Socorro resident tapped for state honor
Next month, a select group of New Mexicans — including Socorro’s Anthony Ortiz — will be honored for distinguished public service.
Ortiz, who heads up the state Science Fair and state Science Olympiad for New Mexico Tech, is being honored for his efforts to promote education — specifically science — among New Mexico high school students.
News of the award came as a surprise to Ortiz.
“I was shocked and surprised to hear I had won,” Ortiz said in a New Mexico Tech news release. “I’m very appreciative for the recognition. This is huge. Now, I feel challenged to do even more so that I’m truly deserving.”
New Mexico Tech President Dr. Daniel H. Lopez said Ortiz is a perfect choice for the state’s high civil service award.
“Tony Ortiz is a tireless champion of education in New Mexico,” Lopez said in the release. “His office is directly responsible for opening the world of science, engineering and technology to thousands of youngsters in the state. At a time when the United States is lagging behind the rest of the world in these areas, it’s vital that we have leaders like Tony to serve as leaders and mentors.”
According to the release, student participation in the state Science Fair and Science Olympiad has “exploded” since Ortiz got involved.
Ortiz is also credited with bringing the International Science and Engineering Fair to the Land of Enchantment in 2007 — a competition that drew more than 8,000 people to New Mexico. In addition to his role in bringing the competition to New Mexico, Ortiz co-chaired the committee that organized the fair and was instrumental in generating publicity and much needed funds for the same.
Lopez — who along with Gov. Bill Richardson serves as chairman of the Distinguished Public Service Awards — said Ortiz’ work on the International Science and Engineering Fair played a role in the award.
“Tony’s record shows that he goes above and beyond the call of duty,” Lopez said in the release.
Similar praise for Ortiz came from Dr. Peter Gerity, Tech’s vice president of Academic Affairs, who nominated him for the award.
Gerity called Ortiz a “consumate leader” who “goes the extra mile to help others.”
“He has demonstrated the capacity to serve his community in an exceptional manner … As a one-man show, he is the champion for science and engineering in New Mexico’s schools, making him extremely deserving of this award,” Gerity said in the release.
A former four-year member of the Socorro Consolidated School Board, Ortiz served as coordinator for the 2002 Socorro Relay for Life and is a current member of Society for Science’s advisory council.
A native of Socorro, Ortiz earned his bachelor’s from College of Santa Fe in psychology and counseling. He first started working at Tech in the accounting department in 1993. From 1996 to 2000, he served as the coordinator of residential life and summer conferences. After two years as coordinator of the Advising Resource Center, he took over the Science Fair and Science Olympiad programs, the release concludes.
Ortiz and the other winners will be honored Thursday, Nov. 12, at the Marriott in Albuquerque.
The awards program is celebrating its 40th year. It was developed by Albert Rosenthal, professor and director emeritus, Public Administration at UNM.
The banquet is sponsored by Sandia National Labs, Technology Ventures Corp., New Mexico Tech, New Mexico State University and the University of New Mexico.