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Lou and Mary Henson, Herb Torres to be honored by NMSU’s College of Education

New Mexico State University’s College of Education will honor Lou and Mary Henson and Herb Torres with Aggie Cornerstone Awards at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 9, at the Las Cruces Convention Center, 680 E. University Ave.

Established in 2012, the Aggie Cornerstone Award celebrates excellence in education and recognizes individuals who have made a significant impact on children and families in New Mexico.

Lou and Mary Henson have had a deep and long-term impact on education at NMSU, going back to their attendance at the university in the 1950s. As head coach of the NMSU men’s basketball team and later as head coach at the University of Illinois, Henson took teams from both universities to the NCAA Final Four, one of only 12 coaches in college basketball history to accomplish the feat. He also served as athletic director at NMSU from 1968-1975.

“Lou and Mary Henson are a dynamic duo, and a wonderful example of what community service is for the Las Cruces community,” said College of Education Dean Michael Morehead. “They have a legacy that’s nationwide, and of course in our local community with the Boys and Girls Club and NMSU; they are the best example of what the Aggie Cornerstone Award is all about. They truly serve the students and children in our area, and we want to thank them for their service.”

Lou Henson will be inducted into the NABC College Basketball Hall of Fame in November. Other honors garnered throughout his career were being highlighted in Coach and Athlete magazine, Coach of the Year, 1967; Sports Illustrated, Top Twenty Coaches, December 1972; and ESPN, National Coach of the Year, 1984. He was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in 1993 and made 19 NCAA Tournament appearances and five National Invitation Tournament (NIT) appearances. Lou ranks 11th on the all-time career Division I wins list with 779.

Mary Henson also has a long history of support for the university, serving as an active member of the NMSU Women’s Club and on the board of Myrna’s Children’s Village, Aggies for Kids.

In 1971, Mary was designated as an Outstanding Young Woman of America for her service to public school drug education. In 2004, she and Lou received the Branding Iron Service Award from NMSU, and Mary was honored with the City of Las Cruces Mayor’s Service Award in 2009. In 2012, Mary was named as a Las Cruces Realtor’s Citizen of the Year recipient along with three other chairwomen for their work in Tough Enough to Wear Pink, a fundraising entity whose funds go to NMSU and the University of New Mexico for cancer research.

Lou and Mary have established the Lou and Mary Henson Endowment Scholarship for NMSU Basketball and the Lou and Mary Henson Annual Community Breakfast and Reception to benefit the Las Cruces Boys and Girls Club.

“We feel indebted to NMSU for assisting us in numerous ways as students and beyond,” said Mary Henson. “We have grown to love NMSU for its mission, and to cherish the wonderful people associated with NMSU. Throughout the years we have received great support from both NMSU and the Las Cruces community. It is our enduring hope that New Mexico State University continues to thrive and maintain its status as one of the leading universities in the country.”

Torres, who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at NMSU, had an extensive career in education in New Mexico, including 17 years in the Gadsden Independent School District as a teacher, principal, associate superintendent and deputy superintendent; 18 years in the Silver Consolidated School District including eight years as superintendent; and seven years as an administrator for the Las Cruces Catholic School.

In 2002, Torres joined the College of Education’s Educational Management & Development Department at NMSU as a college instructor and master’s program admissions adviser. Torres remained at NMSU until 2007, when he became associate superintendent of operations for the Las Cruces Public Schools, a position he held from 2007-2011, when he retired after 41 years in education.

“Herb Torres is a remarkable educational leader,” Morehead said. “His commitment to serve in the private and public schools shows his depth of talent and knowledge, and our community and Southern New Mexico have benefitted from it. We are proud to have him as an alum from the College of Education, and appreciate the legacy he has left for future generations.”

Torres served and continues to serve his community through active membership in several civic and faith-based associations and clubs, including Rotary International, Lions International, Hispanic Staff & Faculty Caucus, Las Cruces Catholic School’s Board of Education and Serra Club of the Mesilla Valley.

Torres was honored on several occasions throughout his career by various professional organizations and his peers. He was named Outstanding Young Men of America & Who’s Who in Educational Administration, 1985-1988. NMSU named him Outstanding Centennial Alumnus, 1988, and Distinguished Alumni, College of Education, 1993.

He was named Superintendent of the Year by his peers (New Mexico School Administrators), 1993; state finalist for Superintendent of the Year (American Association of School Administrators), 1994; and New Mexico State Board of Education Honoree, 1994.

“NMSU has always been a significant part of my life and that of my family’s, and provided me with the educational opportunities that helped to mold me into the educator that I am,” Torres said. “Additionally, my family has always supported and benefitted from the many venues the university has provided us as a central part of our community. My family and I will continue to keep NMSU in our future plans and support. Go Aggies!”

Also during the banquet, a special presentation will be made of the Creating a Legacy Award to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) outreach teachers Brian Claar, Diane Chavarria, Thelma Peterson and Angela Frausto.

The Creating a Legacy Award will continue to be an annual award to recognize our teachers who are currently working in this amazing profession. The College of Education wants to recognize those who have laid the foundation for future teachers like the Hensons and Torres, as well as recognize current teachers in the STEM Outreach Program.

Tickets for the awards dinner are $30 per person and all proceeds will benefit the Aggie Cornerstone Scholarship. For those interested in attending, contact Ashley Jurado, in the College of Education Dean’s Office, at 575-646-8072 or ajurado@nmsu.edu.