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NMSU ?A Starry Night? event shines light on community partners

New Mexico State University?s College of Arts and Sciences will celebrate six community and business leaders for their contributions to the college at its third annual ?A Starry Night? fundraiser and gala on Saturday, Feb. 13.

Group photo of two women and four men in suits.
From left: J. Paul Taylor, Lou Sisbarro, Frank Leto, and Judy and Michael Johnson were honored during the 2015 ?A Starry Night? event hosted by the NMSU College of Arts and Sciences. Dean Christa Slaton (third from left) is pictured with the group. The 2016 ?A Starry Night? will take place Saturday, Feb. 13, at the ASNMSU Center for the Arts. (Courtesy photo)

Larry and Diane Allen, Patricia Lopez, Glenn and Sally Cutter, and Jag Cheema will be honored during the event at the ASNMSU Center for the Arts, 1000 E. University Ave.

The evening?s proceeds will benefit the Dean?s Fund for Excellence, which supports outstanding students, faculty and academic programs. The event is among many efforts Arts and Sciences College Dean Christa Slaton has initiated to support partnerships in the community that benefit both the university and the region.

?It is so important to recognize outstanding leaders who make a difference in the world,? Slaton said. ?The men and women we are honoring at ?A Starry Night? understand the benefits of higher education. They have demonstrated their caring and commitment to serve this university and our community and we want them to know how much we appreciate them.?

The Allens have generously supported fundraising efforts for the ASNMSU Center for the Arts and upcoming Las Cruces International Film Festival. Larry is president and CEO of Allen Theatres, Inc., which encompasses a total of 108 screens in 11 communities across New Mexico and Colorado. Larry has been active in multiple organizations, including the Boys & Girls Club and the National Association of Theatre Owners, and was previously selected as ?Business Leader of the Year? by the Business Leaders Development Society. He is a current committee member of the Aggie Athletic Fund.

Lopez, a distinguished alumna, earned her bachelor?s, master?s and doctorate degrees in computer science from New Mexico State University?s College of Arts and Sciences. She is an accomplished imaging scientist and leader in promoting women and Hispanics in computer science careers, receiving the Advocating Women in Engineering Award from the Society of Women Engineers in 2015. Lopez has also established the Ross & Lydia Lopez Minority Undergraduate Scholarship for NMSU computer science majors.

Glenn and Sally Cutter, owners of the Cutter Gallery, have been in the Las Cruces jewelry, art and antique business for the past 40 years. With their interest in the area?s art community, the couple has supported the Las Cruces International Film Festival and ASNMSU Center for the Arts. Additionally, Glenn has served as president of the NMSU Foundation, while Sally has served on several NMSU advisory committees, including the College of Arts and Sciences Dean?s Council.

Cheema, a Wells Fargo financial advisor, has supported fundraising efforts for the D.W. Williams Hall renovation and the ASNMSU Center for the Arts. He is currently an NMSU Foundation board member and involved with the Annual Stroke Awareness Golf Tournament, as well as the Burger Time Golf Tournaments. Cheema is also a recent committee member of the NMSU College of Arts and Sciences Dean?s Council, and he and his wife, Linda, have established endowed scholarships at both NMSU and Texas A&M.

During the event, the college will also honor a star faculty, staff, student or alumnus from each of its 26 departments.

?A Starry Night? will feature entertainment by John Carlo Pierce, an internationally renowned tenor, assistant professor of voice at NMSU and director of the Doņa Ana Lyric Opera. The Latin Grammy nominated string ensemble La Catrina Quartet will also perform at the gala, with Lonnie Klein, NMSU music professor and Maestro of the Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra, serving as event emcee.

The program will begin with a reception dinner showcasing department stars at 6:30 p.m., followed by an awards ceremony at 7:30 p.m.

Contributions to the dean?s fund provide the college the flexibility to take advantage of unique and unexpected opportunities to enhance the quality of education for students, expand the research abilities for faculty, and support larger community efforts to improve higher education in the state.

Tickets are $60 each. For more information, contact Ashley Jurado at ajurado@nmsu.edu or 575-646-5886.