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Larry Allen given honorary degree at NMSU’s spring commencement ceremony

Larry Allen of Allen Theaters Inc. was honored by New Mexico State University for his 32 years of unwavering and inspirational service to Aggies at NMSU along with his boundless generosity to the community and whose commitment to athletics, scholarships and theatre arts has profoundly impacted the state. Allen was recognized as the honorary degree recipient during commencement with an honorary Doctorate of Letters.

Larry Allen, once owner but now consultant for Allen Theaters Inc., was honored during New Mexico State University's commencement ceremony with an honorary Doctorate of Letters for his unwavering and inspirational service to Aggies at NMSU, his boundless generosity to the community and whose commitment to athletics, scholarships and theatre arts has profoundly impacted the state. (Courtesy photo)

“The entire New Mexico State University community is fortunate to have Larry Allen as a friend,” said NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu. “He supports our statewide mission of teaching, research and service and the contributions made by him and his family have helped make our university a better place. We are delighted to celebrate his honorary degree.”

Allen, who grew up in Farmington, New Mexico, started a college career at Brigham Young University that was cut short. At age 19, his father passed away, forcing him to drop out to aid his mother in running the family business. In 1975, Larry and his brother Lane purchased Allen Theatres Inc. from their mother, eventually leading it to become today’s 47th largest theatre chain in North America.

The family business began back in 1912 in Farmington, New Mexico, by Frank Allen, Larry’s grandfather. In 1982, the Allens expanded the business down south to Las Cruces, and in 2016 Larry Allen sold the company to his children and nephew, but still remains a consultant for the company.

Allen Theatres, Inc. has generously supported the New Mexico State University system for the past 32 years. Their financial gifts to the university have made a transformative impact on scholarships and programs that benefit NMSU students and help them achieve their educational goals.

The family’s generosity has also made its mark on NMSU’s Center for the Arts, where the box office is aptly named after Larry’s mother, Helen Foutz Allen. The state-of-the-art marquee for the Center for the Arts facility also bears the Allen Theatre name to honor the impact of their support, which has helped to connect the NMSU campus to the Las Cruces community.

In 1993, Larry Allen established the Allen Theatres, Inc. Endowed Scholarship to benefit NMSU students who work with the company.

Later in 2017, Allen Theatres, Inc. contributed a substantial gift to fund the Allen Family Locker Room and provide additional improvements to the NMSU Coca-Cola Weight Training Center.

“We are very appreciative of the Allen family and their efforts, not only financially but in how they support this school and this program overall; it helps so much,” said Doug Martin, NMSU head football coach.

Throughout Allen’s career, he has supported and represented many philanthropic and civic organizations. He was an active member of Rotary, the National Association of Theatre Managers and the Boys and Girls club where he served as president for one term. Allen has been awarded several honors, including Business Leader of the Year by the Business Leaders Development Society, Colonel Aide-de-Camp from former New Mexico Lieutenant Governor Walter Bradley and NMSU Honorary Member of the Golden Key International Honor Society. Allen was chairman of the board and past president of The Jacob Foutz Family Association, Inc. of Honolulu.

Since 2012, Larry has been a member of the NMSU Foundation Board of Directors and served on the NMSU Aggie Athletic Club from 2006 to 2012. He was recognized and awarded in 2012 with an Honorary Degree from Doña Ana Community College, and in 2016, he was recognized at the third annual NMSU College of Arts & Sciences’ “Starry Night” event for his contributions as a business and community leader to the college.

“We never imagined receiving such an honor. Diane and I accept this recognition with humility and sincere thanks. We feel tremendous gratitude and have a deep affection for New Mexico State University,” Allen said.

Larry and Diane Allen have been married for 55 years and live in Las Cruces. Together they have three children, Russell Allen, Heather Gandy, and Asa Allen, eight grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.