University awards were presented at the annual Alumni Awards Dinner April 21. The event honors alumni and others who have provided service and support to the university as well as alumni who have achieved prominence in their fields. This year's honorees were:
Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna Award
The university’s most prestigious award for alumni, given to individuals who have achieved distinction in their professions and made significant contributions to society, therefore bringing credit to UNT
Adel A. Al-Jubeir (’82) of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Al-Jubeir is an adviser to the Royal Court of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He has also served as foreign affairs adviser to the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince’s Court, director of the Saudi Information and Congressional Affairs Office in Washington, D.C., and special assistant to the ambassador at the Saudi Embassy in Washington. He has been a regular member of the kingdom’s delegation to the United Nations General Assembly and was a visiting diplomatic fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in 1994-95. He also acted as a primary spokesperson for Saudi Arabia to the international media during the Gulf War and was a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council delegation to the Madrid Peace Conference and a member of the Saudi delegation to the Multilateral Arms Control Talks in the 1990s. In 1992, Al-Jubeir was dispatched with Saudi Armed Forces to Somalia as part of Operation Restore Hope. He served as a translator and spokesperson to the media when Crown Prince Abdullah visited President Bush in Crawford recently, and Time named him “Person of the Week” for his role as a Saudi government spokesperson. He earned a master’s degree in international relations from Georgetown University in 1984. In addition to the Distinguished Alumnus Award, UNT presented Al-Jubeir with an honorary doctor of humane letters degree April 22 at the Crescent Court in Dallas.
Philip C. McGraw (’76 M.A.,’79 Ph.D.) of Los Angeles, Calif. McGraw has a nationally syndicated talk show, Dr. Phil, which first aired in September 2002 (he accepted his UNT award on video from his California television studio). McGraw, who was dubbed a “relationship and life strategy expert,” began appearing on the Oprah Winfrey Show each week in 1998 before the debut of Dr. Phil, which is produced by Winfrey’s Harpo Studios. In 1980, McGraw founded the consulting firm Courtroom Sciences Inc., based in Irving, which provided advice to law firms in making psychological arguments. He met Winfrey when his firm was hired by her legal team in 1996 to successfully help her fight a slander lawsuit filed by the Texas cattle industry. Named one of the “Most Intriguing People of 2002” by People magazine and included in the Barbara Walters television program Ten Most Fascinating People of 2002, McGraw was also the subject of a Newsweek cover story that became one of the most-bought issues of 2002. He has written six No. 1 New York Times best-selling books, which have been published in 37 languages and have more than 23 million copies in print. He also writes a monthly column for O, The Oprah Magazine, and is an international public speaker.
Ronald Waranch (’54) of Palm Desert, Calif. Waranch is the retired owner of Villa Pacific Building Co. in Los Angeles. He briefly worked in the Dallas area after graduation for Arthur Young & Co. and Pan American Sulfur Co. before moving to Los Angeles to join Trousdale Construction. He became the company’s president in 1967. After merging Trousdale with Lear Siegler, Waranch spent three years in Hawaii with the new Trousdale Division before resigning in 1972 and returning to Los Angeles to start Villa Pacific Building Co. His company has constructed more than 15,000 residential units. Waranch retired as president last year. Waranch grew up in Corpus Christi and began working at age 10 to help his family. He was a pharmacy delivery boy and also had morning and evening paper routes, working part time during the school year and full time each summer until he graduated from high school. In 2003, he was named to the Horatio Alger Association, which selects 10 Americans as lifetime members each year for overcoming humble beginnings and adversity to achieve personal and professional success. Waranch is a lifetime member of the UNT President’s Council, and the new Waranch Tennis Pavilion at the Mean Green Village is named for him.
Green Glory Award
Presented to individuals, not necessarily alumni, whose assistance to the university has enabled it to have “a substantial margin of excellence in its endeavors”
Dan Christie (’68) of Prosper. Less than a month after receiving the Green Glory Award, Dan Christie, land broker and developer, died of complications from a viral infection. Christie was the owner of Collin County Land Co. in Prosper and had served on the board of trustees of the Prosper ISD and on the Prosper city council. He coached and taught history at Dallas middle schools before getting into the real estate business. He was a member of the UNT President’s Council, the Geezle fraternity and the UNT Athletic Council and a lifetime member of the North Texas Exes. Christie was a past president of the UNT athletics booster club and headed up the effort to rename the Men’s Gym on the UNT campus for longtime football and tennis coach Ken Bahnsen (’53, ’53 M.S.), who coached Christie. Christie received the Outstanding Alumnus Service Award in 1991.
Robert Morgan (’63, ’65 M.M.) of Houston. Morgan served as professor of music at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville from 1965 to 1976 and as director of jazz studies at Houston High School for Performing and Visual Arts from 1976 until his retirement in 1999. He was named to the International Association for Jazz Education Hall of Fame in 2005. He was the only jazz instructor honored to date as a Distinguished Teacher in the Arts by the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts in 1997 and earned the Presidential Scholars Teacher Recognition Award in a White House ceremony in 1998. Morgan co-founded the Helen and Bob Morgan Scholarship in Jazz Studies at UNT and is the founding president of the Gulf Coast chapter of the North Texas Exes and a lifetime member. He is also a member of the UNT President’s Council and the Dean’s Camerata in the College of Music. He earned his doctorate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1974.
