ALAMOSA — The institution founded by Billy Adams in 1921 has produced graduates who share his dedication to higher education. Billy Adams’ founding spirit is demonstrated by alumni like Dr. Camila Alire, who has found ways to give back to her alma mater. In honor of her commitment and service, Alire will receive the university’s Billy Adams Award at the Alumni Banquet and Awards Ceremony during Homecoming, October 20. For reservations and tickets, call the ASU Alumni Relations Office at 719-587-8110.
Adams State University President Beverlee J. McClure said Alire shows how the founder’s vision lives on. “Alumni like Camila are our strength. I truly appreciate her passion for Adams State and her willingness to share her expertise.”
“I was shocked to receive the award. I’m so proud,” said Alire, who was in China on a consulting visit when she learned the news. “I remember previous award winners, and it is an absolute honor to be counted among them. For me it has come full circle to be recognized by my alma mater, the place I love the best and that gave so much to me.” A native of Monte Vista, Colo., she attended college with several cousins and is proud a great niece is a current freshman. “Education was real important to my family,” she said.
Having retired from a career in university libraries, Alire combined professional expertise with passion for her alma mater when she served as interim director of the Nielsen Library during 2016-17. “My husband had just passed when I was asked to fill in, so it was a great distraction from my grief. There are great people in the library,” she said.
It was a literal circling back to where her path of library science began. As a work study student in the Adams State Library, she was encouraged to complete a minor in the field by Library Director Stanley Alberta. Having discovered while student teaching that the classroom was not for her, she instead became credentialed as a school media specialist upon graduation in 1970.
Later earning her Master of Library Science from Denver University and a doctorate in education from University of Northern Colorado, she went on to work in several academic libraries. Alire retired from Colorado State University as Dean Emerita and Full Professor in 2001, then in 2005 from University of New Mexico as Dean Emerita of University Libraries and Full Professor.
“I credit Adams State for beginning the trajectory of my library career. It gave me self -confidence and leadership background along the way. I was the first Coloradan elected president of the American Library Association, which was at its peak with 66,000 members. It was a great accomplishment for me that allowed me to travel and speak all over the country and internationally,” Alire said.
She also served as president of the Association for College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and of National REFORMA. She co-authored five books on academic librarianship, emotionally intelligent leadership, library services to Latino communities, disaster planning/recovery, and management basics. She has also written and presented extensively on various aspects of diversity, library advocacy, and library marketing. Alire’s leadership and scholarship abilities have been honored with the ALA/Lippincott Award for Distinguished Service, the CALA Presidential Recognition Award, and the ALA Achievement in Library Diversity Research Award. She also received the first ALA Elizabeth Futas’ Catalyst for Change Award and the National REFORMA’s Librarian of the Year Award. She was named Scholar-in-Residence for the Chicago Public Library System and was honored one year by Hispanic Business Magazine as one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in the U.S. Most recently, she was appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to sit on the National Endowment for the Humanities Board of Advisors.
After retiring from academia, Alire began consulting, with a focus on higher education strategic planning and leadership development. As an associate with the professional search firm Pyramind, she worked with the Adams State Board of Trustees to hire her alma mater’s current president.
Alire continues to advocate for Adams State as part of the Denver Alumni Chapter. “I’ve been involved with ASU Day at the Capitol, meeting with legislators,” she said. “For all of us who are alumni, we need to be prepared to fight for this institution. There have been challenges, but when it’s time for alumni to get involved, they need to be. The majority of people I know, if not all, had a really good experience here. I would not trade my four years here for anything.”