Distinguished Alumni Award

The UNM Honors College Distinguished Alumni Award salutes the achievements of outstanding alumni whose research, professional achievements, leadership and/or community service contribute to the success and reputation of the UNM Honors College.

Past honorees have included:

Daniel Abraham graduated from UNM in 1995 with a major in Biology. He was not only a student in what was then UNM’s General Honors Program, but he was also the 1994 editor of Scribendi and a staff member of the Daily Lobo. Today, Daniel is a nationally respected and top-selling writer of fantasy, science fiction, and horror.

He has published 25 books, several graphic novels, and screenplays under his own name (fantasy works), as well as under his pen names M. L. N. Hanover (urban fantasy) and James S. A. Corey (science fiction). His works have earned him the Locus award for science fiction and the International Horror Guild award, as well as nominations for other top awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, and Saturn awards. Daniel has also written novels for the Star Wars book series and is a frequent collaborator with George R. R. Martin on multiple projects, including the Wild Card series and adapting Martin's own fantasy series into A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel.

In addition, Daniel is executive producer of the TV series The Expanse, based on the bestselling science fiction series he writes with Ty Franck (as James S. A. Corey). The Expanse series ran for three seasons on the Syfy channel. When it was cancelled in 2018, overwhelming response from viewers caused Jeff Bezos to become interested in it and continue it. It’s fourth season will be released on Amazon Prime this December and filming of season 5 has already started.

Daniel’s works of fiction are carefully and thoroughly researched, combining up-to-the minute scientific innovations and developments as well as issues of social justice, law and medicine, economics and political science, as well as human psychology. Apart from his growing recognition as a major force in the world of fantasy and science fiction literature that mark him as distinguished in ways that match the qualifications for this award well, Daniel is an incredibly humble person, who cares deeply about education in general and particularly values his education in Honors at UNM. He has given multiple guest lectures for Honors classes and UNM student groups over that last 10 years so and all of these without accepting any honorarium or other form of payment. In all the lectures he has given, he is open and clear, providing practical advice to students that may not be always easy to hear, but is always valuable and from his heart.

"I can only extend my deep thanks to the university in large and the General Honors Program in specific for giving me the opportunity to not only earn a degree but forge a weird, idiosyncratic, and thoroughly interesting education…the honors seminars I attended here were my launching pad and my roots. Whatever I have done owes some not inconsiderable something to the professors and students I met and worked with here." ~ Daniel Abraham

Dr. William H. Pickens graduated from UNM with both a Bachelor (1968) and a Master (1971) of Arts and Sciences. Bill's many achievements are a credit to him, UNM, and the General Honors Program that prepared him for significant, life-long devotion to higher education.

Among his many achievements, he is the President of Bluestone Enterprises, a sole proprietorship whose primary mission has been to organize and deliver uniquely long-lasting experiences to foster administrative leadership and good management practices, along with executive coaching and time/priority management. He brings more than 41 years of higher education leadership experience to his practice, including: 15 year Director of the Executive Leadership and Management Institute held at Stanford University for university administrators, CEO/President for seven years of the Foundation of Education Achievement, a collection of colleges specializing in digital arts and engineering, social service providers, and adult education, Executive Director of California Citizens Commission on Higher Education, one of 25 nationally known leaders making recommendations to state government on higher education, and Associate Vice President for Administration of Sacramento State University.

After completing his Masters at UNM, he obtained his PhD at UC Davis, then began working with the California Post-Secondary Education Commission. Starting as a junior staff analyst, he moved up the ranks becoming the Executive Director. For all these reasons, Dr. Pickens is our 2018 Distinguished Alumni.

A fourth-generation New Mexican, Gary has crafted two careers as both a distinguished courtroom lawyer and an expert in the governance and financial management of nonprofit organizations. Following his graduation from Albuquerque Academy, Gordon attended the University of New Mexico and graduated summa cum laude in general honors, earning his bachelor’s degree with distinction from the Anderson School of Management. He was in the first group of scholarship recipients to be recognized as a Distinguished Presidential Scholar and received the Clauve Award as the University’s outstanding senior.


Dr. Matthew J. Martinez was born and raised at Ohkay Owingeh. He graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Spanish from the University of New Mexico (Magna Cum Laude). In 2000 he completed a Master of Arts in Political Science from Arizona State University. He earned a PhD in American Studies and American Indian Studies from the University of Minnesota in 2008.

He is currently an Associate Professor of Pueblo Indian Studies at Northern New Mexico College. Prior to joining Northern he served as the Director of Indian Education under Governor Bill Richardson at the New Mexico Higher Education Department where he worked to advance initiatives designed to increase opportunities for American Indian students.

Dr. Martinez has been a consultant for tribes and has published in the areas of Pueblo Indian history and culture. He has also worked in documentary filmmaking with such projects as A Good Day to Die (2011) that discusses the life and times of Dennis Banks and the American Indian Movement; Canes of Power (2012) that details the history of the Lincoln Canes and Pueblo sovereignty, and Co-Producer with Silver Bullet Productions of A Thousand Voices (2014), that discusses the historical and contemporary roles in indigenous women in New Mexico.

A central part of his career has been to develop curriculum and training for students and teachers that reflect the diversity of stories that impact our everyday lives. Dr. Martinez has served on state and national boards related to education policy, and is currently appointed to the Ohkay Owingeh School Board committed to promoting culture, tradition and academic rigor into tribally controlled schools.

"My time with honors at UNM was pivotal. I recall an early class with V.B. Price discussing readings on Greek mythology and how such writings and images of deities were created and revered. I walked away reflecting on how myth, legend and stories create ancestral memories and meanings; and, that in my own upbringing in a Pueblo society that we too come from such traditions that seek to understand the role of deities within a specific context. Honors courses always posed challenging questions to pursue." ~ Dr. Matthew J. Martinez

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.