Editor's note: In the original version of this article, Deyanira Nuñez' title was listed incorrectly. The original article also stated she was once a part of HACU, which is not true. Both of these inaccuracies have since been corrected. The Daily Lobo apologizes for any confusion.
Eliseo “Cheo” Torres, a professor in the College of Education and vice president for Student Affairs, was inducted into the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities’ Hall of Champions on Saturday, Oct. 28 in San Diego, California.
Torres grew up in south Texas but moved to New Mexico in 1996 to work at the University of New Mexico as the vice president of Student Affairs and has stayed in the position thereafter.
Torres said he was a member of the group that first came up with the concept of HACU in 1985, before the association became official in 1986.
“It represents Hispanic-serving universities, some 400, and it started with about 19 or so,” Torres said.
HACU includes universities from the U.S., Mexico and Central and Latin America, Torres said.
Torres said HACU is reserved for universities that have a Hispanic student population of at least 25 percent. The group has leadership programs for students at the university and high school level. HACU also has a large internship program, where students are placed in federal government positions in Washington D.C. or in major companies throughout the country, he said.
Torres estimates HACU has served close to 10,000 students.
Interim President Chaouki Abdallah nominated Torres for the recognition.
“He knows that I’ve been very active with HACU, and he surprised me and nominated me,” Torres said.
Deyanira Nuñez, a Student Affairs employee, began working with Torres as a participant through his fellowship program in 2014. Since then, she has been helping him with some of his projects, as well as assisting him with his class, Traditional Medicine Without Borders.
Nuñez described Torres as supportive.
“He is definitely someone that is willing to collaborate with you,” she said. “He’s willing to hear your ideas and help you get to where you want to be.”
Nuñez said Torres is very charismatic and loves getting to know people from inside and outside the University, especially with his class. She said he enjoys teaching his class and participating in his responsibilities at Student Affairs.
Torres said he felt honored to be among dear friends, heroes and mentors that have contributed a lot to Hispanic higher education while in San Diego for the ceremony.
“I just want to thank the students that make my life wonderful here at UNM, not only Hispanics, but all students in general. It’s been a pleasure working here for 21 years and getting to watch students blossom and consider higher education as a profession,” Torres said.
He said many students who have been involved with HACU have gone on to work at UNM or at another university. Many of them have also gone on to get their doctoral degrees and are spreading the knowledge and guidance that they received through HACU.
Kelly Urvanejo is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She primarily covers crime. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Kelly_Urvanejo.