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NMSU alumna Smoky Glass Torgerson to receive honorary doctoral degree

Release Date: 02 May 2022
NMSU alumna Smoky Glass Torgerson to receive honorary doctoral degree

The New Mexico State University Board of Regents will present former NMSU Foundation board member and NMSU alumna Smoky Glass Torgerson with an honorary doctoral degree in recognition of the decades of service and support she has provided to the university.

Chancellor Dan Arvizu will award the degree Saturday, May 7, during NMSU’s commencement ceremonies at the Pan American Center, 1810 E. University Ave., in Las Cruces. The ceremonies begin at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.

“We salute Dr. Torgerson for her tireless work on behalf of the university and the foundation,” said Derek Dictson, NMSU Foundation president and vice president of University Advancement. “This honorary doctorate is a testament to her ongoing efforts to promote the future of education and leave a legacy of generosity and support for Aggies.”

True to family tradition, Torgerson attended NMSU and received her undergraduate degree in 1969. Almost everyone in her family attended NMSU, including her parents, sister, cousins and in-laws. “Crimson is in our DNA,” she said. But ask her where her heart lies, and she will undoubtedly say it is with the children of New Mexico’s families. “We must prepare our children for success in school and in life.”

Torgerson developed a passion for education early in her career. She later earned a bachelor’s from Idaho State University and a master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota – all in the field of education. She taught at North Harris County College and Idaho State and later designed and implemented computer-assisted instruction in the College of Education at the University of Minnesota. 

Over the years, Torgerson turned her professional ambitions into philanthropic endeavors, where she made an even larger impact on the lives of children, students, faculty and the Las Cruces community. In 2007, she funded the Glass Family Library for Young Children in NMSU’s Myrna’s Children’s Village, and later created the Glass Family Endowed Scholarship in Education in 2012. She currently serves on the NMSU College of Health, Education and Social Transformation (HEST) Advisory Council. 

To pursue her vision more fully, Torgerson and her husband, Judge Alan Torgerson, made a generous gift to establish The Glass Family Research Institute for Early Childhood Studies at NMSU in 2017. The institute aims to identify and explore best policies and practices for supporting New Mexico’s children during their formative years. 

“Our NMSU College of HEST has emerged as the leader in early childhood education,” she said, emphasizing that the institute will explore what is needed to answer questions about culturally responsive instruction and developing comprehensive care strategies. 

Her interest in supporting NMSU has not ended. Torgerson is a huge fan of Aggie athletics and backs the home team like a champion. She endowed an athletic scholarship in her family’s name and later served as a co-chair for the Lujan Dinner benefiting NMSU athletes. Torgerson now serves on the Aggie Athletic Advisory Council.

But Torgerson’s support for Aggie swimmers is where she has made the biggest splash. She renovated the NMSU women’s swim team facility, resulting in the 2016 unveiling of The Wanda Glass Family Swimming and Diving Locker Room, named in honor of her sister, Linda Glass Schroeder – NMSU’s first head swim coach – and their mother, Wanda Glass. She also remodeled the women’s basketball lounge and upgraded the New Mexico State Weight Training Center. 

In 2016, Torgerson began sponsoring the university’s annual Estate Planning Conference for Women on behalf of her family, as the conference had a profound impact on her when she attended it herself in 2013.

“I thought I had some knowledge of estate and financial planning,” she said. “I quickly became of aware of just how much I didn’t know, and how dangerous it was to make estate-planning decisions using inaccurate or incomplete information.”

Aside from NMSU, Torgerson has worked for many other nonprofit organizations, serving on boards raising funds for the Susan B. Komen Race Committee, Wounded Warrior Project and Family Promise. She continues to support various community organizations such as the Greater Albuquerque Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross Mid-Rio Grande Chapter, Equal Access to Justice and the Albuquerque Foundation. 

As Torgerson turned her efforts toward personal and corporate philanthropy, she became a member of the NMSU Foundation Board of Directors in 2007 and served until 2019. She worked on the Governance Committee as a member and vice chair, overseeing continued board membership and supporting fundraising efforts for NMSU. In these positions, she helped raise millions of dollars for current and future Aggies.

“My whole family has been entrenched at NMSU and seen it grow at a level that’s been amazing. I just feel proud of what NMSU has done and continues to do for our students,” she said.

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