Distinguished Service Award, Dr. Lonnie Alexander
At 16 years old, Dr. Lonnie Alexander (BS 78) left his family's farm near Espanola, New Mexico to travel the world with Up With People – a global youth organization focused on bring the world together through service and music. In 1969 he was drafted into the Army, where he served as a medic in Vietnam until 1971. He then returned home to New Mexico where he began his formal education to become a family physician … a goal that turned into a 32-year medical practice.
Dr. Alexander came to ENMU in 1972 to study agriculture. He graduated from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine in 1982 and completed his family practice residency from the University of Colorado. He began his career in Oregon in 1985, but returned to Portales the next year to take over for his friend and local family physician at the time, Dr. Robert Coleman.
Over the next 12 years, Dr. Alexander became the iconic and beloved doctor of the Portales and Roosevelt County communities. He truly was a family physician. From the delivery of babies and care of women before, during and after their pregnancies, to the care of children, teenagers, men, and the elderly, Dr. Alexander was reliable and steadfast. In 1997 he turned his career to focus on women's health and joined Women's Medical Center where he practiced until his retirement in August of 2017.
When asked what advice he would give to today's medical students, Dr. Alexander stated: "Take full advantage of every educational opportunity. I felt like the degree that I got at Eastern prepared me very well for medical school. I applied in 1978 along with four other students from ENMU. All five of us were accepted, and all five of us had productive medical careers."
Dr. Alexander's wife, Karen Alexander (MED 77, BS 74), taught reading education for 13 years at ENMU, and the couple has two grown children and three beautiful granddaughters. In retirement, Dr. Alexander has been working on the couple's various rental properties and things he had been putting off for years.
Honorary Lifetime Award, Dr. Patrice Caldwell
Dr. Patrice Caldwell received her bachelor's in English from the University of Southern California and her master's and Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles. She began her academic career at ENMU in 1980 … and never left.
Serving as assistant professor and director of Freshman Composition from 1980-84, she chaired the department of Languages and Literature from 1984-88. In 1988, after a national search, she became dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. When ENMU received the prestigious Pew Leadership Award for Institutional Renewal in 1997, she became the director of that grant, which launched ENMU's Freshman Seminar and substantially enhanced campus technology.
The next year, she moved to the office of Planning and Analysis, where she continued her work with grants, strategic planning and institutional data. This August, her title changed to vice president for Planning, Analysis and Governmental Relations, and she became ENMU Chief of Staff. As a faculty member, she happily taught grammar, writing and literature courses, Women's Studies and – her favorite – Victorian literature to ENMU students.
Dr. Caldwell received the Presidential Award for Teaching Excellence in 1986. Her happiest teaching memories are team-teaching creative writing and science fiction with Dr. Jack Williamson, especially their "final exams" held at Jack's home over burgers and salad. She has been a board member for the ENMU Friends of Music since 1997, and has served as their president for the past 17 years. She also actively supports the arts on campus and is a loyal attendee during ENMU Athletics and student activities. In addition to her dedication to the University, Dr. Caldwell is very involved in the community, donating her time to United Way, Meals on Wheels and other projects.
Outstanding Alumni Award, Mike Smartnick
After attending classes for three years at ENMU, Mike Smartnick (BA 83) took his father's advice and enrolled in his first computer programming class, which led him to his 35-year career in information technology.
His career began during his undergraduate studies, working in the University Computer Center, as well as through several energy industry internships. These experiences were the beginning of his love affair with technology. Mike's wife would tell you that he has had a "square-headed girlfriend" (e.g. the computer) for the entirety of their 34-year marriage.
Upon graduating with his bachelor's degree, Mike worked as a programmer taking on assignments in the engineering and operational fields, while also adding skills to his business information systems background. He also continued his education at Webster University where he completed his master's degree with emphasis in computer resource management.
The vast majority of Mike's career has been spent working in the energy sector. He is privileged to have worked alongside people who set industry standards for safety through automation and to have worked for companies who care about environmental and energy conservation. He has been able to contribute to these efforts on behalf of his employers and the community with a solid educational foundation, and his experiences have given him a firm understanding of the industry, technologies and the innovative people who work in the field.
For More Information
ENMU Station 8
1500 S Ave K
Portales, NM 88130