More than 300 faculty and staff celebrated career milestones at UNM's Annual Service Awards ceremony held recently. Collectively, those employees have logged more than 7,200 years. All three individuals with 40 or more years of service were singled out for special recognition.

"It's important to recognize the efforts of our accomplished faculty and staff, because it is your hard work that allows us year after year to accomplish our mission of educating the leaders of tomorrow," President David J. Schmidly said. "Through your tireless efforts over the many years, you have helped make this great institution what it is today."

Russell "Rusty" Mitchell and Irvin Romero, with 45 years of service, and George Huaco, with 40 years of service, were given special recognition awards for their decades of service.
Huaco has been a professor in the Department of Sociology since 1971, when he came from the State University of New York-Buffalo to UNM. He has been instrumental in the department where he was the main author of the sociology doctoral program. One of Huaco's passions has been the Sociology Reading Room, where he helped initiate the collection of books and journals. His interests include sociological theory and philosophy, the philosophy of Marx and the sociology of ideology, literature, art and religion.

Mitchell began his career at UNM in 1966 as the varsity gymnastics coach. He compiled a 70 percent winning percentage in dual meets over 33 years. Mitchell has coached 53 All-Americans, 18 individual national champions and three Olympians. Mitchell is a member of the NCAA Gymnastics Coaches Association and Amateur Athletic Foundation Hall of Fame, the Albuquerque Sports Hall of Fame and the UNM Alumni Letterman's Association Athletic Hall of Honor. Mitchell is most proud of the students.

Romero, a custodian in the Physical Plant Department, began working at UNM when he was 19 as a part-time custodian. At the time, he was a senior in high school earning 90 cents an hour, balancing school and work. He said he was motivated by his father who was a "hard and steady worker." Romero's work philosophy is, "Be to work on time. Balance priorities. Do your best and keep moving forward if things don't go your way."