2011 Alumni Awards Recipients
Distinguished Alumna/Alumnus Award
Ben T. Morris (’67 BBA Accounting), a licensed CPA in Texas, co-founded a financial services firm in 1987 that grew into the public Sanders Morris Harris firm in 2000. He served as CEO from 2002 until his retirement in 2009.
Morris currently is vice chair of the Sanders Morris Harris board of directors. The company, which began with seven employees, has annual revenues of more than $180 million and employs more than 500 in the United States.
He was named Department of Accounting Outstanding Alumnus at UNT in 2006.
Lindy (’72) and John Rydman (’72) met when both were music education majors at UNT. After graduation the Rydmans moved to Houston to work in her family's business, Spec's Liquors. They took over the business in 1996 and have grown Spec's Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods into what the Houston Press has called the "Best Liquor Store" for eight consecutive years.
In 1996, John and Lindy established the Spec's Charitable Foundation with the purpose of supporting educational programs. Beginning in 1999, the foundation began to fund a scholarship and an endowment at UNT and a scholarship with the Galveston-Houston Catholic Diocese. They are founding sponsors of the Hilton School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston. They are also underwriters of UNT's renowned One O'clock Lab Band and the Houston Symphony's Salute to Music Educator's Concert. The Rydmans also sponsor Houston Symphony cellist, Anthony Katai.
The Rydmans have earned numerous honors from the liquor industry and recognition for public service and philanthropy. UNT awarded them the Green Glory distinction at its 2001 Alumni Awards dinner and they received the Martha Turner Award of Distinction from the University of North Texas Alumni Association in 2004.
Distinguished Young Alumna Award
While at UNT, Dr. Rosalyn Reades (’02 BS Chemistry) was a state semi-finalist for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, while also playing point guard for the women's basketball team under Coach Tina Slinker. In 2002, her basketball jersey was retired and she was named the NCAA Woman of the Year for the state of Texas. She was inducted into the UNT Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007.
Reades went on to earn her medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston in 2006. She completed her emergency medicine residency at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2009, and an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) fellowship in 2010.
As a medical resident and fellow, Reades presented original research projects at national conferences leading to two medical journal publications. She is currently employed at Methodist Hospital System in Dallas.
Outstanding Alumna Service Award
Margaret Irby Nichols (’45 BA Library Science) completed the master of library science program at the University of Texas at Austin, after earning her bachelor's degree at what was then North Texas State Teachers College. After working 10 years in the library and information field, she returned to Denton in 1955 to a faculty position in the School of Library and Information Sciences, which ended with her retirement in 1996.
Throughout her many years of teaching, she acted as mentor and friend to thousands of information professionals who subsequently endowed the Margaret Irby Nichols Scholarship. Her influence as an educator was not limited to teaching at North Texas. She conducted more than 400 workshops throughout the country and published six books and numerous articles on reference and information services.
Her peers have recognized her contributions by electing her president of the Texas Library Association (TLA), including her as a TLA Twentieth Century Library Champion, and honoring her as recipient of the TLA Distinguished Service Award.
Since 1988, Mrs. Nichols has edited the alumni magazine for the College of Information.
Ulys Knight Spirit Award
Dr. Jim Bezdek (’50 BA, ’54 MA) is an internationally recognized mathematics educator of the "new math" era and has written and co-written numerous publications including two major series of mathematics textbooks and supplementary materials in English and Spanish.
In his 45-year career he also served as a mathematics research analyst, consultant and nuclear engineer, and served in several leadership positions in public and higher education.
Bezdek received the Golden Eagle Award from the North Texas Administrators Council in 1992. He is listed in Who's Who in American Education and Who's Who in the World of Accordions.