2007 Alumni Awards Recipients
Distinguished Alumnus Award
Bob Belden ('78) of New York believes that Denton has always been a place where a person could develop into an artist. Becoming a musician in the One O'Clock Lab Band under the direction of Leon Breeden, he made lifelong musical friendships with many students. Since graduating from UNT, he has produced numerous jazz recordings and reissues, composed music for film and television and traveled all over the world. Belden says what keeps him viable in the modern world of international music production is the basic knowledge he obtained as a student at UNT.
R. Dale Olson ('56, '57) of Fullerton, California and Galveston Island, Texas was a member of a legendary clique. In September, 1952, a group of outstanding trumpet students studied together and formed what was later recognized as the genesis of UNT's world-acclaimed trumpet department. Olson says four of the major influences that guided him during his years at UNT were the School of Music, the professors, his fellow students and Diane, who became his wife. He says he and his fellow music students studied with professors of unequaled quality and left Denton with a profound sense of pride in a truly remarkable university.
Nicholas D. Ricco, Sr. ('61, '03) of Dallas and Rockport says the inspiration and motivation from his wife and friend, Anna Gray Ricco, led them to renew their bonds with UNT. The Dallas businessman went as far as to reenroll at UNT. Ricco says he's revitalized when he connects with alumni, students, the library and other UNT buildings. The Marines have a word for the pride and commitment to their way of life--SEMPER FI!--always and totally faithful. Ricco says this motto personifies the purpose of the university as well as his own.
J. Terry Strange ('67, '68) of Houston says his decision to attend UNT was an uninformed one, as he knew little about the school. He came for two reasons: a scholarship to run track, and the state of Texas--a place that seemed exotic to someone raised in Orlando, Florida. While he was average on the track, he says he received an outstanding education and also met his wife of 41 years, Charlotte Anders Strange ('69). Strange says he was motivated and inspired by faculty such as Paden Neely, Horace Brock, Herschel Anderson, Barney Coda and Bill Giese. He will forever be indebted to UNT for the education received and life lessons learned.
Green Glory Award
Scott Wallace of Carrollton says the opportunity to build relationships with the UNT family over the past five years has been a highlight of his career. He is inspired and invigorated by the creative endeavors of the students in the Murphy Enterprise Center, the talent of the students in the College of Music, the character-building efforts of UNT's Athletic Director, Rick Villareal, and his staff, and by the knowledge and passion of teaching professionals from the College of Education. Wallace is proud that scholarship money from Wells Fargo and other companies has helped first-generation college students pursue their dreams.
Howard and Margaret Watt have been connected to Denton, their home, and to the University of North Texas their entire lives. As big believers in higher education, they say it became obvious that they should become active supporters of UNT. The College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Richard Golden, the Director of the Jewish Studies program, and Dr. Warren Burggren, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences gave them the encouragement and the direction to channel their energies. The resulting involvement with the Jewish Studies and Study of Sexualities programs blended their big picture view of the world with areas of academic opportunity at UNT. The Watts dedicate this honor to Donald Baker, Maggie's brother.
Honorary Alumnus Award
David O. Russell of Keller has enjoyed a relationship with UNT for most of the past twenty years. Russell says he's had the opportunity to work on many education-related initiatives through his employment with a company that understands the role that educational excellence plays in society. He says that thanks to the vision and leadership of people like former UNT Chancellor Al Hurley, Chancellor Lee Jackson and Dean Jean Keller of the College of Education, UNT has emerged as a key player in the educational future of the North Texas area.
Outstanding Alumnus Service Award
Michael D. Andereck ('75) of Dallas says he's proud to have received an excellent education at North Texas. The executive chairman of Skywire Software says the university has enabled him to accomplish more than he ever dreamed possible as a young man. UNT provided him the credentials to enter the work force as well as the knowledge and skills to succeed at his chosen professions. Andereck says his commitment of time and contribution of money to UNT is his way of saying “thank you,” and that it's a pleasure to give back to the place that helped him succeed.
Stephen Zhang ('94) of Plano says he was fortunate to discover UNT. When he and his wife came to the U.S. from China, he decided to follow his wife's study choice. He says his professors in the Communications Design department helped him understand the profession in Western countries and encouraged him to blend his cultural background with what he learned. Zhang now serves as vice president and image director for Fossil. He dedicates this award to the teachers in his life—including his father—for their unselfish dedication to education, especially to Professor Rob Erdle, who passed away in December 2006.
Ulys Knight Spirit Award
Marcilla L. Collinsworth ('69, '73) of Denton says her journey with UNT began in 1966, when she enrolled as a transfer student at what was then known as North Texas State University. As a first-generation student, she knows how a degree can transform a person's life. Her thirty-five year career in UNT's Department of Admissions has allowed her the privilege of encouraging students to attend the university to prepare for their own life's journey. Collinsworth says she's certain that the “spirit” of UNT will always be a special part of her life.
President's Citation Award
Vernon Dale King ('73) of Baytown, Texas says he learned a lot during his tenure at UNT. The artist and educator learned what it meant to not give up on his dreams and to believe in himself. He says it wasn't an easy journey, but that's what made him more appreciative of success. He credits his professors with presenting him with challenges that helped define who he was and what he wanted from UNT--to be a leader in his field and among UNT graduates. He learned that hard work eventually does pay off.
North Texas Exes Outstanding Chapter Award
The North Texas Exes Denton Chapter reactivated as a chapter in the fall of 2002. The chapter focused on raising money for scholarships for students living in Denton County. That year, one $500 scholarship was awarded for the 2003-04 academic year. In the spring of 2003, the Denton Chapter kicked off its first scholarship auction and raised funds to award two $1,000 scholarships. This spring, the chapter held its fifth annual auction and generated more than $20,000 that will be used to fund ten $2,000 awards for the next academic year.