Black Alumni Chapter Award Recipients
Living Legend Award
Melvin (Mel) Daniels
Following graduation from Detroit Pershing High School, Mel attended UNM and played for the Lobos basketball team from 1964-1967. He led the Lobos in scoring for 3 straight seasons and was the Western Athletic Conference MVP of the year in 1967. Mel finished his Lobo career with averages of 19.9 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. Mel was drafted in 1967 by the National Basketball Association (NBA) and American Basketball Association (ABA). He chose to play in the ABA for the Minnesota Muskies. Mel was the ABA Rookie of the year for the 1967-68 season before being traded to the Indiana Pacers. Mel was the ABA Most Valuable Player in both 1969 and 1971 and led the Pacers to three ABA championships. He led the ABA in rebounding average in three different seasons, and is the ABA's all-time leader in total rebounds (9,494) and career rebounding average (15.1 rebounds per game). After his playing days, Mel joined the coaching staff of his former UNM college coach, Bob King, at Indiana State where he coached future Hall of Famer Larry Bird. Mel joined the Indiana Pacers front office in 1986 and was the team’s Director of Player Personnel until October 2009. In 2012, Mel was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He is one of four players to have his jersey (#34) retired by the Pacers.
Tommie Jewell, Sr.
As an educator in the Albuquerque community, Tommie Jewell Sr. is a legend. He was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. He graduated from George Washington Carver High School, a segregated school, in 1944. From 1944-1946, he served in the U.S. Army. Following his Army service, he attended Phoenix Junior College and the University of Arizona where he earned a teaching degree in 1952. In 1954, Tommie moved with his family to Albuquerque and was hired to teach at the Albuquerque Indian School (Special Navajo Project). He taught at this school until 1973. During his tenure at the Indian School, Tommie earned a Master’s degree in Elementary Education from UNM in 1963. He began teaching on the Acomita Pueblo Reservation in 1973 until his retirement from Federal employment in 1980. Following his retirement, Tommie was hired as a substitute teacher for the Albuquerque Public School system where has been teaching at multiple levels and schools since 1980. In addition to his long teaching career, he has served in numerous organizations (NAACP, Boy Scouts, Omega Psi Phi fraternity, APS School Boosters). At the age of 90, Tommie remains active in his church and local community.
Upon graduation from high school in 1955, Neil joined the U.S. Air Force during which time he completed a program of studies in Engineering Drafting, and traveled to more than 20 countries. Neil’’s final base assignment was in Albuquerque at Kirtland Air Force Base. Following his honorable discharge from the Air Force in 1959, Neil worked a year with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers before enrolling for classes at UNM. Neil graduated from UNM in 1973 with Bachelors in University Studies. While a student at UNM, Neil served on the Radio Board and worked from 1968-1973 as a disc jockey at radio stations KBNM-FM, KRST-FM, KOB, & KDEF. On the air, Neil was known as the “Priest from the East”. Between 1957 and 1977, Neil was the only African-American on-air radio personality in New Mexico. Following graduation from UNM, he was hired by KOAT-TV where he later became the Promotion manager and sportscaster. In the mid-1970’s, Neil advanced to investigative reporter which resulted in regular appearances on the prime time news set for the program “Neil Murray—On Your Behalf”. He was the first African-American to hold this position in Albuquerque. Due to the rapid growth of Neil’s program segment, Larry Barker was hired as producer. Neil, Larry, & Albuquerque policeman, Greg MacAleese later collaborated to launch the Crimestoppers program.
Honors College Chapter Award Recipients
2015 Distinguished Alumni
Dr. James C. Moore, '66
Dr. James Collins Moore graduated from The University of New Mexico in 1966 with a BFA in Art History and as part of one of the General Honors Program’s first graduating classes.
Raised in Albuquerque, Dr. Moore left to pursue a PhD in American Art at Indiana University. He became a tenured professor at Wichita State University, served as curator of American art at the Toledo Museum of Art, and chaired the art history department for the University of Toledo. In 1979, he returned to Albuquerque to serve as the Director of The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, newly established in Old Town. In his 26-year career as Director of The Albuquerque Museum, Moore led the museum to become a major cultural asset in the Southwest. Under his tenure the museum mounted over 358 exhibitions, many of which had powerful regional and state inspired themes, bringing national and international recognition to New Mexico. He developed the museum’s permanent art and history collections, oversaw the development of over 100 educational programs each year, and managed architectural and programmatic plans for expansion. He was instrumental in the advancement of The Albuquerque Museum Foundation, adding significant financial resources to the endowment and acquiring three historical properties.
Dr. Moore has published work on Thomas Cole, Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Taos artists Ernest Blumenschein, Walter Ufer, and E. Martin Hennings, as well as contemporary artists in New Mexico. He has served on boards and committees local, state, and national, and continues to serve on local and state boards related to the art and museum community. In 2001 he received the Hewett Award for Exemplary Service to the Museum Community in New Mexico and in 2005 the Mayor’s A+ Award from the City of Albuquerque.
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