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Hensons to be honored at commencement

Lou and Mary Henson will receive honorary doctorates at New Mexico State University's spring commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 7.



Lou and Mary Henson will receive honorary doctorates at New Mexico State University's spring commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 7. (NMSU Courtesy photo)

The Hensons will speak at both of the two scheduled ceremonies. The first ceremony begins at 10 a.m. at the Pan American Center. Graduates of the colleges of Agriculture and Home Economics, Business Administration and Economics, Engineering and Extended Learning, including graduate students receiving degrees from those colleges, will participate in the morning ceremony.

The second ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m. in the Pan American Center. Graduates of the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education and Health and Social Services, including graduate students receiving degrees from those colleges, will participate in this ceremony.

Almost 2,000 students are candidates for degrees and more than 1,200 are expected to participate in the commencement ceremonies. Tickets are not required. The Pan Am Center will open an hour before each ceremony.

The Hensons are being honored for their loyal support and dedication to the advancement of NMSU.

Lou Henson, who recently retired as NMSU head men's basketball coach, is noted for his 779 career victories, making him the sixth winningest coach in Division I history. During his career, which spans more than four decades, he has led two programs to the NCAA Final Four -
NMSU in 1970 and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1989. His teams have made 19 NCAA appearances and four NIT appearances.

Coach Henson earned his bachelor's degree in secondary education in 1955 and his master's in education administration in 1956, both from NMSU. He first returned to his alma mater as head coach from 1966-1975, leading the Aggies to six NCAA appearances, including five consecutive bids from 1966-1971. In 1975, he left NMSU to coach at the University of Illinois. During the next 21 seasons, Coach Henson led the Fighting Illini to 12 NCAA appearances, including his second trip to the Final Four, before retiring in 1997. Soon after, NMSU called on Henson again and named him the Aggies' head coach.



In 2002, New Mexico State honored Coach Henson by naming the Pan American Center's parquet floor "Lou Henson Court." Henson was honored as "an icon in sports" by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who traveled to Las Cruces in February to announce the renaming of Highway 28 to "Lou Henson Highway."

Mary Henson first met her husband during his student days at New Mexico State in the 1950s and has remained by his side since. After marrying Coach Henson in 1954, she completed her freshman year at NMSU.

Throughout their more than 50-year marriage, she has been his strongest supporter and cheerleader, experiencing the NCAA tournaments and Final Four appearances with him, often cheering from the sidelines with their children or grandchildren in tow. Mrs. Henson always involved herself in her husband's career, including hosting pre-game receptions for alumni, boosters or new recruits, while engaging in various community activities.

For the past two years, Mrs. Henson has served as an active board member for the NMSU President's Associates, helping to raise money for student scholarships. Her most recent philanthropic effort has been helping to complete projects for NMSU's Children's Village.

The Hensons, as a team, have been among NMSU's most active supporters on and off the court. Their commitment to excellence in academics and athletics was demonstrated with their $100,000 donation to help establish the Lou and Mary Henson Endowed Scholarship Fund in honor of their late son, Lou Jr. The fund is designed to support deserving student-athletes at NMSU.