Three recipients – including one winner in the general category, three lifetime achievement awardees, and an emerging promoter of peace – were honored recently at the Paul Ré Peace Prize reception, held at Zimmerman Library on The University of New Mexico’s (UNM) main campus in Albuquerque.
On a biennial cycle, the Peace Prize is given to UNM students, faculty, staff members, alumni or retirees who promote peace, harmony and understanding among people of the world. In announcing the 2016 roster of awardees, chair of the Peace Prize selection committee, Marc Price, Emeritus Professor and past dean of graduate studies at UNM, said, “Every year the nominees inspire us with their efforts. It is a pleasure and privilege to interact with them.”
The winner of the 2016 Peace Prize in the general category will be David R. Muñoz for his efforts in combining engineering and humanitarian efforts. Muñoz has used his knowledge in mechanical engineering and his passion for global peace and sustainability to help others. He has worked with senior and graduate students from Colorado School of Mines on humanitarian and sanitation projects. Most notably, he and the students worked with Honduran students at Universidad Tecnologico Centroamericana to design a sustainable water system for a village of refugees from Hurricane Mitch. Muñoz helped establish the Humanitarian Engineering minor at Colorado School of Mines, currently serves as a member of the Fetzer Advisory Committee for Engineering Professionals, and co-founded Village Science, a non-profit working to enhance science education. Muñoz, a UNM alumus, lives in Taos, N.M.
Three lifetime achievement awardees will also be named. William M. Brown III, a resident of Arroyo Hondo, N.M., will be acknowledged for his environmental conservation and sustainability work. Brown has worked in a variety of different capacities including as earth scientist for the United States Geological Service, science advisor for the Coalition for the Valle Vidal and principal for Sage West Consultants, but the common thread throughout all of his ventures has been his passion for energy science, climate change, and energy economy. He has been a climate leader and mentor for The Climate Reality Project and makes regular presentations regarding renewable energy. Brown is a UNM alumus and won the Paul Ré Peace Prize in 2012.
A Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Denise Elia Chávez, a UNM alumna and Las Cruces, NM resident. Chávez is a novelist, short story writer, playwright, actor and teacher who focuses her writing and advocacy on the border corridor of southern New Mexico, West Texas and northern Mexico. Chávez co-founded the internationally reknown Border Book Festival which focused the public’s attention on books and art and their power to heal and transform the world. Chávez is now focused on archiving and preserving the history of the region through the development of Museo de La Gente/Museum of the People, an arts residency center, resource library, workshop, exhibit space and venue for multi-cultural, multi-generational and multi-ethnic literary, literacy, music and arts events for audiences of all ages and backgrounds.
Vincent Barrett (V.B.) Price will also receive a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as a distinguished poet, human rights and environmental columnist, editor, journalist, architectural critic, novelist and teacher. In all of his efforts, Price encourages others to think about the big questions of life in the modern world, encouraging deeper and richer learning. During his tenure at UNM, he provided his students with interdisciplinary courses featuring current and relevant texts that supported a broad range of perspectives which compelled students to consider unfamiliar view points. In addition, he has published numerous books of poetry and anthologies. Price, a resident of Albuquerque, earned his bachelor’s degree from UNM and is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor with UNM’s School of Architecture and Planning as well as a Lecturer III Emeritus with UNM’s Honors College.
Additionally, the Emerging Promoter of Peace award will be presented to Carolina Belmares-Ortega. As a student, Ortega has been dedicated to helping others through her research and academic experience as well as her leadership experience, including involvement in several university and community support programs. Ortega has been involved with the Center for Academic Program Support, University Advisement Center, Center for Development and Disability and the Agora Crisis Center.
Through her role as Scholar Support Coordinator for the Simon Charitable Foundation, she has helped high school juniors and seniors prepare for college through tutoring, internship, university applications, career and community support, workshop and event facilitation and as a translator for family members. Ortega earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from UNM and will receive her master’s degree in Career and Mental Health Counseling from UNM in May 2016.
Members of the selection committee included Susan Morrison JD, CFP focusing on sustainability; Lynn Billings, JD, mediator; and Fred Shair, a longtime Caltech Professor.
Prize sponsor and originator, Paul Ré, who serves as advisor to the selection committee, noted, “The 2016 awardees demonstrate how UNM affiliates influence the world in profound ways. These individuals represent a balance between achieving distinctive accomplishments in their varied disciplines while nurturing inner and outer peace.”
Paul Ré is recognized internationally for promoting world peace and harmony through his art. For more information about the Peace Prize and Ré’s four decades of creating serene and elevating art, visit his website www.paulre.org. His acclaimed volume, The Dance of the Pencil, as well as his new book, Art, Peace and Transcendence, are also featured on the site.