CMU alumnus, professor to be honored

Colorado Mesa University will honor two Distinguished Alumni and one Distinguished Faculty Member tonight at the annual awards banquet in the University Center Ballroom.

This year’s recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award are Jamie Hamilton of Grand Junction and Debra Thompson Smith of Weatherford, Texas. Hamilton graduated from then-Mesa College in 1978 with a teaching degree and is now CEO of Home Loan Investment Co. He was on the university’s board of trustees, was president of the alumni association, and entered the Colorado Mesa Hall of Honor for athletes in 1997.

Hamilton played baseball for Mesa and played minor league baseball after graduation in Idaho, California and Texas. He is now CMU’s associate athletic director and chairman of the Junior College World Series. The Hamilton Recreation Center inside CMU’s Maverick Center is named after him.

Smith graduated in 1984 with a degree in business administration. She became president of Pulliam Pools in 2009, a Texas-based pool-building and design company — named one of the Top 50 Pool Builders in the U.S. for nine years.

Smith is a past board chairwoman of the Weatherford Chamber of Commerce, was named “Woman of the Year” last year by the East Parker County Chamber of Commerce and has been an avid donor and fundraiser for Shriners Hospitals for Children in Texas.

Colorado Mesa English professor Randy Phillis also will be recognized tonight. He began teaching at the school in 1992, was head of the English Department for four years and designed the school’s writing emphasis.

He also served as Writing Center director; founded Pinyon, Colorado Mesa’s national creative writing journal, which he edits; and has had two books, an anthology and more than 100 poems published.

A social hour starts before the banquet at 5:30 p.m., with the program at 6:30.

Tickets are available for $60 each online at or by calling the university’s Alumni Association at 248-1902.


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