Honorary Alumnus/Alumna Award
Awarded to individuals who were never students at UNT, but whose outstanding devotion to the university has been clearly demonstrated
David and Debbie Burns of Conroe. The Burnses are lifetime members of the UNT Parent Association, North Texas Exes and the Montgomery County Fair Association. David, the principal piping designer for VECO Engineers in Anchorage, Alaska, has served as owner of Burning It Up Promotions in Conroe, deputy sheriff of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department and instructor of basic piping design at Houston Community College. VECO Engineers presented him with its Outstanding Leadership Award in 2004. Debbie is a teacher and librarian at Grangerland Intermediate School in the Conroe school district and has also served as a teacher at Reaves Intermediate School and a bilingual paraprofessional educator at Runyan Elementary School in the Conroe district. She was named Teacher of the Year at Grangerland Intermediate School in 2003. She is past president of the UNT Parent Association and a past vice president and secretary of the Conroe Education Association.
Edward A. Moorehead of Denton. The retired president of Basler Electric in Highland, Ill., Moorehead began his own engineering consulting firm after returning to Denton in 1998. He is the past chair of the advisory council for UNT Opera Theatre and a past member of the community advisory council for the College of Music. Moorehead and his wife, Kay (’83), established a scholarship program for opera students in their name. In addition, he is a member of the Dean’s Camerata and a lifetime member of the UNT President’s Council. Before becoming president of Basler Electric, Moorehead was president of Century Manufacturing in Minneapolis, Minn.; president of Palco Industries in San Francisco; and president of Victor Equipment in Denton. He is also past president of Hope Inc., the Denton Chamber of Commerce and Denton United Way.
Esther R. Smith of Dallas. Smith has been a volunteer for the National Center of the American Foundation for the Blind in Dallas since 2005 and has served as a board member. She has also served as a member of the Associates of the Dallas Museum of Art, the Associates of the Meadows Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Gardens. She is a lifetime member of the UNT President’s Council. Her late husband, Don Paul Smith, was the founder and chief executive officer of Enersyst Development Center in Dallas. He was an innovator and inventor of large-scale food processing equipment, which can be found in the kitchen of UNT’s Gateway Center. After Smith’s death, Esther funded several scholarships in his name. Later, the university asked permission to add her name to the scholarships as well.
Outstanding Alumnus/Alumna Service Award
Given to alumni who have "rendered volunteerism of exemplary nature" to the university
Jim (’67) and Diane (’68) Grandey of Richardson. The Grandeys are lifetime members of the North Texas Exes and members of the President’s Council and Mean Green Club. They are patrons of the Alumni Center and contributors to the Eagle wall sculpture there. Jim, who is self employed, is a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and a past administrative board member of the First United Methodist Church in Richardson. Diane serves as an administrative assistant to a certified financial adviser and is a retired schoolteacher from the Richardson ISD. She is a member of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and the board of directors of the North Texas Exes.
J.V. ‘Virgil’ Strange (’68) of Denton. Strange is owner of Axiom Commercial Co., a partner in multiple construction and development ventures in Denton, and president of Tremont Construction Corp. He is also the founder and former president of ITEC Steel Inc. and Golden Triangle Development Corp. His service to UNT includes work on and donations to the Alumni Center in the Gateway Center, the Shrader Pavilion, the hospitality deck at Fouts Field, tree preservation at Eagle Point and the Student-Athlete Development Center — funded by Strange and his wife, UNT Regent Gayle Strange (’67). Strange is a lifetime member of the President’s Council and the North Texas Exes and a member of the Mean Green Club.
Awarded to individuals who have given extraordinary service and support to UNT either in enhancing its reputation or in helping the university accomplish its mission
Robert E. Carter (’71) of Houston. Carter is the chief executive officer of Enterprise Advisory Services of Houston, which he founded in 1983. He is a lifetime member of the UNT President’s Council and a board member of the North Texas Exes, the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and African Americans for Economic Empowerment. He is also a state of Texas certified public accountant and a member of the Blue Key honor fraternity as well as Beta Alpha Psi accounting honor fraternity.
Richard Gonzalez (’90) of Plano. Gonzalez is a managing partner of Freedom Wireless LP and chief executive officer of Crescent Group Inc. At UNT he is a member of the President’s Council and a board member of the Murphy Enterprise Center in the College of Business Administration. He is a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity and serves on the advisory board for the Chiapas Project, which provides free medical and dental care to the indigenous Zoque people of the state of Chiapas, Mexico.
Ulys Knight Spirit Award
Awarded to a UNT alumnus, alumna or group that has made noteworthy efforts to sustain spirit among the UNT family. Ulys Knight ('28) was on North Texas' championship basketball team in the early 1920s and was named the most popular student on campus. He was later known as "Mr. North Texas" for his participation in alumni activities.
Joneel (’66, ’75 M.S., ’99 Ph.D.) and Richard (’62) Harris of Denton. Joneel is associate vice president for enrollment management at UNT, and Richard is the retired UNT associate vice president for computing and information technology and chief technology officer. He had 43 years of service to the university upon his retirement in 2005. The Harrises are founding members of the UNT President’s Council, lifetime members of the North Texas Exes, members of the Mean Green Club and supporters of the Department of Information Technology and Decision Sciences. They have also established an endowed scholarship in the Department of Counseling, Development and Higher Education.