating from UNM with a degree in theater and dance, Anderson became the founding artistic director of Blackout Theatre. Anderson also works as development director and enrichment coordinator for Children's Choice, which provides no-cost after school programming to nearly 2,000 students every year. He has also served on the boards of the Kiwanis Club of Albuquerque, Make Theatre Company and the Albuquerque Theatre Guild.

Faculty Teaching Award

Steven McLaughlin

Steven McLaughlin is a Regents' Professor and Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine. Originally from Seattle, McLaughlin was a resident in emergency medicine at UNM from 1995 to 1998. He joined the faculty of the Department of Emergency Medicine in 1998. He was drawn to stay in New Mexico by his love of the mountains and open spaces. McLaughlin says that the Department of Emergency Medicine produces great academic research, great clinical care and provides amazing educational experiences for students, residents, and fellows. McLaughlin's academic interests include feedback and debriefing, human simulation, wilderness medicine, airway management, procedural sedation, and oral hypoglycemic poisoning. His teaching activities have included running the emergency medicine residency program for seven years, growing the programs for simulation based education at UNM and most recently contributing to an innovative program of feedback training for faculty and students. McLaughlin is recognized nationally as one of the experts in simulation based education for emergency medicine. Outside of work, McLaughlin loves spending time with his wife and three children, trail running, and traveling.

For questions or more information:

Alumni Relations Office
O: 505-277-5808
800-ALUM-UNM (258-6866)
E: alumni@unm.edu