Three University of New Mexico Health Sciences leaders are among a group of prominent Albuquerqueans named Honorary Commanders at Kirtland Air Force Base.
Executive vice chancellor Richard S. Larson, MD, PhD, and UNM Hospital CEO Kate Becker, JD, join 55 community leaders being inducted into the Air Force-wide program on Thursday, January 9. David Pitcher, MD, executive physician for the UNM Health System, is a returning honoree.
The program matches community and business leaders as honorary commanders with various units on the base, enabling them to learn about their host unit and the military as they attend command and unit events.
In return, those local leaders invite the Air Force commanders to community functions and activities.
Larson, who also serves as the Health Sciences vice chancellor for research, has previously won the Chief Scientist Award from the Defense Intelligence Agency for his contributions to national defense. The award recognized his collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories scientists to create a hand-held sensor capable of detecting biological agents on the battlefield.
“It’s a wonderful program, and I deeply appreciate the desire to increase the awareness of the wide range of benefits our military brings to Albuquerque and New Mexico,” Larson said. “I’m deeply honored.”
Becker, who assumed the CEO role at UNM Hospital in 2018, is the daughter of an Air Force veteran, and her son is currently serving in the Army.
“I’m looking forward to deepening the strong relationship between Kirtland Air Force Base and UNMH,” she said.